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Restaurants

Hoosier Daddy's

Posted by Anders Whist / Reviewed on October 30, 2013 / review policy

Hoosier Daddy TorontoHoosier Daddy's reminds me that sometimes the first warning sign about the meal you are about to eat is literally a sign.

Clever if slightly juvenile pun notwithstanding, Hoosier Daddy's name proclaims its lack of authenticity right off the bat. The Hoosier State, Indiana, is about 500 miles away from anywhere that traditionally makes great barbecue. This wouldn't normally be an issue if not for the proclamation that the restaurant is serving up "Toronto's best 'American Style' BBQ." It isn't, and it may not even be serving up the best BBQ sandwich at the Village by the Grange food court (try the pulled pork bao at Mean Bao).

Hoosier DaddyOne would be more willing to overlook geographically inaccurate signage if the food were better. Occupying a tiny space with a small kitchen just off the main drag at the Grange, Hoosier Daddy's cooks its BBQ off-site then ships it in cryovaced, to be sauced and served. At some stage though something goes awry, as of the three barbecue sandwiches being served only one rises above the level of acceptable.

Hoosier DaddyPulled pork, chicken, and beef sandwiches are all similarly sauced, slightly sweet but not unbearably so, with a touch of vinegary acidity that adds a pleasing contrast. In the case of the pulled pork though, the sauce is doing all the work, as the meat itself is wet, chewy and devoid of much flavour. The beef sandwich is better, with meat that possesses both texture and flavour of its own (which is kind of crucial, you know). The chicken is not so fortunate, but rather a dry, stringy mess lacking in just about every fashion.

The interplay between meat and bun is one nuance that's often lost at the border, but the kaiser roll pairs well with the meat here, at least in the miniature version ($2.25 or 3 for $6). At the medium, or "tweener" size ($4.50) the mediocre meat predominates, and I didn't have the heart (or stomach) to try out the large (daddy's big one, $6.95). Optional hot peppers and/or pickles are a nice touch, at least.

Hoosier DaddySides ($1.25 for a small dixie cup) are also a mixed bag, with a macaroni salad that tastes exactly like a macaroni salad being the best/most edible of the bunch. Coleslaw is shredded within an inch of its life and takes on an iridescent green hue that can't possibly occur in nature, not dissimilar perhaps to atomic waste, while baked beans are sweet and smoky and possess the mushed consistency of baby food. Chili ($4), available in turkey or vegetarian, is no better - soupy and tasting strongly of vinegar, and lacking in depth, spice, flavour and meatiness.

Hoosier DaddyA fried pork tenderloin sandwich ($6), a dish Indiana is actually known for, is about the only redeeming main on the menu (mini beef sandwich aside). The crispy and freshly battered tenderloin is topped with cheese, tomatoes and greens and oozes a mayonnaise based sauce. It has some heft to it and is better while hot (true of most fried sandwiches), so make sure to eat it while it's fresh.

Hoosier DaddyIt can be hard to find good, authentic barbecue in Toronto, and unfortunately Hoosier Daddy's does little to change that. The plan is to open more restaurants, but Daddy would be well served by righting the ship at the flagship store first. At least they make a good chocolate malt.

Hoosier Daddy TorontoPhotographs by Miranda Whist

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Discussion

23 Comments

Rich / October 30, 2013 at 12:15 pm
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Nice to see an honest review on here and not the usual sucking up for a free meal from the other "authors" BlogTO employs.
Joe / October 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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This is actually their second location. They had a spot in the rapidly emptying Cumberland Terrace (soon to be condos) basement. I think there signs are still on the empty Kiosk. They did not make much of a splash there as well and only lasted a few months this spring. Seems like a week branding effort with the punny name and the stark red and white décor. Just not quite retro but trying to hard to be. For me the best BBQ is Triple A on Adelaide I love their pulled pork sandwich, they leave you to sauce it yourself with a squeeze bottle of sauce but I find the smoke and the bark to be more than enough flavor.
Taco / October 30, 2013 at 03:00 pm
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Fairly certain none of their meat is actually touched by woodsmoke. I think it's all slow cooked to the stringy mush that it is. I will admit that I did enjoy the beef sandwich. The price is right, but I would wholesale avoid the side. I also tried the pork loin sandwich, it was tough because they microwaved the hell out of it.
lister / October 30, 2013 at 03:05 pm
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Saves me a trip, thanks!
Anders / October 30, 2013 at 03:08 pm
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"This is actually their second location. They had a spot in the rapidly emptying Cumberland Terrace (soon to be condos) basement. I think there signs are still on the empty Kiosk."

