Hot Dip is a sandwich shop serving sandwiches that each feature a different delicious dip, including a roast beef with cheddar dip and a chicken parm with creamy alfredo on the side.
Customers await their order on an outdoor bench next to the large front windows while their sandwich is assembled at the counter in the tiny store on Queen West.
Something about it, maybe the vintage meat slicer on display, the modest size, the friendly, laid-back staff, or a mix of all of these things, makes the spot feel a bit like an old-style deli.
Jon Lucas, previous owner of J&J Bar-B-Que and chef de cuisine at Harbord Room, got the idea for Hot Dip around his favourite sandwich of all time: the classic French dip. It's brought to life with help from Jules Thuet, who Lucas worked with in fine dining back at the Harbord Room.
The sourdough baguettes and pretzel rolls the sandwiches come on are all handmade over at Petite Thuet's wholesale facility in Leslieville.
Before getting loaded with meat and other toppings, the bread, fresh baguette in the case of the French dip ($10), is put over a roller to cover it in butter and beef fat in preparation for it being toasted.
The beef, which is carefully roasted and sliced in-house, gets dunked in the beef broth au jus, which in French culinary terms translates to "with juice," for both the French dip and the Hot Dip sandwiches.
Eight ounces of tender roast beef, as well as hot horseradish, pile on the warm baguette.
The French dip, ironically enough a popular American hot sandwich, has long been Lucas' go-to due to its unreal juiciness thanks to the au jus. It's that controllability over juiciness that Lucas affords every sandwich that comes out of his shop with a dip on its side.
Although every sandwich here is a different take on the French dip, the one that will come most recommended to customers is the namesake of the place. The Hot Dip ($12) comes with a creamy cup of hot cheese for dipping.
Roast beef, horseradish mayo and crispy onions are placed between a warm pretzel bun for this one.
The third sandwich on the menu of four is the chicken parm dip ($12). A toasted baguette gets the same treatment with butter and beef fat and takes four breaded chicken fingers, the reputable San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella and spicy peppers.
As if the tomato sauce isn't enough, an alfredo dip will come on the side. This combo is perfect for those who often find themselves choosing between chicken alfredo and parmesan.
The mushRueben dip ($11.50) provides a vegetarian option. It's basically a Rueben sandwich sans the corned beef. A big pastrami spiced portabello mushroom comes between two slices of toasted rye with caraway sauerkraut, a bit of swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, a dip consisting of ketchup and mayo.
A few sides include marinated olives ($3), kale caesar ($6), and Kosher pickles ($1.50), made with brine and garlic. There's also the cheese-covered taters ($7).
The loaded tater tots, which are a meal in their own right, also get sour cream, green onions, bacon bits and crispy onions.
In terms of refreshments, there are a few non-alcoholic options, as well as pilsners from Ace Hill by the can.