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Why can't Detroit outdo Tony Packo's in Toledo?

Sometimes I think I'm a skirted cheerleader for Detroit. On the auto blogs--and there are so many--I am always defending the home turf from the barbarians at the gate. But I never understood the LaFayette vs American coney dog rivalry. I even watched the Food Wars episode. At last year's auto show I bought one dog at LaFayette and another dog at American. I ate them alternately one bite at at time. No difference. No difference at all. Give up the rivalry, there is no difference at all.

Then, after 25 years of seeing billboards cajoling me to taste a Tony Packo dog in Toledo, I succumbed. It was wonderful. Why can't we do this?

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Tony Packo's Cafe
7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

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  1. NO difference? Spanish Onions Vs Sweet Onions just to start off with.

    To me and and plenty of other that I know of that had driven down to Tony Packo's do not understand why there is any hype beyond the Signed hot dog buns and pickles. The hot dogs and sauce did not do anything for me.

    I actually am not that big of a fan of coneys to speak of but, I easily can tell the difference between them all and I am sorry but I can't support this. Now to me this is not a Ohio vs. Michigan prejudice. I say this as someone that thinks Columbus Ohio's Thurman Cafe can trump all Michigan Hamburgers that I have had (so far).

    2 Replies
    1. re: JanPrimus

      Heh. I haven't had a burger at Thurman Cafe, but I can't imagine it trumping the fare at Miller's in Dearborn. Or even Red Coat, for that matter. But that's another thread. Let's stick to dogs.

      1. re: JanPrimus

        Yes I know about the Spanish Onions Vs Sweet Onions difference, But this difference was subtle. Distinctly subtle.

      2. The really sad thing is--I counted the Michigan license plates in the parking lot--between 1/4 and 1/3. So sad.

        1. Honestly, LaFayette is not only good, but had (has) a history for me, and there is something to be said for that. I don't live in the area anymore, but when I come home to visit, I detour for a dog. Do you know why? The man at the steering wheel is unswerving in his faithfulness to LaFayette (and he's from Ohio). I would like to try both in the same trip.

          But, frankly, the little stand in my hometown just south of Detroit is always my first choice, with the sweeter 'Michigan' sauce, and the memories of my brothers annoying me in the backseat of the LTD with the River Raisin rustling in the background of the drive-in making it taste all that much better.

          I do think that the 'first and best' experience has much to do with subsequent choice. In Michigan, our urban centers our small, and towns centered around family. Loyalty has much to do with it, I've always thought.

          And good to know that Packo's is still open; we both wondered when news of the company bankruptcy reached us.

          5 Replies
          1. re: onceadaylily

            In Detroit we've learned that company bankruptcy is just the beginning of rebirth.

            1. re: dearborn barkis

              I like that. We think about moving back to the area, to Detroit (from Chicago), simply because the boyfriend and I *do* think there will be an upswing there. We hope for it, and would like to be a part of it.

              1. re: onceadaylily

                I would gladly cook your welcome home dinner.

                  1. re: onceadaylily

                    :) Excellent Jan. I think your goodwill won this food war for now. Just wait til next time!

          2. I'm sorry but I totally disagree. I have been to Tony Packos many times when I was working in Ohio. I don't think it is any big deal. It's all subjective! If you were to check any Michigan restaurants just inside the border you would find many Ohio license plates...nothing sad about that!

            I don't think you will find many people that agree with you. Detroit DOES do coneys right, along with many many other foods!! Just sayin....

            8 Replies
            1. re: Jack Freeman

              Indeed, Detroit does do foods right. Burgers at Millers (or even Red Coat). Square pizza at Buddy's. Sliders at Bates (or Greene's if your name is Boagman), and good coney dogs anywhere--and I mean anywhere. But I've never had a Tony Packo quality dog in Michigan.

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              Tony Packo's Cafe
              7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

              1. re: dearborn barkis

                Maybe if Michigan had won the war over Toledo lo those many years ago, you would have had a Packo-quality in Detroit.

                I'm sorry, I had to throw that out there. I was in my thirties before my Ohioan-born BF informed me of such a war, that Michigan and Ohio went to battle over Toledo, and that Ohio won. I laughed for far too long, simply because I grew up in a city between the two state boundaries, and that hard-won line meant so little to me. As does the distinction of a coney dog versus what you get at Packo's. The first is Greek, and the second is Hungarian: they are not really comparable.

                1. re: onceadaylily

                  Hungarian, you say. I assume that is why I couldn't get fries with my carry-out order. It was "mashed potatoes and gravy" or else.