Yeah, as I understood it (could be wrong) it was kind of a pop up shop/test run type of deal that closed before this location opened. That information just didn't end up in the review in the end.
Herman Menderchuk / October 30, 2013 at 03:49 pm
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Holy Hoosier, That coleslaw looks R-E-V-O-L-T-I-N-G!!
Too bad! Such a simple concept. Prices seem right. Could be so good, but by the looks of it they really missed the mark!
Taco / October 30, 2013 at 04:00 pm
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One could get the beef sandwich then head to Helen's Magic Kitchen for a tasty, cheap and healthy side salad.
Americanstyle / October 30, 2013 at 04:27 pm
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LOL @ "American style".

Just go to Stockyards people, obviously.
v79 / October 30, 2013 at 05:22 pm
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I tried a couple of the mini ones (pulled pork and beef)when they were still in Cumberland and found them to be decent enough for the price, but nothing special. They're not something I'd go out of my way for, but I'd have no problem grabbing a few mini buns if I'm hungry and want a quick cheap lunch in the area.
Ralph / October 30, 2013 at 07:08 pm
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Not even a block from my apartment - I always give a place a chance - now after two trips I don't think I will be returning. The price is fine if fast food is your thing. But the MeanBao steps away serves up a sandwich to definitely write home about. I'll try it one more time before making a real call on what was looking like something different!
Mike / October 30, 2013 at 07:54 pm
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pretty sure those are KFC sides, especially the coleslaw
facultyrow / October 30, 2013 at 08:23 pm
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Dirty Norf / October 30, 2013 at 09:45 pm
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Why are Southerners constantly asking me to identify my father? None of their business, really.
Looking for real southern food / October 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm
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This place is not good. Horrible sauce. The food is very amateur. Best BBQ? Ha! Not even best slow cooker food!
Spare your taste buds and avoid this place.
Shawn replying to a comment from Americanstyle / October 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm
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What a helpful post; if you want food near Dundas and University, just travel 30 minutes by TTC to a different part of the city! A++++ advice, would read again..................I went when they were at Cumberland...the pulled sandwiches just tasted like bread and sugar, and the sides all had far too much sugar (especially the beans). Wasn't too impressed to see the pork tenderloin get microwaved either.
Kevin B. Hogg / November 3, 2013 at 10:42 pm
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Mr. Whist,

