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Best Hot Dog in TO?

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Where can I find the best hot dogs in this lovely city? Fancy toppings would be a plus!


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  1. No one? Not even a fav hot dog vendor?

    spin

    1 Reply
    1. re: spincycle

      I agree with the above poster that all the street vendors here are pretty much the same. My best best though is St. Lawrence Market. There's a small take out stand next to Bruno's meats (near the throng of people waiting for peameal bacon sandwiches) that has really nice sausages. Their hot dogs are pretty good too, a definite step above from the street vendors. They've also got tasty fresh sliced roast beef sandwiches there and are open the same hours as the market, Tuesday - Saturday.

      There is also a new hot dog restarant opening on Yonge and Gould, one block north of Dundas. I don't remember the name, but it's easy to spot, on the same street as the famous and tasty Salad King (good Thai food)

    2. Alright, i'll bite. (haha that was terrible.) My favourite hotdog in the city comes from Big Frank's. Not too well known, Big Frank bought the original J. Kwinter's storefront and factory and now trades under the Big Frank's banner. Not really central for most (Dufferin/Sheppard) but worth the trip, as they do wholesale as well.

      Their dogs (steamed) are big, dense and just plain good! they also have Cott's Black Cherry Pop, so that just seals the deal.

      As for fancy toppings, they've got all the standard options, but look a little closer and you'll find a great melon-relish as well as an fairly hot home-made Polish mustard.

      Big Franks
      780 Steeprock Drive,
      North York, ON
      (416) 630-0064

      (p.s. As for vendors, the guy at yonge/finch is open 24 hours and always quick with a joke)

      1 Reply
      1. re: a.j

        Is the melon relish at Big Frank's the same as the one that used to be served at Kwinter's?

        Anyone know where I can buy this relish on its own? It was soooo good but can't find it anywhere...nor any recipes to try and make it myself.

        Thanks for any help.

      2. You have to try the hot dog cart just outside of Eaton Centre, at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas. They're on Dundas, actually. Their hot dogs are reeeeeeally good, but I gotta say, their sausages are EEEEEEEVEN better! I always go for their hot italian sausages which are $3, and hot dogs are $2. And yes, they have LOTS of toppings. You got your regular ketchup, mustard and relish, then you got 3 different kinds of hot sauce, onions, sweet corn, pickle slices, sauerkraut, pickled chilis, mayonnaise... and theres more, I'm certain there's more than that. Where else can you get a satisfying meal for $3 and under at Eatons???

        2 Replies
        1. re: jennjen18

          I have to agree on this, not because of the dog, but because of the homemade chili sauce with lots of cilantro that they have as a condiment.

          1. re: jennjen18

            Thirded! I love that they have pico de gallo!!

          2. I was told (someone please correct me if this is incorrect) that health regulations mean that every hot dog vendor in downtown Toronto can only sell the exact same brands and types of pre-cooked hot dogs. This might go a long way to explain why all of them seem to be suspiciously similar. So, the differences are generally just matters of price, friendliness, and topping selection, though toppings are also regulated (for example, dairy toppings like cheese or mayo are no longer permitted due to lack of refridgeration).

            1. I am looking for a place that has Montreal-style steamed hot dogs here in Toronto; the buns are small and steamed and the weiners are usually from Hygrade's.
              Any suggestions will be welcomed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: yertle

                Hi there is a place in Oshawa at 36 simcoe st and bond tel 905 404-8282. They sell steamies and fries.It's only alittle place but the owner(Wes) has it down pretty good.He's got all the dressings cabbage etc for the steamies.It's quite close to Lafleurs or the others in Montreal.I grew up in Montreal so I crave a steamie once in a while.This is the closest I can find. I go there from Mississauga .Hope this helps.P.S. its called Montreal fries and steamies .

              2. Hard to find, the last place that sold Steamey was was a place on Mt Pleasant & Egg closed a few years back
                the only place that still might sell Steamey may be a Hockey ring they still you the old steamer
                But A&W toast there Bum like Orange Julip

                1. Hi Gary, you're quite right about the restrictions on street meat in this city. It's also the reason that despite our huge immigrant population, many of whom come from countries with very vibrant street food cultures, we don't get anything on our streets but hot dogs.

