But, I found myself in Toledo last week and looked up some information on a local restaurant to try. Tony Packos seemed a likely candidate from its longevity, lore and common appeal.
I was downtown Toledo, right on the Maumee River. Toledo has a brief little river walk, and it made me wish again that Indianapolis had more of their buildings along the White River. Anyhow, I used the GPS to find the closest location (of 5) on my way out of town. Turns out I appear to have landed at the "original" location, on Consaul Street.
The menu definitely has more than hot dogs, but the hot dogs and chili sauce seem like the rite of passage for a newbie. I ordered one of the specials - which was a chili dog and a chili mac. I was intrigued by the chicken paprikas, and tried to get a sense of that dish by also ordering a side of the paprikas dumplings with gravy.
The hot dog had a casing with a nice "snap", good flavor and I really liked the chili sauce and the onions. The chili mac was tasty, but.... I prefer a chili mac over spaghetti noodles, yet Tony Packos serves them over their dumplings. Now, this is a major change over when we first moved to Indiana from Denver when I was 13. Some of our family introduced us to chili over spaghetti, and I just wondered what was wrong with these people. But, over time, I've come to appreciate the local variation, whether from Steak-n-Shake or Skyline Chili. Now, a funny thing I noticed is that many places that serve a chili mac usually give you that little bowl of oyster crackers. And, I did toss some of those over the chili mac pile, which is basically dressing up carbs with carbs. But, the crunch was a nice texture addition.
The paprikas and dumplings was a further investigation of simple carbs, and not really all that flavorful. I have never cared for dishes like chicken and dumplings, and that is what this is. Minus the chicken. It was worth a taste, but not a return, and it made me feel like I'd have been wanting more "zing" from the dish if I had ordered the chicken paprikas.
Tony Packos is from Hungarian roots, and the menu has a section entitled Cabbage Creations, which just appeals to me out of sheer novelty.
Another thing that Tony Packos does that is fun and unique is they have celebrities, both local and those passing through, do bun signing. So, all around the restaurant they have these special cases with autographed hot dog buns. Some gimmicks like that seem cheesy, this one seems appropriate.
The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5) - a good hot dog, good value, great historic charm.