We get it, Fran’s Restaurant is a Toronto institution. If we’re being honest though, it’s old, dated, and looking a bit tired. We racked our brains to think about the things that make Fran’s great and have come up with some amazing alternatives.
A diner is not complete without a chocolate milkshake on their menu, and Fran’s has a pretty great milkshake, complete with the tin cup the milkshake was made in. But don’t fool yourself, there are great milkshakes to be found in Toronto. Meltwich has an awesome selection of milkshakes that are the real deal–not an over-the-top instagram trap, just good flavours. I personally recommend the Salted Caramel.
Another diner staple is a burger and there are so many good places to get a great burger in Toronto. W Burger Bar is literally beside the College Street Fran’s and has much better burgers with options for exotic meat burgers like Kangaroo burger sliders. Vegetarians can find a great veggie burger at Planta Burger on Temperance Street. Seriously, do yourself a favour and don’t settle for a Fran’s burger.
One of the appeals of Fran’s is the fact that it’s open 24hours–sort of. The Fran’s on Front Street is not a 24hour location and can close as early as 6pm some days. If you’re looking for a 24hour experience I recommend 7 West. They’re a relaxed spot for a date night with great food and an extensive drinks list. With the near-by Bloor Cinema it’s a great location for a movie and late night supper.
The red booths, the checkered floors, the old-timey ads on the walls–all of these are hallmarks for diners and they’re a nice aesthetic! But they’re not limited to Fran’s. The George Street Diner or Flo’s Diner in Yorkville have that same diner aesthetic and aren’t as faded or tired as Fran’s.
It’s a Toronto Landmark.
If you tell a Torontonian that you’re going to meet them at a specific Fran’s they’ll know exactly where you wanted to meet. But how about eating inside a genuine landmark instead? You can eat in the basement of the Gooderham Building, at the top of the CN Tower, and even inside Casa Loma.
Fran’s is a very specific Toronto experience, but it’s not the only one of its kind in Toronto, and for those who have only ever experienced the Fran’s diner experience, I hope that you’ll take this time to branch out to other Toronto restaurants.