                  From NOW Magazine http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2004... (July 1-7, 2004) and there have been a few other articles about it as well:
                  "Ever wonder why Toronto lacks multiculti street eats more adventurous than hot dogs? According to provincial regulation, licensed carts can only reheat precooked sausages and wieners, since such facilities lack proper refrigeration to handle other meats, such as bacteria-prone ground beef, hygienically... Chip trucks and Chinese take-aways on wheels are fully equipped and so considered portable kitchens... The popcorn vendors and chestnut hawkers of yore haven't been seen on Yonge since the 80s, more the victim of cultural change than of government interference"

                  - Lea
                  Canada Eats
                  http://canada-eats.com

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Canada Eats

                    There was an article in the star this week about changing what's available on Troronto's streets. John Filion (Ward 23, Willowdale) is the new chair of the Toronto Board of Health. He says he's made a new year's resolution to get healthier and more ethnically diverse food that's also affordable on the streets.

                    "My goal is to dramatically change the variety of food that is sold on city streets," he says.

                    Read the whole thing at:

                    http://www.thestar.com/article/160400

                    1. re: Canada Eats

                      It seems there's a glimmer of hope for more healthy and diverse street food options. Here's a link to a Star article from last Sunday:
                      http://www.thestar.com/article/160400

                    2. While one can find a wide variety of good sausage products at various butchers and delis (primarily of an "ethnic" nature), I contend that there is no such thing as a good common hot dog in Toronto. Period. Not at a street vendor. Not at a butcher or deli. Not at a resto. Nowhere.

                      Some contain good quality ingredients. Big Franks was mentioned. Loblaws actually licenced J. Kwinters recipe many years ago and still sells dogs under that name. Frankz (the place near Salad King). Beretta and other organic producers. Katz Deli. The kosher brands (which can't contain by products, mechanically deboned meat, or most fillers and extenders). None of them has flavour worth a damn. Not the mainstream brands. Not the fancy ones. Nada. I haven't found a single dog anywhere in Toronto that meets my personal hot dog standards.

                      Although American friends tell me that things ain't what they used to be, I can still come up with Nathans, Hebrew National, Vienna Beef, Katzs, Allen Brothers, and many more. Even Buffalo and Rochester have some noteworthy local dogs (though these all are pork-based and not to my personal taste).

                      Argue with me as you wish, but I've sampled just about every available brand in Toronto for decades and a good "hot dog" doesn't exist. Good dogs don't need a spectacular array of condiments to make them edible.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: embee

                        Can you describe the taste of a really good hot dog? Chicago 58 (a Hebrew Nat. product) was served steamed for several years at Costco but they switched to Olympic all-beef (Mississauga) during the mad cow frenzy. I think both dogs were equally bland, as are their toppings, and while I think of it, so was a steamed Sabrett's in the east village.
                        But the above mentioned warehouse sells a richly smoked, thin frankfurter (probably pork, but I don't have package in front of me) from Freybe's (B.C.) for $7 or $8/lb. , worth taking home when I have a jar of Gulden's brown mustard.

                        1. re: jayt90

                          To me, a really good hot dog comes in a natural casing (or, at the very least, in collagen). It is never skinless. It is grilled or steamed to just before the bursting point and snaps juicily on the first bite. It has a distinct beef flavour and has a real meat texture that is not pasty, gummy, or gristly.

                          Underlying the beef flavour would be notes of salt, garlic, smoke, and a spice combination that can vary with producer but is clearly t-h-e-r-e and enhances the beef. It doesn't overwhelm.

                          The Hebrew National and Nathans franks I ate as a child in New York all met these criteria. The skinless Hebrew National and Nathans dogs I get in the Buffalo area today don't meet all of my criteria, but they, at least, have a good flavour. I can ID both in a blind tasting, which surprised me.

                          I've also had good dogs from Katzs in New York (they don't actually make them), Vienna Beef in Chicago, Boar's Head, Allen Bros, and quite a few more. I haven't had some of these recently and, for all I know, they may not all be good any more. (Certainly Nathans didn't use sorbital as an ingredient 50 years ago, but they still taste good anyway.)

                          There was a street vendor in Yorkville decades ago that sold tasty hot dogs and the defunct Switzers on Spadina used to occasionally sell frozen Nathans dogs, and a kosher brand called Hod Carmel, that they imported (more likely smuggled) from the States. These aside, I've never had a simple hot dog in Toronto that, without a load of condiments, tasted good.

