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Craft Dogs - 95 King Street East

This was mentioned in the Openings thread, but since they opened today and I had lunch there, I figured I'd start something new.

Arrived around 11:45 am, and was their third customer.

I don't eat pork, so I asked which hot dogs didn't use a pork casing. My choices were the "Kobe Carny" hot dog or the "Asparagus Bun-dle". I went with the Kobe Carny, fries and a sparkling water.

The menu states that the Kobe Carny hot dog comes with Kobe beef chili , raw onions and yellow mustard. As I had a few meetings this afternoon, I asked for no raw onions.

In a word, the hot dog was delicious! The chili was amazing, and the hot dog was tasty with a nice crunch from the lamb casing.

The fries were a tiny bit undercooked, but I told them when they asked me how everything was, and they said that they would fry them a bit longer. As I said, I was their third customer, so I wasn't upset.

There were a number of people walking in when I was eating. I was gone by 12:10, so not sure how busy they got.

Bill came to just under $15 for the hot dog, fries and the water. Not cheap, but definitely worth it for the quality food.

They have a liquor licence and serve beer in bottles and on tap.

My biggest complaint is that they don't serve Diet Coke, but rather have artisanal soft drinks available. I didn't ask if any were sugar free.

It's a great addition to the neighbourhood. I've attached the hot dog menu attached as their website isn't up and running yet.

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  1. Unfortunately I think that CH downsizes images. I tried saving the image and zooming in but I can't read anything on the menu except for the name. Could you maybe put up a bigger one elsewhere for us to see. Thanks for the report

    2 Replies
    1. re: ylsf

      Looks to me like:
      Naked Dog
      Chicago Short Cut/Shout OUt
      Asparagus Bundle
      Kobe Carny *

      Duck Dog *
      California Dream
      Spicy Thai Dog
      BBQ Pulled Pork Dog
      Pork Belly BLT *

      The ones with asterisks cost more than $10.

      1. re: mstestzzz002

        Thanks but I was hoping for the "ingredients" part, which I think is what is written underneath the names? I am curious about the size of the hot dogs... Like "jumbo"? or standard weiner size?

    2. Thanks for the detailed review! I'm very interested to try this place as an occasional lunch option since I can walk there. I know some will probably not be happy with that price point for "just a hot dog" but if the food is half as good as you described it sounds like it may be worthwhile.

      1. Do you recall if they had ant chicken or veggie dogs?

        6 Replies
        1. re: kwass

          No chicken and the veggie dog is the Asparagus Bun-dle, which I'm not sure is a proper hot dog, or just asparagus spears with toppings. I was told it tastes a lot better than it sounds! Menu says sheeps milk ricotta, smoked pepper mayo, arugula and grilled onion.

          1. re: CarNut

            Sounds weird! Thanks CarNut!

            Wonder why they wouldn't have a chicken dog though. That's pretty standard @ hotdog places these days.

          2. re: kwass

            There is a chicken dog (or there was one during their soft opening last week), I believe it's called the Cali (someone picked it up for me, so I'm not entirely certain of the name). It's about the size of a sausage, so definitely bigger than a standard wiener. It was very good.

            1. re: Truffles

              Thanks for the info Truffles. Like I said earlier, it seemed odd that they didn't have a chicken dog on the menu.

              1. re: kwass

                My apologies - I checked the menu again, and they do have a California Dream dog which is chicken and avocado, with pea shoots, tomatoes, and radish coriander cucumber jicama slaw.

                It must have a pork casing though, because I asked which dogs were pork-free and was told either the Kobe Carny or the Asparagus Bun-dle.

          3. Are the artisanal soft drinks made with artesanal water?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

              Even better, do they have half price coupons?

            2. This sounds crazy expensive for what you are getting, but won't knock it till I try it.

              I really really really wish restaurants would stop calling wagyu or whatever the hell it is they are putting in there Kobe beef. It's completely deceptive and unfair to the true product.

              15 Replies
              1. re: themiguel

                Well, the very idea of selling a Kobe dog as some kind of premium upgrade with a price to match is deceptive and unfair. The main appeal of Kobe is the impressive marbling, which is rendered completely moot when you grind the meat into a slurry for a hot dog. Any flavour upgrade is also pretty much completely cancelled out by the salt and all the other spices that go in there.

                1. re: Michael N

                  yeah kobe anything at pretty much anywhere is a real idiot trap. a quick wikipedia searching has informed me that less than 400 kg of kobe beef is exported yearly and something tells me that this hot dog joint probably isn't grinding any of it.

