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Lou Dawgs - King & Portland

Walking the dog today and noticed the place looks like it has finally opened. Southern BBQ sandwhiches" sems to be the theme. Liquor Licence application in the window and a sign posted that says open till 3am. Any one try it this weekend?

Also saw a note at Thuet (Bite Me) on the door from a film company saying anyone who enteres agrees to be filmed. They had that yellow film on the windows that film crews use. Can't be restaurant Makeover because they were still open for brunch. Anybody know what is happening?

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  1. I was on the streetcar Friday night and saw they had an opening. On Sat went by to get a picnic. Inside there's plenty on seating and that day there were 2 or 3 tables occupied.

    The menu has sandwiches (choice of white or whole wheat buns) under 10 bucks: pulled pork, beef brisket, pulled chicken, a fried fish. Fries, Mac and cheese, beans, cornbread, salad and coleslaw are among sides you can get either small or large. Desserts were cookies, brownie or a smoked(?) apple crumble.

    The girl at the counter gave me a coleslaw sample which was creamy. It had sunflower seeds and cranberries but it was too oniony for my taste. She said the only drinks they currently have are pops, water and ice tea but they are working on getting juices and lemonade soon. They cater but don't deliver.

    I ordered the pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, a salad and fries. Of the sandwiches we preferred the beef but the pork was good too. The meats were moist and flavourful on their own tho the sandwiches come presauced. There wasn't too much sauce like at some places where they try to hide dry or not very good meat. The reg bbq sauce is a bit ketchupy and not that interesting but i liked the smokier "spicy" (not really) option. The fries were under fried frozen things and the salad was a mesclun mix. Overall, the sandwiches were good and I'd go back to try other things.

    1. Why don't they have hours on their website

      2 Replies
      1. Place looks great, lots of natural wood etc.. Tried the beef brisket sandwich takeout.. it was not bad but a little dry.. will have to try it again as the people seemed freindly and I never want to judge a place by its takeout.

        1. went today had the beef brisket, Overall the meat was not bad, not to dry wih a nice subtle seasoning. I liked that fact that they didn't drown the meat in bbq sauce, but give you the option of more BBQ at the cutlery counter. The bun is fantastic very fresh. like to try to pulled pork next time. Overall a great place to go for lunch. Quick, Cheap and Tasty.

          1. The girlfriend and I had dinner there tonight. She had the Black Bean and Corn salad in a chipotle lime dressing and the brisket sandwich. I had the Mac & Cheese, Coleslaw and Pulled Pork sandwich. I think all of the food can be summed up by one word: lackluster.

            There was no chipotle or lime anywhere in the BB & C salad. It just tasted bland. The coleslaw was creamy but a dry creamy and lacked any zip. We splashed some vinegar on it to help. I don't understand the sunflower seeds nor the cranberries. It just tasted bland. The mac & cheese was a good sized helping. It had a crusty top which was okay. The actual macaroni and cheese really didn't have any character. It just tasted bland. I was astounded to read later on the menu that there was jalapenos in it "for just the right amount of kick." There was no kick. I was wondering what the occasional muted green fleck was in there. Apparently it was the jalapenos. It just tasted bland. The brisket was quite dry and not overly sauced though you can always add more sauce at the counter. Can't fault them on the sauce as that's personal preference but the meat shouldn't be so dry. Same deal with the pulled pork though it was a little more saucy. The meat wasn't very warm though it wasn't stone cold. It just tasted, you guessed it, bland! Oh and we couldn't find any smoke in the sandwiches either. The buns were nice but we didn't go there for the buns.

            They do or will have beer and alcohol. There's that big green liquor license sign in the window so they're probably not serving any yet. They will have two taps. Both Sleeman. The bottles are Sleeman. Ugh. How about Mill St or Great Lakes or Grand River or or Black Oak or Denisons or any of the other vastly superior Ontario Craft Brews available instead of Sleemans. *sigh* WHY CAN'T I GET GOOD BEER WITH MY BBQ HERE?!?!?!

            We had Memphis BBQ (Woodbridge edition) last weekend and the difference is like night and day. I wouldn't bother with Lou Dawgs unless they get their act together and start serving the food that's described on their menu.