                          I tried the franks Costco used to sell, and would have become a member just to get them had they been any good, but they weren't. I remember Sabretts from my childhood. Not very good, but better than anything here. I think Sabrett also makes private label franks for other purveyors in the NY area.

                          The late Jack Kwinter once explained, as he proudly showed off his plant, that he could easily make a frank that tasted like a Nathans (he had been in the spice business), but that nobody would buy one. I doubt this would be true in today's Toronto, but it seems that no producer will enable us to find out. Even the kosher brands (the temporarily incapacitated Perls, the newish Baldwin St, Shefa, and several brands from Montreal) have poor texture and little taste. Shopsys "Original Recipe" tastes mainly of salt.

                          1. re: embee

                            But Jacks Knuckers were still very very good. As were the Chunky Charlies. I miss those dogs. And the turkey tails (butts) he used to smoke. So good! A whole turkey leg freshly smoked was 5 bucks.

                            1. re: deelicious

                              Jack made some very high quality products, and the two you mention were indeed my local faves. But even these had very little seasoning and a low flavour intensity. Also, they weren't widely available and Steeprock Dr wasn't someplace I found myself regularly. Loblaws never licensed these styles or, at least, never sold them. I understand they did not treat their franchisees very well, which didn't help either.

                            2. re: embee

                              Today I brought home a kilo of Freybe's pork franks, each linked to another, in lamb casings, from Costco at $9./kg.
                              I realise pork is not your favored ingredient, but you have apparently appreciated pork franks from western New York. The ones I purchased come from a family business in Burnaby.
                              When I bought them a year ago they were strongly smoked,in alder,this time not, but still good. I steamed a few for 15 minutes in a closed pan and waited for one or two to burst the skin, then I served on local rye, Polish kraut, and Dijon. Each bite snapped and burst with a full, lasting pork flavour, salt, not much garlic, and smoke. I was impressed, and it made a great quick meal after a hard day's work.

                        2. wow........diverse street food would be an amazing addition to the streets of TO. I hope the dream comes true soon!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pancake

                            I just came back from a trip to Manhattan and I was blown away by the variety of street foods in comparison to here in TO... pretzels, hot dogs (steamed, with no bbq), beef and chicken kabobs in a hot dog bun (soo good...), hot caramel nuts and roasted chestnuts! The article that says that the lack of diversity is due to cultural change/shift since the 80s is wrong... it is partly a result of overregulation by the government that has let to blandness in this city.

                          2. Anybody know when Buddha Dog is opening in Toronto? That's the on worth waiting for.

                            1 Reply
                            1. You betcha. Rumour has it Buddha Dog's opening in Toronto soon. Not exactly haute cuisine, but they do what they do well.

                              1. My favorite veggie dog comes from steve's hotdogs which is a chip and dog truck outside mel lastman square hah..

                                I'm dead serious though :/

                                1. There's a really good one that is 24 hour for the most part in Ryerson campus...and no it's not the famous George's (which I have yet to taste). It's on the corner of Gould and Church and they are so friendly adn they are CHEAP and their hot dogs are amazing (esp. when you're there at 4 am!!). Try them if you're in the area!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: BuggySer

                                    Buddha dog Toronto rumours appear to be true, they are looking for staff. I'm working on getting details.

                                    1. re: k8supergrover

                                      They're supposedly opening on Roncesvalles around Canada Day.

                                      1. re: Minnow

                                        163 Roncesvalles Avenue, to be exact.

                                        1. re: gregclow

                                          I will be there! Those little beef dogs (homemade from a local Picton butcher) are so tasty and they have awesome condiments to boot.

                                          To me, they're like tapas. You can have 4-5 with different toppings and enjoy the diversity

                                  2. I've had great dogs at Groucho's Burgers on Bayview. Huge, but not fancy toppings I'm afraid.

                                    To me, mustard is the only necessary condiment for a tube steak.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: bogie

                                      This just in:

                                      BuddhaDog Toronto, Roncesvales, July 1.

                                      So excited!

                                      1. re: k8supergrover

                                        I walked by there earlier today and peeked in - it looks pretty cool. Any word on wether they'll be licenced?

