If you have never been to the original Tony Packo’s in east Toledo at the corner of Front and Consaul Streets, shame on you! The walls are adorned with encased hot dog buns signed by hundreds of celebrities. Surely, then, those of us living right here in T-Town can pay a visit to Packo’s. Trust me – your taste buds will thank you.
Hungarian restaurant has
quite a history
Tony Packo was the son of Hungarian immigrants. With his wife Rose he opened the original restaurant in 1932. Other locations have since opened in the Toledo area including Packo’s At The Park near 5/3 Field.
Back then, it seemed fitting that Mr. Packo, who was Hungarian and residing in the Hungarian part of town, name his culinary creation a Hungarian hot dog. However, in the old country, a hot dog like Packo’s was not traditional fare. I am guessing many people never knew that funny little fact. Other menu items, though, are most certainly of authentic Hungarian origin.
In 1972 Burt Reynolds became the first celebrity to sign the now famous buns. And so began the tradition of special guests signing a bun to be encased and adorn the walls. The most recent celebs to visit, according to manager Mike Robinette were Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the members of REO Speedwagon this past summer. However, it was Jamie Farr, a Toledo native, who really put Packo’s on the map with his character Klinger in the show M*A*S*H. Klinger, a Toledo native, spoke of his favorite Tony Packo hot dogs in several episodes, including the final show in 1983.
“Unique” is Packo’s middle name
The uniqueness of Packo’s starts with its wedge shaped building on the corner. When you enter, there are Tiffany lamps hanging throughout the restaurant and the tables are covered with traditional red and white checked tablecloths. Every employee I encountered that evening was upbeat and friendly. It had been years since I had stopped in, but the familiar feel remained. In a world of constant change, it was nice to step back into the restaurant and know the atmosphere, food, and service were just as I remembered. I’m also certain the prices hadn’t changed much either. Bonus!
The menu isn’t huge, but they have perfected what they make and it tasted exactly as I remember from years ago. They offer their chili, Hungarian hot dogs (with and without their famous chili sauce), chicken paprikas, stuffed cabbage, specials of the month and an array of comfort food sides such as hot potato salad, mac n cheese, green bean casserole and the like.
They also offer a kids menu that has a choice of five entrees, six sides, and a drink for about $4.99. Roast beef, yogurt, and pudding were a couple items I don’t usually see on kid menus. My friend’s kids were happy with the hot dog and corn dog sans Packo’s sauce. My three were all about the chili and hot dogs, but the adults at the table went for the special entrees.
We began with an appetizer that had something fried for everyone, but I loved the fried pickles (Packo pickles of course) and their special Packo ketchup. Oh that was a tasty treat. One of us enjoyed the meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a monthly special, and two of us enjoyed the paprikas and stuffed cabbage. And YES, I DID take a taste of everything on the table that evening! How could I not?
The traditional favorites of bread pudding, apple dumplings and strudel sounded wonderful, but we were fat-n-happy and taking doggie bags home. At the conclusion of our meal we enjoyed a trip through the Tony Packo’s gift shop where you can find anything pickles and peppers and hot dog and chili related. We enjoyed checking out a few of the signed buns covering the walls as well. Maybe after they read this article they’ll ask ME to sign a bun for them! One can always dream.
I would recommend everyone stop in Tony Packo’s at least once, but I’m sure after your first visit, you’ll find a reason to make a repeat trip to east Toledo. If hot dogs and chili are not your favorite things, you will find other selections to please your palate I assure you. The atmosphere is fun and the kids will be intrigued
1902 Front St. | 419-691-6054