            Here is what I want (this is a free restaurant idea for anyone to run with):

            I want a large location in downtown Toronto. Screw the 'burbs! The Roundhouse next to Steamwhistle would have been perfect if not for Leon's moving in. I want a large patio. I want a brewpub with four in-house brews with two seasonals. I want additional beers on tap from Steamwhistle, Great Lakes, Grand River, Denison's, Black Oak, Nickelbrook, Mill St., Church Key (Cranberry Maple Wheat and the Holy Smoke!), any other OCB and a couple of American micros if the LCBO will bring in some. I want an owner or chef that lives, breathes, sweats smoke in all his or her meats and have some kickass sides to go with the BBQ. I want to gasp when I see how large the pulled pork sandwich is when it's placed in front of me. I want to ponder for a full two minutes how I will attack the thing. I want Blues music. I want smoke in the air that hits you in the face anywhere around the place.

            Now please, someone go and do it! We'll eat like rabbits through the week and pig out every weekend at the joint. We will bring our friends. We will bring our relatives. We will bring strangers off the street.

            4 Replies
              1. re: callitasicit

                wandered in after the jays game Friday night. Sat down with a pint of Sleemens finest (a personal perennial favorite) and chatted with Daryl briefly and then a few of the fantastic waitresses. Complimentary wings for the grand Opening were delicious - perhaps a little OVER seasoned, but a side of delicious sauce seemed to fix that issue. I'll be going back for a sandwich sometime later this week.

                My only negative I could think of was I missed the "out of order" sign on the bathroom door and found myself locked in with no handle on the inside of the door. Had to call a friend to rescue me...d'oh!! (Perhaps I had more than a pint of sleemen/shots of delicious JD...) :D

                1. re: lister

                  Got take out for my office. We got pulled pork, pulled chicken and the brisket. I judge BBQ by the pork and was a bit disappointed. I am used to pulled pork including a little bit of the crust that gets formed when the rub is smoked for 10 - 12 hours. I always look for those little bits of crunchy goodness and my pulled pork didn't have any.

                  I found the pulled chicken and brisket did have a bit of the crust, so I am sure that it does exist. The chicken was tender and moist. Brisket was tender if a touch dry. I did not find things were over sauced which was good. The buns are fresh, but I find they overpower the meat. I hesitate to be too critical in this respect because they are "Southern Sandwiches," not BBQ Overall I found, as did lister, that the food was a bit bland. (exception being the jalapeno cheddar muffins which I gather they have improved on by upping the Jalapeno quotient.)

                  My overall verdict is that it is not BBQ, but it is fresh and home made. I will likely return and try the fish which seems to be a big hit. In terms of the whole meat bread combination, at the risk of comparing apples to oranges, I prefer California Sandwiches to this place.

                  1. re: lister

                    I would assume they use an electric/gas unit with a thermostat, with a woodbox for chips or a place for a log or two as in a larger unit. I'm a c'uer and use a totally wood fired unit. The difference is unreal. The electric smokers are great and almost a must as they provide consistency and a little more hands free operation, but the smoke doesn't always come through on some cuts. Wood fired units require constant supervision to control temperature - if you smoke a pork shoulder for 18hrs, you add wood every hour or so and adjust dampers for temp, whereas electric units are set and held automatically.

                    Most barbecue that lacks punch is due to the rub/seasoning BEFORE smoking. If your rub lacks balance, your product lacks flavour.

                    This place is not bad but it's not a BBQ joint. It's a restaurant with BBQ. Messing around with asian influences, fusion coleslaws, ect., distracts rather than adds to the "southern" feel. If your food is good, you don't need gimmicks.
                    Overall, I liked this place. It's a welcome addition to the diversity of small restaurants in the area. Give it time and let them hone in on what they do well and I bet it hits the mark.

                  2. First try today - brisket sandwich and meaty beans. I was pleasantly surprised that smoke is discernable in the beef, but disappointed in the tougher texture and the fact that it is pulled! Also, the white bun has a lot of chew to it, so overall, this is a moderately chewy sandwich. Beans are not smoky but its meat is slightly more tender than the beef sandwich.

