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Good Substitute For Vienna Beef Hot Dogs Available to Torontonians?

Hi all,

Does anyone know of a very similar hot dog to a Vienna beef dog available in the mid-west of the United States. I absolutely adore Vienna beef dogs, and would really appreciate it if anyone could direct me to a brand that is comparable/similar in taste/flavour/texture. Vienna Beef dogs aren't available mail-order to Canada, as far as I can find.

Thanks much!

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  1. Are you looking for mail order dogs from the States then? If you are you may not be able to get them. I'm not sure Canada or the Sates allow personall transport whether by mail, car, person etc into each other's countries. You might have to smuggle some Vienna a la Purple Bozra gang, in reverse. Btw, I think Toronto street vendor dogs are one of the best in North America.

    1. Plain old all beef Shopsy's dogs work for me. The US versions are just too damn greasy for my taste. If you can take pork, try the trad weinies and knockers at Brandt Meats in Mississauga.

      1. If anyone can identify ANY decent beef dog in Toronto, I beg you to share it. I have never once tasted a good local frank in Toronto in 3 decades.

        I used to get Hebrew Nationals imported by Nortown Foods (even at Loblaw's!), which disappeared, I believe, in retaliation for the US SARS ban on Canadian cows. Even these came only in skinless form. There once were occasional Nathan's dogs (I suspect smuggled) at some now defunct delis and hotdog carts. But there's apparently nothing now.

        I once spoke to the late Jack Kwinter (JKwinter Gourmet Franks), who told me that spicy, garlicky hot dogs didn't sell in TO. His successor (BIG Frank's) sells tasteless dogs, however high the ingerdient quality may be. Their "spicy beef sausage" is dry and blah. Some new kosher brands (e.g., Baldwin St) have little taste and mainly proclaim their low fat content. (A low fat sausage is an oxymoron--sorry Kagemusha.)Shopsy's "original recipe" taste mainly of salt to me, and the other Shopsy labels are awful. The kosher dogs from Montreal are apalling.

        5 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Ah embee! Someone that understands my pain and is obviously well-informed. Thanks for your post. I'm glad that in the very least, I've got a partner in my search for a good all-beef dog.

          I agree with everything you said. Shopsy's are hideous. If you've ever had a Vienna dog, you'll know what I'm sayin'. None of the supermarket brands compare.

          I was told that NY Fries recently released hot dogs available in AP/Dominion grocery stores are worth trying, but I hold out very little hope. Cart dogs are fine -- they're better than you can find in any grocery store, but they aren't anything close to a Vienna dog.

          I'm going to have to get someone to smuggle a few hundred across from Chicago, I'm afraid. A shame that it takes so much effort and espionage to obtain a simple hot dog that doesn't taste like ass in our city. :( I remain disheartened.

          1. re: embee

            You can get Nathans at the new casino in Niagara. Johnny Rocket serves them. Not grilled the same great way as in the US, but the same tasty dog.

            1. re: embee

              Talk about left out in the dark, We're finished, seems period, unless someone with so much food love and understanding shows up! We can find an authentic dog and a Macedonian restaurnt, there will be no war, no anger, a world of love! Decades ago, I found Soloway's on Alness as good as it gets, even saw Larry Solway there and as he observed me, I paid little attention, I don't bother celebrities! In those long ago days, they were superior to Kwinter. Shortly after the sale, a younger relative working for a food company recognized me at a wine show and was passionately inquiring of the quality. I assured him it was excellent. Well,,, I guess the contract ended, and unchewable gristle became availble ( you ought to hear the excuses ), fattier dogs and a loss of deli/perhaps kosher meats replaced by large buns and large containers for Hot Dog vendors. Obviously the situation CHANGED, and before/after, I've never, ever,never,ever bought from a Hot Dog Stand, sorry, a great many better options available!

              1. re: Jar

                I met Larry Solway about 10 years ago. Soloway's Hot Dog Factory wasn't in his family anymore and he didn't like it much either at that time. They seem to supply most of the beef dogs to the cart vendors from a commissary on, I think, Richmond East.

              2. re: embee

                I miss Hebrew Nationals - what a darn shame they're no longer available. I took extra packs with me whenever I was invited to friend's cottages and created a small cult following wherever I went. Never a disappointed customer, and often, fanatically loyal fans.

              3. I bought mine near the CN Tower by the waterfront. From a few pushcarts. I don't know if they're all beef but they are one of the best dogs (next to Gray's) I have ever had. Maybe Katz's will deliver. They may not be Vienna like but they're certainly all beef.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bigmackdaddy

                  If you mean Katz's on Dufferin St, as opposed to the New York place, it's hugely disappointing to me. They've been in business for 30 something years and aren't open to changing anything. As with JKwinter, they make a high quality beef dog. It's house made, in a real casing, with real smoke--and little flavour. (On a more positive note, try their beef knishes. They aren't knishes--more of a strudel really--but they're cheap, huge, and very tasty. Ask for a free side of their "pastrami sauce" to mix with the blah gravy.)