                                        1. re: Beef Pattie

                                          Buddha Dog's not licensed in Picton and I see no reason why the Toronto one should be. It might lose it's family appeal if it does. I can-not wait for them to get here. Well worth the trip to the west side. Hel-LO Canada Day Dog.

                                    2. Big Franks easily has the best hot dogs I've had so far in Toronto - and I'm always on the lookout for a good dog.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Yongeman

                                        Has anyone tried that new(ish) place on the East side of Yonge @ Gerrard? Forgot the name but it looks kinda corporate. A quick glance at the menu showed some fun toppings. Too busy to stop and eat though. And it was 9am.

                                        1. re: piggywiggy

                                          That place @ Yonge & Gould was here today gone later today. Already closed.

                                          1. re: piggywiggy

                                            It's out of business and you didn't miss anything. It was supposed to be the prototype for someone's franchising goldmine and they did make changes when they were slammed. But, like every other hot dog in Toronto, the beasts themselves had little taste.

                                        2. There's a hot dog place across from the entrance to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton. I can't remember the name. They aren't the best hot dogs in the world but it's an old family run place that's fun if you're in the neighbourhood.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: crawfish

                                            That would be Easterbrook's. You can read about it here. http://www.iloveicecream.com/easterbr...

                                            They have another location in Burlington on New Street just west of Guelph Line. http://www.iloveicecream.com/easterbr...

                                            1. re: peasontoast

                                              I've given up eating/cooking ordinary Hot Dogs since I discovered Piller's Knuckers in Loblaws (as well as other places). They BBQ well, boil or microwave )cut a couple of slits to keep them from curling up...they may be a bit salty for some ...but I think they're great. My husbands favourite Hot Dog (beef or veal) are the "Baldwin Street" brand also available at Loblaws...I think they are the ones used by the 'hot dog vendor' inside the Air Canada Centre. As for toppings... Willie's zuccinni relish, sauerkraut and hot peppers as a must have at my house..the other things just gild the lily!!

                                              1. re: pearlD

                                                Baldwin Street makes the only chicken dog I like. Yummy enough to not feel at all virtuous.

                                          2. Buddha Dog is open. They were very disorganized (which seemed strange for just a hot dog joint) so I ran out of patience after a 5 minute wait of nothingness.

                                            Hope to hear good things for those who were served.

                                            6 Replies
                                              1. re: mrbozo

                                                Royal Beef on the Danforth has excellent hot dogs. There is no label on them so I'm not sure of the brand but they are very, VERY good!

                                                1. re: mrbozo

                                                  there is NO everything. it is short in size, comes naked for 2 bucks and you can then order a sauce and/or cheese for 25 cents each. I didnt see any sign of any other condiment.

                                                      1. re: ishmael

                                                        Precisely why, now that there is a Buddha Hot Dog franchise in the GTA and I've wondered about their good reputation for a while, I must satisfy my Buddha belly's curiosity before it (the belly) disappears as planned.

                                                1. re: Picton Girl

                                                  I went today, can't necessarily share the enthusiasm for BD, but will post a better review in it's own thread.

                                                  1. re: diesta

                                                    Look forward to hearing - with much interest. I tried again today to get a dog but they had no clue how to ring them in with their wand and the guy said something was "unright" with the little cooker on the counter - so again I left the line and the resto empty handed. Most amazing that they cant just ring in and serve a simple hot dog after taking so long to open.

                                                    It will take glowing reviews for me to go back anytime soon. So glowing reviews is what I am hoping for!!

                                                2. I just visited "Montreal Fries and Steamies" in Oshawa (36 Simcoe St. N.), based on several threads on here and other internet sites. Truly Authentic fries and dogs, like a typical casse-croute in Quebec. The fries were outstanding. Fresh cut, deep fried, almost the same as Decarie Hot-dog, except something very particular about these fries - almost every fry had peel on it. Perfectly salted as well. They have it down to a science. Absolutely outstanding Quebec style Fries. I ordered my dogs with chou and ketchup - the chou was finely minced and the dogs were dressed to specifications by the vendor. The dogs and fries, I though I was back in Stade Olympique back in the 70's. I'll be back next week. Already addicted !!! I've been missing these for 12 years.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: montrealer70

                                                    Are traditional steamies Schneiders? They have slipped over the years as the ingredient list expanded.