                  1. re: disgusti

                    Less than 400kg a year?

                    That seems awfully low to me. This info seems tough to believe.

                    1. re: magic

                      I don't know... For real, certified kobe beef it doesn't seem unbelievable for such a small amount to be exported, especially considering they only started exporting it fairly recently if I'm remembering correctly. Most of what is served outside of Japan is wagyu or some other kind of hybrid not quite Kobe beef. I could be wrong though

                      1. re: disgusti

                        Who knows.... but that does seem a little low.

                        That's about the weight of one cow.

                            1. re: kwass

                              Thanks Kwass, a good read about the types of beef and production. Keep in mind though that those are American regulations and stats, not necessarily Canadian.

                              1. re: justsayn

                                True! I didn't think about that. However, I think the point of the article is that, by and large, beef that's advertised as "kobe", really isn't kobe beef at all.

                                1. re: kwass

                                  Yeah that article is slightly out of date but has the right idea

                    2. re: disgusti

                      Using Kobe beef to make hot dogs _is_pretty silly (and a ripoff). Besides which, a truly premium quality hot dog (to me anyway) is made with mostly pork.

                      1. re: The Professor

                        "a truly premium quality hot dog (to me anyway) is made with mostly pork."

                        Not. A. Chance.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Alright then...but in case you didn't notice, I did say "to me anyway". And "to me anyway", all beef hot dogs just aren't as good. There are a few brands that I'll eat, but give me a real pork/beef dog any day.
                          "To me anyway".

                          Different strokes, Davwud. :-)

                          1. re: The Professor

                            Yes, you are entitled to your own opinion.
                            Even if it is wrong....;-)


                2. Looking forward to trying this place.

                  There's also a new place on Dufferin n/o St. Clair on the west side. It's more like a hot dog stand rather than a haute dog boutique.


                  1. I have to say I am not getting much information about the all natural, hand made dogs here.
                    There are three reviews on Yelp so far; two pans and one fluff.
                    The proprietors are trying to turn $1 ingredients into a $10 value added boutique dog.
                    Tourists on King will go home bragging about the $10 hot dogs and $5 lemonade in Toronto. That's world class!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: jayt90

                      My review doesn't quite match up with the original poster - i threw the bill out - but I paid $17.25 for the Kobe dog, and an order of fries. I could be wrong - but I believe it was $11.50 for the dog, $4.25 for the fries... or something like that anyways... it's possible there are different sizes of fries, and they just gave me a large - because there were enough fries for three people.

                      The dog was disappointing - if you're going to try the place -order the basic dog for $6.25, and top it the way you want - the kobe dog, as other posters have alluded to, is kind of a silly idea for hotdogs... I just figured it must be their signature dog, so i wanted to try it.

                      I don't mind paying for food - but there's a Big Smoke Burger a block away - I don't see how you can possibly charge the same price for a hot dog as a burger - I'll stick to Big Smoke...

                      1. re: andyb99

                        "I don't see how you can possibly charge the same price for a hot dog as a burger" - if it is a "house made" all meat dog that is basically the same weight as a hamburger and has better toppings than Big Smoke why would you not pay the same price? Just because the idea of a hot dog as being cheap and mass produced does not mean that they all are.

                        One thing I did not see mentioned is the texture.. are these more course like a sausage or very processed like a standard hotdog?

                        1. re: pourboi

                          Well, Big Smoke is also "house made" and I disagree that they're "basically the same weight."

                          I've got no problems paying extra for hot dogs - one of my favorite lunches in Vegas is a hotdog at a place at Wynn, I've gone several times, and it's not cheap.

                          Go try it out for yourself and then tell me it's worth the $11.50 I paid.

                          1. re: pourboi

                            their dogs are natural and nitrate free. everything is actually made in the back with cuts of meat from local farms. in fact, I believe everything that goes on the dogs is made in-house. this is strictly a hot dog place so it's all wieners..the texture was as such..

                            1. re: pomboho

                              Nitrate free is a ruse. I learned that from embee, before he left this forum in disgust.

                              Concentrated nitrates or nitrites from heavily processed celery results in the same preservative action as potassium nitrate/nitrite or sodium nitrate/nitrite. There is no effective benefit from concentrated celery juice. All hot dogs are heavily processed slurry, including Craft dogs. Ask them to outline the process.

                              The only natural cured meats are cured with salt , sugar and smoke in the hills of Appalachia, and not sold to the public. You probably wouldn't like them because they are gray, not red.

