This past week we went to Chris Z's on southside. The location is on University Blvd (aka 8th Avenue South) in the Lakeview District. I seem to remember that once upon a time this was a Sneaky Pete's; but I think that was prior to Chris buying it. The first impression was the large number of trucks in the parking lot; this is a good sign. The next thing I noticed, after the last stop, was Coca-Cola and Golden Flake chips, another good sign.
We ordered and sat down to wait for our order. The walls at Chris Z's are covered completely with various pictures and posters with a large portion based on college sports. This close to the UAB campus, UAB has equal coverage with Alabama and Auburn.
When we picked up our orders we found the hot dogs and chili dogs to be good. Oddly this was the first time on the hot dog tour that my brother and I were adding salt to our hot dogs. This wasn't a big need but did enhance the flavor a little. The chili was good and did indeed taste like chili; and both dogs were served hot in a good bun. We asked Chris about the bun and were told that he steams them but is careful to not over do it thus keeping them from getting too moist. The entire experience demonstrated the attention and care of an owner who takes pride in his product.
Now the interesting part. Before leaving we stopped to talk with Chris a few minutes. When we told him we were in the process of visiting every hot dog place in Birmingham his face lit up. He said enthusiastically; "I wish I could go with you." This guy loves the food industry and especially hot dogs. We came to discover he worked for years at Sam's in Homewood before getting a place of his own. He is also the owner of Jimmy's which he bought when Jimmy Graphos retired. He told us he had started working in the food industry at age 14. He eventually worked for six years as a CPA but returned to the food industry where his heart is. This guy loves what he is doing!
One last thought; he has a dream of seeing a hot dog festival in Birmingham. He can envision having all the hot doggers getting together in one location, each serving his own style of hot dogs. This would presumably be accompanied by entertainment of some sort. I must admit this sounds good; I would go.