                                                    1. re: jayt90

                                                      No Schneider's. And the definition of a steamie remains the same (besides, even if one were to fiddle with toppings why should the wiener change?). Here's a good description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal...

                                                      1. re: jayt90

                                                        Decarie Hot Dog uses Lesters (note misspelling in conformity with Quebec's Charter of the French Language) hot dogs in its steamies:

                                                        http://www.lesters.ca/en/products.html

                                                        And no, I'm not doing this as an advertisement. ;-) Just a public service.

                                                      2. re: montrealer70

                                                        *sigh* Decarie Hot Dog...between them and Spruce Beer being in the same block, I was torn for years over loyalty...I still miss Spruce Beer. I'd walk in, and they'd have my "2 Hot Dogs, all dressed." in front of me in mere minutes. I miss those paper bags, soaked in grease and vinegar.... I wanna go home!

                                                        1. re: Darksyde

                                                          Hey Darksyde, thanks for the response, I'm not alone out here !!! If going to Oshawa isn't too much of a shlep for you, when I started eating my fries and dogs (in Lester's paper wrappers), I felt exactly the way I did the first time I went to Decarie Hot-dog in 1987. I remember having to announce my order to the hot-dog guy standing at the fryers, in front of 20 people how I like to have my dogs dressed. Also, I always took "fry in a bag" (you get more then if you get it on the plate). And only girls got straws in their cokes (in old-fashioned glass bottles). I remember those fry bags, for sure.

                                                          1. re: montrealer70

                                                            Does Montreal Fries and Steamies in Oshawa use Lester's dogs?

                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                              Yes, they proudly use Lester's. I also had their fries once, two days ago and I can't stop thinking about getting my next batch. They make Swiss Chalet fries seem frozen - and they make a terrific fry.

                                                              1. re: montrealer70

                                                                Do they have poutine? Ok, I just googled quickly and noticed they do from comments on another site.....is it any good?

                                                      3. It is unusual that the concept of The Dog House, that decades ago was on College west of Bay, has not resurfaced, even as a franchise operation. Itwas simple and very limited food spoilage I'm sre. The simple concept was to be cute, attractive to families. The 15 or so Hot Dogs were well named and the topping was the dog. Examples the Boston Bull would have Boston Baked Beans, Old Yeller would have yellow mustard, other dogs I can't recall, but imagine the Chihuaha, an Oriental, etc. Any dog not ordered as per purity named would be a Mutt, so your Mutt could have whatever you wanted on it. I'd bet that most wieners are today sourced from the North York supplier with now with all the huge jars of condiments to supply the hot dog vendors. The previous family owned operation sold their high quality wieners proudly, also had a butcher counter and a frig/freezer with more Jewish delicacies. Within not too many months the quality wiener went down, Jewish foods gone and the Hot Dog Vendor supplying business was in. Re. the controversy to try and get some real great and varied street food, of course long overdue, I find the carts ridiculous --- precooked wieners or sausage reheated! I have never ever bought off a cart and the way City Council is proceeding, I guess I never will!!!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Jar

                                                          Wow, hope I don't get chewed on for saying this, but I like the hotdogs at Costco. All beef, (I think Kosher) plus pop for 1.99, very juicy. They steam the buns, but now they wrap the hotdog and steamed bun tightly in foil, so the bun gets all soggy. Toppings aren't fancy, but the hot peppers are extremely hot. I like the fact that they perform temperature readings to ensure the hotdog is cooked. On occassion, I grab one while shopping on my lunch hour.

                                                          1. re: red dragon

                                                            Those are Olympia all beef from Mississauga, not kosher, and they sell them in the packaged lunch meat section to take home.

                                                        2. North York/Thornhill/Richmond Hill Post had a hot-dog taste off article a couple of months ago. Winner was 'Lick's'

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                            My favorite dogs are found in NY however my second favorite are found at the Canadian Tire at Dundas and Winston Churchill. Best street meat, ditch dogs, road rockets whatever you wish to name them = by far.

                                                          2. If you are looking for a veggie dog I say try any one of the vendors outside the Ball Park. They are delicious and the there are plenty of toppings. :) enjoy!