Dairy O

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

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
Must-Try
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
Information
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Dukes

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Dukes is an Aiken, South Carolina all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet, featuring pulled pork plus terrific fried chicken and a couple dozen exemplary side dishes.

  • Carolina Buffet

    West Columbia, South Carolina

    A no-frills but big-flavored southern-style buffet featuring great fried chicken, vegetables, and banana pudding and/or peach cobbler for dessert.

  • Ray’s Tavern

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Ray’s is a dark and smoky Aiken tavern known for hefty half-pound hamburgers and fine all-beef chili dogs. And, of course, beer.

  • Sue’s Grill

    Wagener, South Carolina

    An ingenuous little diner at the edge of town, Sue’s goes the extra mile to serve good burgers, sandwiches, and square meals. Pleasant staff, decent prices.

  • Off Da Chain Seafood & Mo

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Fine fried seafood, from flounder to porgy, plus crab legs, pork chops, chicken wings, burgers and “Mo,” make Off Da Chain a colorful, unique destination.

  • New Moon Cafe

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Aiken’s town coffee house roasts its own and offers hearty casual dishes, many vegetarian. New Moon Cafe is great for leisurely eating and web-surfing.