                    Counterperson claims that their pork is smoked even though menu says slow roasted. No homemade ice tea or lemonade. Both bbq sauces are disappointing -- the original is worse (too similar to ketchup).

                    Didn't yet try the corn muffins (described as sweet) or the coleslaw (described as vinegar and mayo based). Desserts are bought from outside bakery.

                    Wood is described as cherry and/or sweet maple.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      I tried Lou Dawg's today and my review is mixed. Some very good and some areas for improvement. Overall, it's good and we'll be back.

                      We had a pulled pork sandwich and a beef brisket. In both cases, the meat was very tender and good. But opposite to what a lot of previous posters experienced, I found the sandwiches WAY over sauced, to the point where the sauce totally overpowered the meat. I found a couple of unsauced chunks inside and fished them out to confirm my suspicions that the meat was smoky and flavourful, so it seemed a real shame that I could barely taste the pork or beef most of the time due to all the sauce. Also, the sauce on the beef sandwich was quite tasty but the "original bbq" on the pork was mostly tomatoey, almost like ketchup to my taste.

                      I asked if it's possible to order an unsauced sandwich and put just the right amount on for yourself, but she said they presauce the whole batch. She did say that if I called a day ahead, they could set some aside for me, which I appreciated. The service was excellent, by the way. We were the only people in the place (Saturday lunch). We didn't know that you normally order at the counter and we didn't find out till she brought the bill and mentioned that they don't normally do table service but that she was delighted to take care of us since they weren't busy. She delivered the message in a way that didn't make us feel awkward or anything. She seemed very sincere when she said she was only letting us know so we wouldn't be confused next time if they were busy.

                      Aside from the sandwiches, we tried the coleslaw (described accurately above) which I liked, the meaty chili which was very meaty and quite good but not really interesting (needs more spicing or something), and the corn muffin. The muffin is definitely a sweet one but offset with the melted cheddar inside. I saw a couple flecks of jalapeno in the bottom of the muffin but overall didn't taste it.

                      All in all, this place has good potential. They've got the meat right so the rest can be adjusted as they find their groove.

                      1. re: idnas

                        I found the pulled pork slightly smokey, tender with just enough sauce, but a little dry - could stand to be a little fattier, 'cause that's where the flavour is. It's unfortunate many people have an unfounded fear of fat, which in the right amount can absorb vitamins and actually control weight gain, so the restos cut it to a minimum.

                        1. re: idnas

                          I went back this weekend and had the pulled pork again. This time it wasn't over-sauced. I could really taste the meat and it was good. Maybe a fluke or maybe they've reduced the pre-saucing on the theory that those who want more can add it but those who want less have no options. Either way, I enjoyed the sandwich much more this time. I tried the sweet potato fries which were nothing special. I'd go back to the weird coleslaw next time, or try the potato salad.

                      2. is it a chain? with a name like that, it looks like it belongs in a Mississauga strip mall.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: dickiegreenleaf

                          Been a few times as I work in the area. Both the pulled chicken & pork are solid sandwiches. Good value, tasty, tender and plenty of lean meat. I hate dried fruit so the coleslaw is not an option. The cornbread tastes like cornbread - except with cheese. The beans are very good.

                          1. re: dickiegreenleaf

                            The one of the owner has a dog named Lou.

                            1. re: BruceMcK

                              Ate there this weekend. I had a fish sandwich which was very good. Hot, nice crunch on the coating and well seasoned. For an extra buck you can make any sandwich a po boy, so I did. They basically add a remoulade to the sandwich. Fries were decent. Girlfriend had the pulled pork and liked it. I tried a bite, a little dry but really not bad at all. The only downside was having to sit in a dark basement type space to eat on such a nice day. They also have three kinds of Frank's on the table which is fine but a few more interesting hot sauce selections would be nice. I work in the area and would definitely go back for lunch.

                              1. re: jamesm

                                Hadn't noticed the fish on the menu - will have to try it! The pulled meats come with coleslaw on the sandwich as a po boy, not remoulade. I guess they felt remoulade was better for fish.

