Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jan 26, 2009 08:08 PM

Johnny Rockets

When I have visited California, I have always had a good burger or patty melt at Johnny Rockets with fries and rings, and a good shake or rootbeer float. I am afraid to ask if anyone has ventured to the new Toronto location at Dundas and Yonge -- especially after seeing what has happened to other US chains that have come up here in the past?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. They supposedly also sell a 'very sought after' brand of Hotdogs (Nathans is it?), as it says on their online menu, but nobody ever followed up on it.

    Also curious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: duckdown

      I don't know if there's a gigantic difference between Coney Island Nathan's (I'm not a big hot dog fan, and it's been a while) and what they serve at Johnny Rockets, but it certainly isn't something I'd be rushing off to eat. It's not that it's a chain, it's just that I don't enjoy their food. If you enjoyed it in California, you might enjoy it here; I've never eaten at a JR in the States.

    2. I've been to a couple of these places, including the one at Vaughan Mills, but not the Yonge St. location. The food has never been more than "OK", the shakes disappointing, and the prices (for the food) high. However, if you go to a spot with a great crew, it can be fun.

      My fave was in Manhattan, where I'm sure every person was an aspiring actor/actress/dancer. When they broke into their dance routines, they really seemed to enjoy it, and every one of the patrons seemed to do so as well.

      Walden Galleria in Buffalo wasn't bad; the dancing wasn't quite as good as NYC, but again the staff seemed to enjoy it.

      Vaughan Mills was a total disappointment; not only was the food terrible (so bad I actually wrote a letter of complaint to the organization), but the staff seemed bored and uninterested in actually serving people, and when it came to the dance numbers - meh. My 14 year old does a better job.

      Given that Yonge is right downtown, there's a chance that it too will have a lot of aspiring dancers/actors/actresses on staff, hoping to get noticed. But don't go for the food alone - you're sure to be disappointed. .

      15 Replies
      1. re: KevinB

        Mrs. Sippi ranted and raved about JR. So we had lunch at the VM site and I have to say it wasn't all that great. I wasn't Wowed by anything and I think it didn't live up to her expectations either.


        1. re: Davwud

          Johnny Rockets was actually rated as one of the best burgers in Los Angeles, and unlike the toronto polls this poll seems to be rather reliable, we use it as our planning for outside dinners. I am a tad surprised to find this post moved to the chains board since I am specifically looking for information regarding the Toronto Location and not chainwide quiality controls.

          1. re: smr714

            I've never been to a JR in California, so I'm not qualified to judge them. But my experience has been when chains expand too far, quality slips a bit. Even at McD's, I've found huge variations between what you get at a location near Oak Brook, IL, and Detroit, MI.

            Toronto had a similar burger joint called "Licks". It started out in a rather trendy spot of Toronto called the Beaches. Besides serving (very good, BTW) fresh made burgers, the staff would periodically burst into song. It was amusing, made the wait for cooking your fresh burger seem less, and contributed to a happy atmosphere.

            They tried to extend the chain dramatically throughout Toronto. Not only did the quality of their product decline, the enthusiasm of the staff did as well. While it's great to see a bunch of people lustily singing while they make your food, it's quite depressing to see them go through the singing motions at another time. It makes you wonder how much they are dedicated to giving you a great meal.

            We don't go to Licks much any more. (And, for old Torontonians, whatever happened to Toby's?)

            1. re: KevinB

              Yes, early Lick's was great.
              Remember The Fire Pit??


              1. re: Davwud

                The Johnny Rocket’s in Vaughan Mills is completely average to sub-average. Not horrible, just nothing to rush back for at all. It’s been there awhile now, almost 4 years I think.

                The Fire Pit had great burgers. Can’t remember their fries, so I’m assuming they were fairly forgettable. Miss those burgers though. Too bad they closed down.

                Yes, I used to like the State of the Art burger at Toby’s. Many many midnight burgers. Good times. I think there still might be one Toby’s left at Yonge/Empress. Although I recall a friend saying it was horrid now.

                Lick's just hasn't been the same for years. Never did like their awful fries, but at least their burgers were good. Now, not even that...

                1. re: magic

                  Any places now operating called Toby's are not connected with the defunct chain (which also owned Bemelman's, Rhodes, Nekah, the Ports, and the Copa).

                    1. re: Davwud

                      I couldn't stray from the burgers but I don't doubt you : )

                  1. re: Davwud

                    I remember Fire Pit, and a predecessor, Go-Go-Burgers on Mt.Pleasant, beside George's Trains, who did an excellent homeburger for a premium price. The regular burgs were pre-formed patties, even in the 60's.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      There IS still a Fire Pit (original owners). It is at Britannia Road and Hurontario ( northwest corner) in Mississauga. Still yummy!

                      1. re: Mary D

                        Same owners and burgers as were on Yonge St.??

                        1. re: magic

                          I don't know about Yonge St. but when we first discovered this Fire Pit, we spoke with them and they said that they were the original owners and that this was now their only location. Fodd is just as we remembered from their Dixie and Dundas location in Mississauga years ago. Right down to the onion ring on the top of the fries.

                          1. re: Mary D

                            Hmm, I wonder if this is the same business as was on Yonge/McKee many moons ago??? Perhaps there were two locations - one on Yonge and one in Mississauga that I wasn't aware of.

                            1. re: magic

                              There was also one at Kipling and Rexdale many moons ago too.


                              1. re: Davwud

                                Hmm, interesting. Did not know this. I guess when we’re younger we generally stay in our zones of comfort, so never really ventured to that area.

          2. We've moved this back to the Ontario board, since that one local location was the focus of the original poster's request. We'd ask that people please focus on the Yonge & Dundas location, or at least the local, Ontario locations.

            General discussions of Johnny Rockets should be on the Chains board.

            1. I haven't been to the new one, but I was just at the Vaughan Mills one on Saturday. My burger was pretty lousy and incredibly overpriced. Of course, I don't expect much from a location that has a guaranteed, captive audience of mall customers - the downtown location may prove to be better.

              1. The original comment has been removed