I happened to be in the Alberta Avenue area on Thursday for work, and having read Liane’s article about The Dawg Father (8654 118 Avenue), chose that as my lunch destination that day.
Knowing that the joint specialized in hot dogs, I was expecting The Dawg Father to be somewhat similar to Tubby Dog, which serves up unusual condiments on a carnival favourite. In actuality, The Dawg Father reveres traditional toppings like onions, sauerkraut, cheese and relish. When I asked the proprietor Tom Stefura if he would ever experiment with things like wasabi and peanut butter, he said it wasn’t his intention to waver from classic, All-American flavours (partial menu here).
The interior of the restaurant reminded me of a cleaner, modified Chicago Deep Dish – meant not for lingering, but to quickly satisfy one’s hunger. There are three new, glass-topped tables to provide those who need a place to stay, but it seems The Dawg Father also does a mean take-out business.
Tom greeted me as soon as I walked in the door. I asked for his recommendation, and after finding out that I wasn’t a fan of spicy foods, he said that the Baltimore Dog ($7.50) would be my best bet – topped with fried onions, cheese, and bacon. All dogs are served with coleslaw, ‘Ruby fries’ and a pickle. He asked if a ten minute wait would be all right, as all meals are made fresh. I had time, but I had to wonder – if several large groups came in all at the same time, the restaurant may not be able to accommodate everyone in a timely fashion.
I wasn’t keeping track, but I’m pretty sure my order took less than ten minutes to reach my table. I’ve never really considered a hot dog as anything beyond a snack, but The Dawg Father made me reconsider this, as my plate was definitely a meal in itself. The dog was drenched with a generous topping of sauteed onions, crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese and (unfortunately) mustard. Thankfully, the onions and cheese managed to negate the sharpness of my least favourite condiment, and I appreciated the heartiness of the all-beef wiener. The bread was fresh (they use buns from Handy Bakery just a few doors down), which is always a nice touch. The fries were a cut above, and made the overall price of the hot dog easier to reconcile. The potatoes had been freshly prepared with an aromatic mixture of garlic, parsley and salt – I was beyond full by the end, but I couldn’t imagine turning in a half-eaten plate that had obviously been lovingly prepared.
Baltimore Dog with coleslaw and Ruby fries
Before I left, I asked Tom why he had chosen 118th Avenue to open his restaurant, and whether or not the reputation of the area had deterred him at all. He replied that the media helped perpetuate the negative image of Alberta Avenue, and “if people think this is bad, try living in Newark, New Jersey.”
The Dawg Father
8654 118 Avenue
Tuesday-Saturday 11am-7pm, closed Sunday & Monday