Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mr. P's

Our next visit was to Mr. P's Deli in Bluff Park. Of course Mr P's isn't a hot dog stand but they do have a reputation for serving great hot dogs. That was enough for me, so when my brother suggested that we hit Mr. P's this week I was ready to go.

This place is another unique establishment. We hung around long enough to talk to the proprietor, Mr. P. (Pilleteri) and learned a little history. He grew up in a family that ran a neighborhood grocery store just west of downtown Birmingham. He graduated from college and decided to open his own neighborhood grocery store during the decade when most of these places were closing. His chosen area to serve was the somewhat remote Bluff Park area south of Birmingham. As time progressed he realized that he needed to change to survive. He first added roast beef sandwiches to meet the requests for something ready to eat. Through the years as freezers died he replaced them with more area for patrons to eat. He also refined his inventory to serve his customers by adding specialty meats, a variety of wines and more deli items.

The result is a place that has the feel of an old neighborhood grocery store that grew with the times. There is definitely the sense of being in a neighborhood establishment. This is something that the chain restaurants would love to duplicate... but never will.

Hot dogs were why we were there so as hard as it was when we looked at the menu we restricted our orders to the realm of hot dogs. We had both heard of Mr. P's for years but had never been there; and the menu has many tempting offerings. We each ordered a hot dog "all the way" and a chili dog (mine was a chili cheese dog). We added to that a bag of Zapps potato chips and a drink. The brother discovered Zapps "Spicy Creole Tomato Spiked with Tabasco" flavor chips and ended up eating two bags (minus a few that I had).

We learned that the hot dogs are from a commercial restaurant supply company. They are made of beef & pork and are labeled as "8 per pound" as opposed to the usual "10 per pound". I guess these would be called "jumbo" at many places. They are firm and tasty and fresh cooked in a microwave oven when ordered. The chili on the chili dogs is the same chili that can be ordered by the bowl, fresh made with their ground sirloin. The onions are thin sliced almost having the appearance of kraut. The buns seem to be freshly steamed. All this makes a very good hot dog. We were not sorry that we had limited ourselves to hot dogs.

I want to photograph our hot dogs on these visits but keep forgetting. This time I did remember before everything was all consumed. The above is a hot dog after just one bite has been removed.

Time for some subjective comments. I hate to offer any criticism to a dining experience that was as good as this was, but I must say our table was dirty, very dirty, and we had to clean it ourselves. Mr. P's is known not only for their meats and deli but also for their spices and seasonings sold in local grocery stores. My personal preference for the chili would be to have it a little more spicy. I found myself trying different additions; first salt, then other seasoning from the table. I did like the big firm hot dogs. They are the perfect size, a little smaller than Mikes "Chicago Hot Dogs" but quite hearty. They will even gladly package these for sale from the meat counter.

After this first visit to Mr. P's I hope to return again. The location is not particularly convenient for me; but I think it is worth the trip.

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