                                1. re: LexiFirefly

                                  Mine too.

                                  Just made bacon this evening.


                                2. re: jayt90

                                  They have a smoker..and their wieners are gray and not red for the reason of just salt vs nitrates as far as I was told and shown...

                        2. Went here - do not recommend. Overpriced street meat. Nothing really that gourmet about the dogs or the buns for that matter. Yes they are dressed to impress with toppings (kind of like those poutineries that are popping up everywhere). However, I shiver just thinking about the meal I had here - it was that bad. I think it was the coleslaw they put in there. I know hot dogs are typically that frankfurter style of sausage, but that has to be because it is cheap to make that crap. If I was to open a fancy hot dog place I would be going with proper home made sausages (e.g. like the ones you get in the Market from that sausage seller). I would also not use a regular nasty hot dog bun. However, don't take my word for it - go try it yourself and form your own opinions.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: johners

                            That's kind of an odd suggestion -- hot dogs and sausages are two very, very different things, aside from their similar shape. That's sort of like going to a place that sells Jamaican patties and saying that you wish they'd serve empanadas instead.

                            1. re: Michael N

                              Nah if I'm plunking down 10.99 for a hot dog (protip: I'm not) I expect more along the lines of a sausage, regardless of what they call it

                                1. re: johners

                                  I've got an even better idea: if you don't like hot dogs, don't go to a hot dog joint. Weird, I know!

                                  1. re: Michael N

                                    I'm with you Mike. Typical Toronto attitude. If a hot dog is good then a sausage must be better. Well, no it's not. It's actually if a hot dog is good then a sausage is a sausage. They are not interchangeable to create the same thing. Hence the different spelling, pronunciation and definition.


                          2. I went here for lunch today. I was wary based on this thread and the Yelp reviews, but I threw caution to the wind and decided to plunk my own cash down and form my own opinion.

                            This ain't street meat. I dare you to find this stuff being served anywhere in Toronto from a hotdog cart. If you do find it, don't be stingy, let us know!

                            I had the BBQ pulled pork dog and peach ginger ale. Pork belly dog, bbq pork shoulder in a too sweet sauce that needed more tang, smoked gouda, caramelized onions, and slaw on a split top bun. The pork belly dog tastes good, the pulled pork's a little too sweet, but if your mouth is big enough to get all the ingredients in one bite, it all comes together w/ the cheese offsetting the sweet pulled pork, the slaw adding crunch and the rest adding flavor.

                            The dog and soda came out to $15.75. It's a boutique hotdog joint. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: GoodGravy

                              The question is, would you go back?

                              1. re: ylsf

                                Sure I would. It's not on my blacklist or anything. I won't be rushing back, but it's on my list of lunch places that are nearby and not crap.

                              2. re: GoodGravy

                                I went as well today. Late afternoon lunch. Had the plain dog. I think the chef is from Beer Bistro.

                                I liked my "naked" dog. Pork/Beef mixture, decent snap, deliciously juicy and smokey inside. I would have preferred a soft squishy bun but it would not have suited the sausage that well.

                                you definitely have to adjust your expecatations as goodgravy said, a part of me wishes they could do something like Crif Dogs up here instead of gourmet dogs. Not running to go back but I do wish them luck because they're definitely going to need it with the market they're going for.

                              3. Went last night for the first time, very disappointed. Tried Bratwurst and Chicago. Neither was good. No grill taste. May be I was expecting sausage, not knowing there is supposed to be a difference, but I know I didn't like what I tasted. Perhaps very slightly better than a hot dog stand, may be. Worlds apart from those wiener I had in Vienna or Brat in Munich. Fries are great though, (former!) Beerbistro level great (the current Beerbistro fries has gone downhill by a mile).

                                Certainly didn't help is the whole setting and ambiance. It feels more like a Subway or Tim Horton's than a Big Smoke or Wurst, let alone Beerbistro. You bring your own garbage to those McD style garbage collector. Serving draft beers in disposable plastic cups, WTF?!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: derekw

                                  If you want a perfect dog with tons of that great grill taste, take a trip to Ted's hot dogs, in Tonawanda, NY.

                                  It is worth the drive!

                                  1. re: emq

                                    Has anyone tried Fusia Dog? I went once when it first opened, and it was pretty good. It's a tiny shop on Duncan.

                                2. Well they lasted just over a year... walked by today and there was a closed sign on the door and when I looked in the window they were totally cleared out.. all the equipment gone..