                                1. re: deelicious

                                  Hmmm..it may have been coleslaw. I didn't actually look at it and the flavour made me think of some kind of variation of a remoulade type sauce. I attributed the crunch to be from the coating on the fish since it was very well cooked. Either way very tasty.

                                  1. re: jamesm

                                    Tried the brisket sandwich today (sans coleslaw - wasn't feeling it). It was really good. Will be going back to try more.

                                    1. re: magic

                                      had the pulled pork there last night and i po' boy'd it. it was delicious but my sandwich fell apart due to the amount of meat and coleslaw. otherwise, it was very tasty. i do understand what others are saying about it being a little dry as the meat was very lean. they do offer bbq sauce at the counter if you want to lather it up a lil bit more.

                                      the potato salad wasn't very good. but the sweet potato fries were great.

                                      they had a blues band playing and they were sooooooooo loud in an empty restaurant that it gave me a headache. will return for sure!

                            2. re: dickiegreenleaf

                              I keep calling it Lou Dobbs - not very appetizing.

                                1. re: always_eating

                                  Went in there late a few weeks back, they had the lights almost out, and a dj pumping music so loud we couldn't talk to each other enough to decide what to order.
                                  We decided to skip it and go to Reggie's.

                                  I sent an email asking what schedule they had as far as using the restaurant for a dance club vs. serving food and never got a response, so I didn't bother going back.

                                  1. re: bbbradk

                                    Had some today - overall was pretty decent and will return.
                                    The fries are so/so. Seasoned with seasoned salt but a bit dry, similar to frozen mccain fries both in their cut and texture.
                                    The coleslaw was pretty decent. I added it to my pulled pork sandwich for a dollar. The mayo in the coleslaw was a nice contrast to the sweet bbq sauce on the pork. The pork was abit lacking in crust, but tender and flavourful and not oversauced. The portion was huge, and I had to pull some of the meat out of my sandwich because I was stuffed. Friend had the beef brisket, said it was flavourful as well, but nothing special.
                                    I really wanted to try their wings and fish but they were out of both.

                            3. Tried this place out recently and here's what I think. The pulled pork sandwich was ok. It had good flavour and about the right amount of sauce. The bun was nice, too - not overpowering flavour to take away from the meat, but not the cheapo wonderbread-type you sometimes get. The texture of the meat, however, was on the chewy size. And the most distracting aspect to me was the size of the sandwich. It was overly massive. Just too much meat to chew! I also found that it wasn't fully pulled, as there were some chunky pieces in there. I would suggest there are many better sandwiches out there. The true success for me were the sides. Fries were great. And the salads are great, too. Overall, I would go back, but certainly would not run.



                              8 Replies
                              1. re: lunchboy

                                I agree, the pulled prok was bland and not juicy enough.

                                I will however return again and again for the bbq beef brisket sandwich - po'boy style (with their yummy slaw inside)!

                                And the buns are fantasatic.

                                1. re: Sui_Mai

                                  funny - i really hated the bun. found it too doughy and thick so that the meat was lost.

                                  1. re: Delish

                                    Agree with sui mai about beef over pork. The buns would be nice if they were softer but I ike that you can get whole wheat and it's still way better than a Wondertype product.

                                    1. re: chocabot

                                      just okay, as far as i'm concerned, i'm still searching for the gta's best...

                                      1. re: chocabot

                                        Had a beef brisket sandwich at their Trinity Bellwoods stand during the Queen St Art Crawl.

                                        They only had white buns but they were better than the factory buns they used when they first opened.

                                        The beef was moist, lightly smokey and the portion was generous (mind you for $8 it better be...) As before, it was sauced with their reg bbq sauce which imo is very bland and boring. They had their smokier sauce available (which actually does taste like something) in squeeze bottles but bf didn't want any. Without the other sauce my interest in Lou Dawg's pretty much disappears.

                                        1. re: chocabot

                                          When did the buns change? When I was there sometime before the summer I was absolutely disappointed by the overwhelming doughy-ness of the bun. I, and my two companions, thought the bun absolutely ruined the sandwich. Would that likely have been the old or new bun?