                  If you mean Katz's in New York, I don't think they ship their franks to Canada. Haven't been there in over 10 years, but they were great back then. They don't actually make their dogs in house, but I can't remember the source offhand.

                2. try the St. Lawrance Market there is a guy that sell all kinds of dogs and Susages.

                  1. The companion of that great tryst is gone. Find another.
                    I go to Yummy Market for their alleged all chicken smoked chicken hot dog and chicken Debrycena sausage. Very good on teh BBQ, an dcheap, $6.99 a kilo.

                    Of course they have a whole range of pork and mixed meat sausages in all shapes and consistencies which should be as good.

                    The house made (slavic) soups are terrific and cheap, but terrific if you like your food cooked to a salt taste.

                    I concur on Shopsy's, a `Canada Packers label. I wouldn't have them for nothing. A travesty for those who remember Shopsy's on Spadina, pre sell out.

                    A possibility is Perl's. The dogs are kosher but heavily flavoured with what to me are industrial chemical spices. I do like their salami though, which sets the standard for kosher salami here.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      I would recommend Debreziners as well. The best I've had in Toronto are from the Sausage King in the St Lawrence South Market and the St. Clair Hungarian Delicatessen on St Clair, west of Rushton. If they need to be beef only, call first as usually Debriziners have beef and pork.

                      FYI a few years ago When I was crossing the border more often, I had no problem bringing sausages in to Canada from the San Francisco as long as the United States as the country of origin was clearly labeled.

                      1. re: mikeb

                        If you ever get to Buffalo-Wegman's Grocery Store has an awesome array of locally produced dogs and sausages that come in vacuum packed containers. Naturally cased and similar in crunch to the Vienna dogs I remember so fondly from my days in Chicago. Last time in Buffalo I brought a 5lb lb pack of Sahlens naturally cased dogs and they were unbelievable. If you ever get to the Walden Galereia in Buffalo, look for the longest line in the food court and you'll find Ted's Hot Dogs-a Buffalo tradition for like 100 years. Great grilled crunchy little dogs. You need about 3 to hit the spot!!

                        1. re: robb

                          I agree with you robb. Sahlens are an amazing dog. Most supermarkets in Buffalo carry them. I was just there two days ago and had to have a foot-long and onion rings from Ted's on Transit Rd. Great hot sauce too.

                          1. re: Yongeman

                            Western New York is a great place all things sausage. We also really liked White Hots when we first had them in Rochester. That Rytek Kutas, the author of IMHO the best book on sausage making "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing", came from Buffalo is no surprise.

                            That said you can really great sausages here in Toronto. Places where I like to go include the North and South St Lawrence Market, Brandts in Mississauga and various small butchers along St Clair W.

                    2. I know that Target sold Vienna Beef dogs in the snack bar and in the refrigerated section (they they recently stopped this in Boston). If there is a Target near you, you could try there. Honestly, I prefer the Toronto hot dog carts to Chicago dogs and always get one (at least) when I visit your fair city.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gourmaniac

                        Unfortunately, Target has not yet opened a store in Canada...

                      2. If you don't mind a nice country drive, Stemmlers meat market in Hieldleberg,just outside of St. Jacobs has fabulous franks and its closer than going to Buffalo.

                        1. I need a lunch spot near the Hamilton Art Gallery - no fiery hot cuisine, please.

                          1. I'm reviving this thread to get an idea of the recent hot dog offerings in Ontario.
                            There is no real hope of getting good, spicy, beef dogs in casings here from the U.S., unless an importer goes through several hoops. I haven't seen any in retail stores for several years.
                            There are many pork franks available, and several with combinations of pork, beef, and fowl, but beef is the odd man out here. Why is that important? Because there is a backbone of flavour in a beef frank that can only be imitated with other meats. In fact, Vienna has stated that they only use beef from older bulls, something that would never reach the market as a prime roast. However, the meat stands up to their spicing.

                            Here is what I have found over the summer
                            Loblaws PC Old Fashioned Smoked Wieners. pork and beef, collagen wrap, 22% fat
                            Kwinters all beef, skinless 28% fat
                            Lester's all beef Angus premium, skinless, 29% fat
                            Olympic all beef, skinless
                            Freybe's franks, all pork, lamb casing
                            Schneider all beef, skinless, 25% fat
                            Baldwin Street all beef, skinless.
                            Deli Cart pork, collagen
                            Loblaws all beef, skinless, 26% fat
                            Loblaws Ball Park all beef, 22% fat
                            Maple Leaf Top Dogs all beef, 12% fat

                            There are many other skinless franks from Schneider, Maple Leaf, and Maple Lodge, but these generally use pork or fowl, mass market, and not as good.

                            I have enjoyed only a few of these dogs, on a bun: PC Old Fashioned, Lester's, and Deli Cart. Freybes has the best snap, but the taste is better suited to choucroute than a bun.
                            I haven't found Baldwin St yet, but I'm told they are not worth seeking out.
                            Any other offerings? I'm interested in finding out whether beef dogs in casings are made by any smaller sausage companies, (Cumbrae, Royal, Brandt, St Jacob's market, and so on...)