CLOSED: Craft Dogs (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 95 King Street East
Type of Meal: Lunch

If you like hot dogs, then Craft Dogs is the place for you. With a menu focused solely on these wieners in a bun, you’ll find interesting combinations with a variety of meats and toppings. If nothing catches your eye, the naked dog is also an option allowing you to customize to your heart’s content. Or if you like secret menu items then ask for the “Crack Dog”, essentially a hot dog topped with poutine.

The Chicago shout out ($6.69) is the closest to what a typical hot dog would be - made from a beef chuck and pork shoulder wiener, then topped with a tart pickle, hot pickled peppers, yellow mustard, raw onions and diced tomatoes. I’d like to think I enjoy trying new and interesting things, but it seems for hot dogs I like the tried and true combo the best as the Chicago was my favourite of the day. The juicy tender wiener was able to shine through and allowed me to try the condiments they had available – curry mayo, red pepper mayo and smoked ketchup.

A close second was the pork belly BLT ($9.50) made with berkshire pork belly and topped with crispy thick bacon, tomatoes, mayo and lettuce. Not normally a huge fan of bacon, it actually worked with this hot dog adding that hint of smokiness to counteract the “porkiness” of the plump wiener. But, the wedges of tomatoes made it difficult to eat given they just kept falling off.

The grand poobah ($9.56), the one I chose, caught my eye given it’s made from longhorn water buffalo. This wiener was much leaner, denser and had a stronger taste to it (not necessarily gamier just more flavour). The black mustard mayo that topped it was spot on and went great with the bed of peppery arugula. For me, I wish Craft Dogs just stopped there. The tomatoes, onion and roasted garlic were unnecessary and overpowered the meat itself and not to mention left your breath as a force to reckon with afterwards.

Overall, I enjoyed the artisan wieners and could taste the quality ingredients used in them. But, they needed to be hotter as once the plethora of toppings were added the wiener arrives lukewarm. Perhaps it’s due to the meat being cooked ahead of time and then warmed up when an order is placed – which is understandable given a lot of individuals are looking for something quick to grab-and-go. Personally, I think Craft Dogs should offer the customer the option to wait longer and cook one fresh. After all, if you’re going to use such quality ingredients, it’s a shame when they’re not presented at their best.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!