                                          1. re: Delish

                                            Well, the time i went close to their opening I only tried the WW bun. To me it seemed more like a multigrain bun since it was kinda pale and lacked crustiness. It was a bit doughy chewy like a Dempster brand bagel or something... BAD bread but not as bad as Wonderbread brand hotdog buns...

                                            The bun this weekend was a white bun. It looked more like it was from a bakery. The outside was golden brown and had a thin crust. The inside wasn't dense either.

                                            I think they changed buns or they keep vastly diff buns, white vs WW, or, the first time they were using whatever and had not settled on a bun supplier...

                                2. Does anyone know if Lou Dawgs is still at The Monarch?

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: magic

                                    Caplanskys was at the Monarch.

                                    Lou Dawgs is on King & Portland

                                    1. re: c_snapper

                                      Lou Dawg's took over the kitchen when Caplansky's vacated The Monarch. Just wondering if it is still there....


                                      1. re: c_snapper

                                        Lou Dawgs moved into the vacuum at the Monarch left when Caplansky's opened his own place. I would assume they are still there, as I haven't heard anything to the contrary. Though we know what they say about assuming. :)

                                        magic, why don't you just give the Monarch a quick call?

                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                          That is a solid idea. I might just shall. I thought the Chowhound crew might enable my laziness :)

                                          Edit: Yup, they are gone. Not there anymore. I'm sure they are still on King. But no way am I making another call ;)

                                      2. re: magic

                                        LOL wow, surprised you made that mistake :)

                                        1. re: duckdown

                                          magic seldom makes mistakes (heehee).

                                          1. re: magic

                                            oh oops, guess i'm the one who made the mistake -- i didn't realise they were in the monarch when caplansky left.

                                            i want to check this place out


                                            1. re: duckdown

                                              Yup they took over when Caplansky's left. But now they're gone. Only been once (to the King St. location) but I really liked my brisket sandwich. I want to return to the King St. location.

                                              1. re: magic

                                                Cool, sounds like something worth checking out, thanks for the heads up

                                                I wonder what kind of hours they keep.. that area is a zoo for most of the day until rush hour ends


                                                1. re: duckdown

                                                  I went in summer, where I lucked out and found some side street parking. If you don't mind walking a bit you can find free parking fairly easily. I almost never pay for parking. Not if I can help it.

                                                  But they have a website, check out their hours....

                                                  Cheers! :)

                                      3. I'm resurrecting this aging thread because we finally got around to trying this place on the weekend. The verdict: not terrible, but mostly disappointing overall. Sadly, I was really in the mood for ribs -- even "good by Toronto standards" ribs would have made me happy -- but my hopes were dashed as they were apparently still in the smoker at 5:30pm and hence not available for order.

                                        We made due with two sandwiches: the pulled pork and the brisket. Both were above average, as you would expect since sandwiches are the reason for the restaurant's existence, but neither were mind-blowing. The brisket was nice and tender but contained a higher portion of inedible fatty chunks than normal, meaning that you had to inspect before each bite lest you end up with a globule. The pulled pork was close to perfect with a nice non-mushy texture, a smokey taste, and thankfully not drenched in overpowering BBQ sauce like most Toronto variations. I liked it quite a bit, including the appropriately soft bun.

                                        Of the sides, the BBQ Beans were the best, if a little greasy. The pork ends in it were nice, though not "burnt" crispy as I've had elsewhere. The french fries, on the other hand, were awful: limp, soggy and glistening with grease. Perhaps they had been cooked in oil that was not hot enough.

                                        The house brand lager wasn't worth ordering, it was like fizzy brown water. As an admitted beer snob I would have preferred a Molson Canadian or something similar (maybe that's what it was?)

                                        In the end, the success of the pulled pork still tempts me to go back and try the ribs, but probably not for a while. Has anyone had the ribs here? Do they elevate the experience at this place, or should I just hold on to my cravings until next time I'm in the US? I'm not expecting wonders, but it would be nice to have some halfway decent ribs in the downtown core once in a while...