Dairy O

Drive-In | Hamburgers | Ice Cream Parlor
Worth a return
Michael Stern | March 01, 2018

Dairy O began in 1949 as a Dairy Queen, but proprietor James Sykes wanted to do more than serve ice cream. He severed his ties with DQ, erased U-E-E-N and the tail of the Q from the sign, creating Dairy O. It has since become a locals’ favorite for burgers and hot dogs and a full array of sundaes, sodas, milk shakes, floats, and banana splits.

The signature item is a Curley Burger, named for Melvin “Curley” Harvey, who was Mr. Sykes’ first employee. It is a broad, flat lunch counter patty festooned with creamy pimento cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. No, it is not a four-star artisan hamburger, but the messy package is irresistible in a quick-eats way. A single Curley seems balanced just right, but if you’re feeling extra carnivorous, double Curleys also are available. On the side, you want good French fries.

Drive-through service is popular, but there is a fluorescent-lit dining room with molded booths for eating in. When other customers saw me taking pictures of my food, several of them volunteered their opinions on the best dish (other than the universally acclaimed Curley Burger), and three got into a contest as to which of them had been a Dairy O customer the longest.

Beyond burgers and ice cream treats, the Dairy O menu includes hot and cold sandwiches, fried shrimp, fish, and chicken, and breakfast sandwiches from 8am to 10:30am.


What to Eat
Dairy O, Curley Burger
Curley Burger
The pimento cheese-crowned Curley Burger was named for Melvin Curley Harvey, who worked at Dairy O from its early days.
Dairy O, Dixie Dog
Dixie Dog
Classic Dixie dog configuration: blubbery frank, meaty chili, sweet cole slaw. The sum is greater than its parts.
Dairy O, Fried Okra
Fried Okra
The okra is fine, if you need a green vegetable, but Dairy O's French fries are better.
Dairy O, Banana Milk Shake
Banana Milk Shake
A thick banana shake does have banana taste, even if the fruit seems far away.
Directions and Hours
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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