There are a number of items I wish to address with your review of our establishment, none of which have to do with your opinion. If you have a negative opinion of our food I support your right to it. More than 1,000 patrons have passed through our doors over the past ten days, many whom we can track as repeat visitors through our Scorecard Rewards Program. Their opinions matter to me as well and they overwhelmingly indicate a positive response. When people come into our store and tell each other how excited they are to be there or that they were referred by their friends or co-workers to us then Hoosier Daddy's is doing a lot more right than wrong. How many food establishments can boast a customer response such as that?
What I take issue with is that you seem to pass yourself off as an expert about the subject of barbeque. Here is where I strongly disagree:
1) As a native of Indiana and someone who spent more than thirty years in the States of Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, I can tell you that there are a great number of ways to make barbeque. In all my travels, the best barbeque ribs and chicken came out of a little smoke shack called QL's. It still sits on the banks of the White River next to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. You drive up to the window, tell them what you want and they bring you back a half chicken or a rack of ribs with some dipping sauce and a plain piece of white bread in a styrofoam container. I've been to places frequented by presidents and none compare to QL's. If you have even been into the midwest and south, you are probably doing the Food Network tourist traps. The locals aren't going to tell you where the good stuff is and you aren't going to be knowing enough to ask. You don't really know that the best barbeque is 500 miles south of Indiana because you have probably never been to these places. You may have seen them on TV for your insights.
2) The type of barbeque pulled meat sandwiches we serve are ubiquitous throughout the midwest, from Indiana and Kentucky to Kansas and Oklahoma. The stuff you seem to think of as barbeque is a Carolina and Tennessee version where the meat is cooked and the sauce added on top. Both are fine but very different. You should know that but you don't mention it, even though you disparage the Hoosier state for not having good barbeque. Tell me, when was the last time you had barbeque in Indiana?
4) How can you even think to compare us to Mean Bao? They have awesome food and when we aren't eating our food we are eating theirs. They eat our food too and enjoy it a lot. However, their pulled pork sandwich is a completely different form than ours. The only thing that those sandwiches have in common is that both meats originate from a pig. It's like comparing stroganoff to spagetti. This statement in itself reveals that you probably don't have any idea what you are doing when it comes to reviewing barbeque. You see sir, many places have "barbeque". There is Chinese barbeque, Korean barbeque, Tandori barbeque, Portuguese barbeque and all of those are using a specific method to roast meat that will not taste at all alike when served. You seem to have lumped these forms together but, where I come from, "barbeque" is a noun.
4) The chili has not a single drop of vinegar in it. It has fresh vegetables and tomatoes and beer and chili powder but no vinegar. The recipe' is one I learned from an Oklahoman who worked the cookoff circuit. Also, chili in that part of the world and throughout the midwest is supposed to be soupy. It shouldn't look like it has the consistency of dog food like the chili that you grew up eating at Canadian fast food restaurants that won't be named. Once again, as an expert you should know that but you don't.
5) It's pretty obvious you don't get us. Of course we are silly and kitschy and, in your words, "juvenile", but that's the point. Are you going to trash Jack Astor's because it has a silly, flashing sign? You came looking for gourmet food and we never paint ourselves to be that. If you want a "gourmet" sandwich then go somewhere that you can pay $17 for one slow cooked three days in a smoker by a five star chef. Hoosier Daddy's BBQ is serving barbeque sandwiches in a fast food format. People can come in a grab a big, sloppy, great tasting sandwich and sides that will both fill them up and fulfill them for under ten dollars. You want to compare us to places that charge three times what we do for half the food? What you should be doing is comparing our food to a Big Mac or Whopper. That is our competition and our market demographic. What did you think "Good-Fast-Cheap" meant?
6)Hoosiers are taught to be honest and we are no exception. Just like every other restaurant, some things we make and some things we don't because it isn't cost effective. We didn't make the potato chips or pop that we offer. I notice that you didn't review them. You mention the creamy cole slaw. Obviously not ours.The beans are ours and are the biggest selling side dish we have, not sure why you think they have to be crunchy, they aren't made that way where I come from. You didn't ask about the vinegar cole slaw that we make (and as a so called expert on barbeque, that should have been the one you asked for), or the potato salad. You didn't even review those items or the fresh brewed ice tea that we sell roughly ten gallons a day of. Why not? If you had asked, "What do you recommend for sides?", we would have told you exactly what is ours and what isn't. I will pass on to the folks at Ziggy's that you gave your expert thumbs up to their macaroni salad.
These, sir, are the issues that I wish to take up with you with respect to your review. As I stated prior, you have as much right to an opinion as anyone else but why are you writing as though you are an expert on the foods of the American midwest? You might be as well served to paint yourself as an expert on the foods of Nigeria. That it is your single opinion is one thing but to represent yourself as such before others is taking a liberty that most persons will not be able to recognize for what it is... smoke.
I do wish to thank you for two things; you spelled the name right and you paid for the food. For that, Daddy thanks ya kindly!
Sincerely,
Kevin B. Hogg
Owner
Hoosier Daddy's Barbeque

PS- Shawn, you were never served a microwaved tenderloin at Cumberland Terrace because in that spot we deep fried them in front of the customers. If you had ever been to CT you would know that. We were at Cumberland Terrace from October of last year to March of this year and left because the building is being torn down. It was a test store to work out service methods and served its purpose. I believe the technical term for your comments is "piling on".
Anders / November 4, 2013 at 03:44 pm
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Hi Kevin,

I'm glad your customers are evidently enjoying your food, which I'm sure is much more important to you than what I think. I'm not going to rebut your post at length - I stand by what I wrote in my review. Briefly though:

I don't really think my knowledge of barbecue is the issue with regards to the quality of the food you serve, nor are my expectations going in to eating at your restaurant. It isn't my intention to to hold myself out to be an expert on barbecue as a whole, and I'll be the first to admit that most of my knowledge about Indiana cuisine is limited to waffles. You do advertise your "American Style" barbecue sandwiches though, and I don't think I'm so far off base in noting that Indiana is probably not the most traditional barbecue locale in the United States. I'm sure I could have phrased a couple of things differently, but my being more familiar with Indiana style barbecue would not have materially affected the overall conclusion of the review.

If you want to compare yourself to McDonalds and Burger King that's fine, and I know millions of people enjoy those restaurants. I don't think you'll find a glowing review of them on blogTO at any point in the immediate future though.

