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Jul 27, 2007 11:16 PM

Johnny's: Single Burger, Double Yuck

I was going up Victoria Park approaching Sheppard when I saw Johnny's , It had been favourably mentioned here, so I thought that I would try a burger. I can't believe how bad it was.

The bun was Anglo-Greco fluff. The toppings were real low. Chemical pickles, no name ketchup, standard mustard, etc. but not much etc.. This is par for the course I suppose. But the burger patty was impossible to eat. After one bite, I slatherd it with ketchup. After two, I pitched it

. It had the texture and resilience to crumbling of an aerated rubber floor tile. Instead of discrete bits of minced beef held together, it was as if a one piece extrusion with air holes. Like bread or a sponge. And strong! I wonder if tapioca flour was the binder.

Even worse, it tasted like old reheated liver.

I would have complained about the taste, but it was in keeping with the texture, so I figured that this is how they do it at Johnny's and just pitched it.

It is remarkable that Johnny's is long established, and successful enough that five guys were working at 11 at night. Life isn't fair in the restauarnt business.

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  1. I've been eating Johnny's hamburgers for over 40 years; sure, it's an acquired
    taste, but like your mom's mac and cheese, if you've grown up with it, it's
    fine. I used to work at a gas station across the street as a kid, so I must have
    eaten hundreds of them.

    I don't get what you mean by "chemical pickles". They taste like standard dill
    to me, but I always have them on the side, not on the burger. The BBQ sauce
    is tastier than the ketchup. And how many places offer grilled onions along with
    raw ones?

    Yes, the bun is fluffy, but you can always ask to have it toasted extra crispy.
    And what kind of ketchup and mustard do you think you get at McDonald's?
    Some special blend? Dijon perhaps? Give me a break.

    As for the meat itself - to me, it's better than McDonald's - at least it has some
    texture! I know they use frozen patties, but then, I'm not paying $6.50 a burger
    like I used to do at Toby's. Were you expecting some gourmet experience for

    2 Replies
    1. re: KevinB

      I always found it best in the wee hours of the morning after the bars closed.

      KevinB, eco987: Do either of you remember Mama Bear's or (added bonus on this one) Howard's at Sheppard & Pharmacy?

      1. re: Mississauga Matt

        Mmm.. Mama Bear's Honey Fried Chicken.. that was a rare treat. The only fried
        chicken I'd had as a kid before that was KFC, and Mama Bear's was better by far.

        And, Matt, Howard's!! Once I got my driver's license, and could drive the station's Jeep (remember when service stations actually had a vehicle that could come to help you with a boost or a gas can?!), we would often skip Johnny's and I would be sent to Howard's for a change of pace. I remember they had a variation on the club sandwich that I thought was great. Thanks for reminding me!

        And, I'm also posting as a new thread a review of Toby's, since I referred to them in my previous post.

    2. hee, it got you too, eh?

      I thought it was a cruel joke the first time I had Johny's burgers! WTF?!
      anyway, it must just be the tradition, I agree, life's not fair

      1 Reply
      1. re: orangewasabi

        Me Three. I made the mistake of going to Johnnys after a recommendation from chowhound a long time ago. Cardboard frozen burger. Yikes! I haven't been back.

        It's great that people get warm and fuzzies from this place, but for God's sake please don't recommend it to others as a great burger joint.

      2. What's your point?
        You saw the rundown building, you noticed the lack of seating, broken entrance / exit door, broken sign & dirty floor, yet somehow you expected the food to rise above it's surroundings?
        It's a rat burger. Nothing more. (Reminds me of Sunny's in Waterloo - long live the Rat Burger!) Pile on as much as you can lift. The fries need all of the brown goo sauce they will give you (I suggest you squirt in a cup or so of red tomato sauce as well, a big dose of salt also helps...).
        As mentioned, this is an aquired taste. Helps if you have acquired a taste for bad food. Seems like there is a lot of us out there that have.
        This is simply a cheap working man's squat & gobble. Not to be confused with purveyers of fine food.
        It is what it is - I generally try to hit it about every other month - I can feel my artery's hardening as I down the fries before the seagulls can over whelm me.

        1. I find this funny since I grew up in the area (MAC is my home school) and every typical school kid loved this place. I've always found it not that great, plus I had a real issue with the cook touching the raw patties then laying a hand on top of the grilling bun to pull it off.
          Recently I went to try Burger Hut (on Sheppard, East of Bayview) because I read somewhere that the bymark chef said it was the best buger...and again...meh. The meat was pretty good but they stab it and rip it open a couple times to cook faster or check to make sure it's cooked and all the juices run out...and they use crappy buns. Honestly, I like Harvey burgers, I think they have a good meat seasoning and a reliable bun. Licks, Hero and that new place by NY Fries doesn't really have tasty meat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: eco987

            I'm liking Johnny's a lot too. True, there's a lot nostalgia for the place among those who grew up in the neighborhood (such as myself), and this sometimes can result in overpraising what's nothing more than a frozen, prefab pattie, served by a staff that sometimes reminds me of the Soup Nazi. But I still can't resist one of their burgers.

          2. Resurrecting an old thread...been passing by Johnny's over a year and finally decided to see what the hype was all about...had been warned it was more a nostalgia thing than great tasting burgers...

            Went there early around 11 as I had seen the place getting real busy around noon...went for the hamburger...inspite of being warned that these are frozen patties, its a huge put off to see the cook take one out of these industrial kind no name boxes right in front of your face...

            So I went with the ketchup,raw and cooked onions toppings...and I'm not exagerrating I threw mine away after three bites (I hate wasting food)....the patty had that "rubbery" texture ,flavorless...i think the cooked onions was the only saving grace...

            I know its cheap but then I would rather pay an extra dollar and get a BK whopper (I know a lot of you will kill me for this)..Inspite of all the warnings for lower expectations I was still underwhelmed...I'm not gonna be returning anytime soon...

            6 Replies
            1. re: warlock

              Johnny's is like street meat..the more alcohol in your blood stream, the better it tastes..

              1. re: petek

                Lol...I went completey sober at 11 am..only had my morning coffee and no breakfast...and the result was more than disappointing...

              2. re: warlock

                I’m certainly no fan of Burger King (I think it’s the worst of the major fast food chains), but I’ll agree that it’s infinitely preferable to Johnny’s. At least the burgers at BK have the taste and texture of an actual hamburger. The frozen patties like the ones they serve at Johnny’s taste more like a patty-shaped hot dog to me (and a particularly shoddy hot dog at that).

                1. re: Michael N

                  While I agree with you about Johnny's I have to disagree on BK. It's not the worst FF place. Hero Burger has blown past it going in the opposite direction. Hideous, hideous "food."


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Oh, if Hero counts then I absolutely agree. I was thinking of the big nationwide chains (i.e. McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, A&W, etc.).