Mama’s Best #1
St. George and Willcocks
Judging from the name, you know this place has history. Decades ago, Mama was a real lady peddling her collagen-encased wares on the Toronto sidewalks. Today, the stand lies a stone’s throw from Sid Smith and still serves up a hot dog with an old-time feel. The veggie dog is very soft, but not overbearingly so. Though the first few bites aren’t too salty, the dog suffers from the dreaded sodium aftertaste. Luckily, the condiments are the freshest we’ve seen all day. They do well to mask the flavour.
Andy’s Favourite Station
St. George and College
Nestled beside the U of T bookstore, Andy’s appeals to the starving textbook buyer. And betcha didn’t know the guy at the stand is actually named Andy. The stand features a new Swiss Bratwurst, a summer addition to the usual menu. But of course, we decide to keep it real with the all-beef wiener. The dog has a perfect consistency and is riddled with a subtle metallic musk. The aftertaste is smooth and disarming. The ketchup, however, lacks the tomato tang one would expect from the ubiquitous condiment.
24-hour Hot Dog Stand
In front of Sid Smith and Morrison Hall
We might call it ‘junk food,’ but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have standards. The condiments are old and soggy, and the wiener is undercooked. If you’ve ever stolen day-old leftovers from an office fridge, then you’ll know what to expect. Although this stand holds a steady place in the campus hot dog pantheon (mostly because it’s open 24 hours a day), you shouldn’t be fooled: this dog tastes like a wet sock. Though honestly, if you’re drunk on campus at 4 a.m., you probably don’t care. Altogether unimpressive.
St. George and Harbord
There’s no other way to say this. Their veggie dog isn’t very good. Like foreplay that never progresses, it leaves you feeling violated and unsatisfied. And the bun isn’t even toasted! Essentially, the vegetarian’s dilemma is simple: are hot dogs even worth imitating in animal-friendly form?
St. George Station Stand
St. George and Bloor
Convenience doesn’t come cheap at this stand next to St. George subway station. The $3.00 dogs, paired with 24-hour access, are exactly what a wiener should be. The all-beef dog tastes more hot-doggy than our previous candidates. With a lightly toasted bun and overall pleasing consistency, these three bucks get you a good deal of bang. The condiments are decent, but nothing to write home about. Not that you would ever write about hot dogs.
and the winner is…
Coach House Press
Hidden away behind Innis College, on bpNichol Lane
★★★★★ and two thumbs up
After a taxing bout of research, we’ve found the winner to this campus hot dog contest, and it’s actually none of the stands we set out to review. First place goes to Coach House Press and the mad grilling skills of its staff, who held their yearly autumn barbecue just outside the printing house. Seared on the outside with a plump interior, this free dog was our surprise winner. Conspicuously absent is the signature slicing technique used by other hot dog stands; we’d later learn from a connoisseur that this is the real secret to a good dog. But perhaps Coach House had another ace up its sleeve, a secret ingredient missing from all other contenders: love.
What kind of hot dog eater are you?
For the intellectual
You understand the complexity of the wiener. You basically don’t even need the bun, but you eat it to please others.
For the child at heart
Your childhood insecurities mean you never really got over that Aaron Carter song, “I Want Candy.” And yes, you still listen to Aaron Carter. Don’t worry, we won’t say a word.
For the incensed
Apparently, some like it hot, and you are one of those people. Your fiery temper is mirrored in your eating practices, which border on the unsafe.
For the glutton
Nothing can satisfy the black hole that is your stomach. So for two to three bucks, you’ll take everything you can get — the more sodium and preservatives, the better.