The Original Tony Packo’s Cafe
Like a good little beer drinker, I knew that I had to take advantage of being in Ohio. Sure, it’s not the greatest beer there is, but there is still something about Yuengling. I’m sure most of that has to do with not actually being able to get Yuengling in Michigan…or Indiana….or Illinois….it’s kind of like my dad’s Coors Light.
J and L went to bed pretty early after we got done swimming at our hotel. They were both pretty exhausted from a day at the zoo. I wasn’t really tired yet and I wanted to get some beer anyway, so I went and got the car while they went to sleep and did a little exploring on my own.
My first stop was to get beer. I did a search for the best craft beer stores in Toledo and it brought me to a Meijer-esque supermarket called The Andersons. Turns out, they had a great beer section. I was able to get all the Yuengling I wanted plus a bunch of Ohio craft beer that I can’t get here in the Mitten State.
As I was checking out, I noticed a Tony Packo’s Express in the supermarket. I had heard of Tony Packo’s and it was even highly recommended to me by a Toledo native co-worker, but I’m just not a hot dog guy….and if I was going to do it, I was going to do the original.
Soooooo…..I headed to the original. Seriously. Tony Packo’s is synonymous with Toledo. The Hungarian joint has been around since the 1930’s. The famous wedge-shaped building was purchased in 1935 and that’s where I headed to find this authentic taste of Toledo.
The Original Tony Packo’s is on the corner of Front and Consaul Streeets on the south side of the Maumee River not too far off I-280. It was dark and I really didn’t know where I was going so I let Google Maps direct me across the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway away from my hotel downtown.
Not being familiar with the area, I didn’t really know where to park. It was a little after 8:00 on a Saturday night. The restaurant wasn’t very busy and there is a small lot behind the building that I parked in. It didn’t say I couldn’t so I did. I noticed another parking lot across Counsal street with much more space than the little one I parked in.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the door. Part of me was hoping it would just be a counter service take out place because I really didn’t feel like sitting down to eat by myself, but it was not that. It was a full service restaurant…but they also had a bar. Perfect for the solo diner.
I grabbed a seat at said bar and the bartender asked if I needed a menu. I said yes and ordered a Yuengling Lager to drink while I was waiting for my meal.
I had just eaten dinner a few hours prior at Ye Olde Durty Bird so I really wasn’t looking for a full on meal, but I had to try Tony Packo’s before I left town. I put in a simple order of one Tony Packo’s Original Hot Dog without onions and with cheese plus an order of fries.
It only took about five minutes for the plate of food to come out. The hot dog looked like any other coney dog that you can get pretty easily in Michigan, but one bite and I knew it was different.
I mentioned it earlier, but I’m not a hot dog guy. I keep trying them as coney dogs because it’s just part of the fabric of the culinary scene in this part of the world and I want to know what they taste like. That said, this didn’t taste like a hot dog because it’s not a hot dog in the way we normally think of hot dogs. The “hot dog” is actually a Hungarian sausage called a Kolbasz that is somewhat like a Kielbasa. Instead of a whole sausage on the bun, it’s sliced in half then covered with a spicy chili sauce and topped with onions (I left off). The shredded cheese was served on the side in a paper cup.
I amazed at how much I liked this sandwich. The sausage had a really good snap to it when bitten and the chili was delicious. It reminded me a lot of Skyline Chili in the way that I could just eat as a meal instead of using it as a condiment as it is intended.
The fries were pretty simple restaurant style fries. I grabbed a bottle of mustard to dip them in and also used them to pick up any of the chili sauce that I left on my plate.
The cost of my meal was right around ten bucks. As I said earlier, when food people think of Toledo, they think of Tony Packo’s and there’s a good reason for that. As a non-hot dog lover, I loved Tony Packo’s take on the sandwich.