                  1. re: dearborn barkis

                    Ha, ha. I bet. The Hungarians do 'soft' foods just as well as they do pickled and preserved vegetables and meats, which is the heart of the Packo's menu. The Greek tradition is a bit different, and appeals (more readily, I think) to the area's core of French settlers, and the later influx of workers from the South: stewed, baked-casserole or fried food was sure to please. The Italians fit in quite nicely.

                    1. re: dearborn barkis

                      Yes! My Hungarian ancestors thank you --- a sausage is not a hot dog.!

                    2. re: onceadaylily

                      IIRC, we got the UP in exchange for Toledo...

                      I think we came out ahead. I'll take pasties over Packos, and Tahquamenon (my avatar is the falls in a cold cold winter) over, well, the whole state of Ohio.

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        > IIRC, we got the UP in exchange for Toledo...

                        Correct ... and two itty-bitty peninuslas that are mostly unknown:

                        http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&s...

                        1. re: coney with everything

                          That's exactly what I said to the boyfriend, once I stopped laughing. I kept saying, "You *won* Toledo? Oooh!" And then I start laughing again.

                  2. And props, db, for defending the home team on the blogs. I do my little all sometimes: guess which comment is mine :)
                    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: coney with everything

                      I especially like #10 from veh, but many are worthy of being from Detroit. BTW, on anti-Detroit auto blog TheTruthAboutCars.com I'm known as "Telegraph Road".

                      1. re: dearborn barkis

                        I gave up on TTAC but I might have to take another look. That dude is a douche

                        Telegraph...ah, the wonders of Bartz Bakery's walnut cookies!

                        1. re: coney with everything

                          I've never been tempted to taste beyond their wonderful bear claws. But those cookies are on my list now.

                    2. > Why can't we do this?

                      Are you familiar with Hippos (in Troy) ?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rainsux

                        I haven't yet. But it is now on my list.

                      2. Even though I loved Klinger on M*A*S*H*, the only reason why Tony Packo's is famous is because it was mentioned on the show. The coneys are just okay, the chili is not good at all. I like the autographed buns, though. What else is there to do in Toledo?

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                        Tony Packo's Cafe
                        7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: momskitchen

                          I think my 18 year old son was making orgasm sounds when he ate his dogs

                            1. re: momskitchen

                              Good zoo, although not as good as Detroit. Better art museum than the Detroit Institute of Art. Probably a better "science" museum.
                              Tony Packo's is decent. Detroit does coneys better, let alone most culinary delights. Packo's is minutes from the Michigan border, so it's hardly sad to see cars with Michigan license plates there. It must be the pickles and peppers.

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                              Tony Packo's Cafe
                              7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

                              1. re: Fibber McGee

                                Art museum seriously better than the DIA??

                                Every time I think about food in Toledo I remember a joke from MASH:

                                Klinger says he and Conway are going to open a restaurant together back home, and mentions how Toledo desperately needs another four-star restaurant.

                                B.J.: "Yeah, the other one closed when all the pin-boys quit."

                                1. re: coney with everything

                                  The DIA is awesome, don't get me wrong. The Rivera mural alone makes it one of the most important art museums in the country. But Toledo has its must sees, as well with its Glass Pavilion among other things. IMHO, and that's all it is, the overall collection exceeds Detroit. Not by that much, mind you. They're both world-class.
                                  Lack of dining scene aside, B.J. was an a**.

                                  1. re: Fibber McGee

                                    yeah, totally prefer MASH eps with Trapper John, pre-taking themselves too seriously

                                    1. re: Fibber McGee

                                      It should have been called the Hawkeye show.

                                  2. re: Fibber McGee

                                    I've been to the science museum in Toledo...it's okay if you have small kids. Their art museum pales in comparison to the DIA though.

                                    1. re: momskitchen

                                      They're both rated by those who rate those sort of things as top 10 in the country. That's the bottom line. You like one better, I like one better, we're both right when it comes to what we like.
                                      As for the science museum, you just described Detroit's, as well, with your comment.
                                      The food has a much greater disparity than the museums. Let Toledo have their own style of coneys. I'm in no rush to stop at Packo's again but I never have tired of American/Lafayette or their suburban progeny.

                                2. I started another thread on Tony Packo's at The Park, a bit ago, because I loathed the experience. Obviously, nothings' changed.

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                                  Tony Packo's Cafe
                                  7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

                                  1. Been to ACI. Been to TP's. Loved 'em both. I don't see why one has to supplant the other.

                                    DT

                                    1. Coney's and hot dogs in general are better in Detroit..the State of MI only allows real cuts of beef in their hotdogs. Tony Packo's is not even close to American, LaFayette, National...

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                                      Tony Packo's Cafe
                                      7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

                                      1. I'm not a big fan of Packo's sausage, but I think the Chicken Paprikash and Sweet Hot Pickles are really good.