Craft Dogs is serving up homemade, gourmet hotdogs to the Financial District / St. Lawrence Market crowd. Since opening in early June, owner Craig Smith has been looking to woo hot dog fans from the street vendors outside into his warm new spot on King St East.
Gourmet wieners are beginning to show signs of emerging as a bonafide food trend in Toronto. Craft Dogs joins the likes of Fusia Dog , Little Dog Steamies and Fancy Franks all looking to change the reputation of the often forgotten hot dog. Going through roughly 150 kilos of meat per week in their opening weeks, it seems many are getting on the bandwagon (myself included).
With top-quality in mind, Craft Dogs makes their wieners nitrate, hormone and steroid-free. They buy from local vendors and grind, smoke and stuff the dogs themselves, all in-house. Their premium meats are worthy of the shout-outs they give to the farms and producers they purchase from. With 12 different options to choose from, you can stick with the classics or try a more innovative dog made with arctic char, chicken, duck and all different flavours infused.
First up for us was the Spicy Thai Dog ($7.95, lead photo). Inside the casing is a green curry chicken dog. The mild spice paired nicely with the sweet mango salsa all on top of the fresh bun. While looking and feeling like a hot dog, the taste of this creation was not what we expected. The mild flavour of the chicken was a solid match for the stronger curry flavours.
Next to the table came the Pork Belly BLT ($9.95). This 8-inch dog was barely contained in the bun — we were warned of some inconsistent sizing range as they get used to the homemade process. The wiener had a long strip of bacon hiding beneath the dog and was topped with tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo . With premium ingredients the dog was impressive on paper, but didn't taste a whole lot different than your average pork dog.
Last up was the Kobe Carney ($9.95), said to be the most popular dog to date. This is an all-beef frank in a lamb casing. Topped generously with a mild beef chili, onions and mustard, this is one messy dog. With no-nonsense ingredients or extra frills, it was an authentic take on the summer-fair classic.
Craft dogs is also a destination for beverages, including homemade fountain drinks and a decent selection of craft beers including King Pilsner, Black Oak Nut Brown and Durham Co's hop addict on tap — all of which make washing down your dogs quite pleasant.
These dogs are definite step above their curbside cousins. If you're able to get past the mental block of paying upwards of $10 for a hot dog, then Craft Dogs is certainly worth a look. I expect to get back there soon to try out some of the more interesting options.
Craft Dogs is licensed and seats around 30. Open M-W 11:30am-10pm, Th-Sat 11:30-12:00am
Photos by Marni Wolf