Introducing: The Hot ’n Dog, Parkdale’s coolest new lunch spot for the under-18 set

Introducing: The Hot ’n Dog, Parkdale’s coolest new lunch spot for the under-18 set

The Hot ’n Dog’s effervescent owner, George Karpouzis (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

As hungry customers file into The Hot ’n Dog around noon, owner George Karpouzis greets regulars by name, inquiring after their day and reminding them, gently, to keep up with their homework. With four schools within walking distance, this tiny new Parkdale eatery is the new go-to place for kids to looking grab a quick lunch. We decided to see what the fuss was about.

Bopping around to the radio as he puts together dogs, Karpouzis tells us, “I’m the first to admit that I have zero culinary experience—but I do know my hot dogs!” Although he runs Stouffville’s The Coolest Little Ice Cream Shop in the summer, the energetic Karpouzis confesses that he couldn’t face enduring another winter spent in the basement (nor could his wife). Originally on the hunt for a spot to house (and hawk) his half-million comic books, the former Queen Street kid discovered this sliver of a space and, switching gears, opened up a hot doggery.

Opting to steam them rather than grill, the dog selection is limited: customers can select either the carnivore version (a mix of pork and beef) or the veggie dog (from Yves Veggie Cuisine). The big draw, as befitting a kid-friendly establishment, is the endless list of toppings: currently numbering 55, the roster includes regulars like ketchups and green olives and more exotic fare, like tzatziki, zucchini relish and maple syrup (yes, maple syrup).

Karpouzis notes that the best-seller is the El Nacho, which stars salsa and Hickory Sticks (did we mention the kids?). The Hawaiian dog, featuring pizza sauce, pineapple and bacon bits, is a close runner-up. A popular pick amongst the ladies—young and old—is pickles and mayo; on our visit, a young gent opted for a dog with garlic aïoli and, at Karpouzis’s suggestion, some pineapple. The maximalist can rest assured: no matter the number of sauces and toppings added, each dog costs $3.99 and arrives with a bag of chips and a drink.

The Hot ’n Dog, 216 Close Ave., 647-955-0233