Also, if you're going to serve food from Ziggy's, maybe you don't have the right to complain if customers don't enjoy it. I'm not sure why it should be incumbent on me to know which items on your menu are made in house and which are (literally) store bought. Making your own coleslaw and macaroni salad isn't hard, or especially costly, for what it's worth.

Whatever your intention, the food I was served (on multiple occasions, I could note) was not particularly good, and whether it was my first or four hundredth time eating barbecue wouldn't have changed that.

Anders
It's true though / November 4, 2013 at 06:06 pm
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The food is just mediocre. You cannot taste the difference between the chicken, beef or pork whether blindfolded or otherwise. The mini Kaisers were good. The vinegar slaw was more than decent. The bbq sauce was average. There is just no desire to go back because the meats have no character.

Thanks!
tnt replying to a comment from Kevin B. Hogg / November 4, 2013 at 07:46 pm
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Thanks for the speech Kevin...but I've eaten there twice...and the food really does suck ass..
kuri / November 4, 2013 at 10:50 pm
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I must say, having been to Hoosier Daddy's on many occasions, I really enjoy their sandwiches! Having a palate for different meats, I've been able to tell the difference between how the sweet sauce they make reacts with each meat. Also the baked beans, reminiscent of my childhood as well as the potato salad (which I've seen them working on when I came in once) are pretty kickass considering they are fairly simple and common dishes. I'd also like to commend the fact that they do their own tasty iced tea in a mid west style not including the lemon that Canadians seem to enjoy so much.

All in all, Great price, great taste and always gonna go back when I'm in the area!
Andre D. / November 9, 2013 at 08:50 pm
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Don't listen to these hosers... Hoosier's has some solid fare that's bringing something new to the Grange. The price is right and the food is fast, but its not fast food. These are my honest thoughts on the place.

I'll freely admit, I stay away from the chicken... But the pulled pork and the beef? Awesome stuff. Good luck finding a better protein packed sandwich for that price in downtown. Get it with the pickles and peppers. Adds great tang and heat to the smoky sweetness of the sauce. The soft bread sops up the sauce real nice too.

The iced tea is awesome. Not too sweet, and its definitely homemade. I love it.
The Tenderloin was alright. It wasn't as crispy as I was expecting it. Still a good deal at $6 bucks i feel, but I'll stick to the bbq sandwich.
The chili isn't as thick as I'm used to and I'm not sure how it would be on its own (never had the chili as its own dish). But on the chili a la king? Wow... amazing snack for under five bucks.
Sides? Get the baked beans... The reviewer doesn't know what he's talking about. My mouth is watering right now as I write this for the beans. The potato salad is excellent too and I really enjoy the vineagar coleslaw. Its tangy and sharp.
Finally... the pie was amazing. Try the sugar cream pie. Unique and it reminds me a bit of the sugar pies my grandma made in Quebec (though, I gotta admit I like the quebec version more, someone needs to bring those to Toronto).
Casey / February 4, 2014 at 11:17 am
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Hot goddamn! I grew up in Indiana and one of the things I've missed most is the tenderloin sandwich. The sandwich here was amazing and authentic. I'll have to come back and try the BBQ because I much prefer midwest style BBQ to the southern stuff, which in my opinion has too much vinegar.
valerieinto / April 16, 2014 at 06:40 pm
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I was born and raised in Ohio, and any BBQ snobs are looking in the wrong place. This place is not going to evoke some legendary southern pit a hipster will discover and write about; but it sure as hell does evoke a roadside drive-in in the middle of nowhere where you park in the gravel parking lot, pick up a drippy sweet/spicy sandwich cooked in a crock pot for ages, get an ice cream cone (maybe frozen custard) for dessert, sit on top of a wooden picnic table and watch the traffic go by. Or in my case, Eddie's Grill in the biker tourist trap of Geneva-on-the-Lake (and even they would charge you more for sandwiches that size).

If you want to go to some of the more "authentic" BBQ places dedicated to a specific region and drop $12 on a slider, that's fine. I'm happy to do that as well. But the last time I checked, America was a pretty big country, and "American style" could mean burnt chicken slathered with Open Pit, as far as I'm concerned. These people from Indiana are making some good food at some good prices, and if you don't think any of it tastes good, that doesn't mean you need to be snobby to them because they're not being some "authentic" thing you think they're supposed to be. That's a job for some ugly American. :-)

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