The Original Tony Packo’s Cafe

This Toledo, Ohio, landmark has a long history, great eats and a fun tradition that has led both celebrities and politicians to pay a visit. 

The original Tony Packo’s Cafe has been feeding locals since 1932, but travelers have long sought it out as well. They do so not only for the tasty lineup of fried pickles, hot dogs and chicken paprikash, but also because visiting has become a Toledo rite of passage. 

Celebrities and politicians have been stopping in for years, as evidenced by the rows of autographed hot dog buns (foam replicas, actually, for the sake of preservation) that line the walls. It all started when Burt Reynolds visited in the 1970s and signed a real hot dog bun. The tradition stuck. Today, the display of autographed buns winds through the dining space in a collection that ranges from former presidents to famous musicians to acclaimed film actors. 

The restaurant’s most beneficial celebrity connection came in the form of Toledo native Jamie Farr mentioning Tony Packo’s in several episodes of the hit television show “M*A*S*H” during the series’ run, bringing the spot notoriety far beyond northwest Ohio. 

But don’t let the pop-culture connections distract you from the real reason you’re here — to sample from the lineup of tasty eats. The Hungarian hot dog is a must for a first-time visitor, as is a side of fried pickles, but we wouldn’t blame you if you veered off course to order chili or chicken paprikash. 

So, what is a Hungarian hot dog anyway? It’s a Tony Packo’s invention that features a split sausage served in a hot dog bun and covered with the restaurant’s signature meat sauce, mustard and onions. (Add shredded cheddar cheese on top for a small additional fee.)

Lunch patrons order at the counter, while the restaurant transitions to table service each evening. No matter what time of day you go, just be sure to bring your appetite. 1902 Front St., Toledo, Ohio 43605, 419/691-6054, tonypacko.com 

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