Friday, August 27, 2010

Dogs As Well As Burgers At BoHo

This week we went to a new place, BoHo Burgers in Cahaba Heights. I had noticed this tiny little burger joint opening recently and was intrigued; so I stopped in last Saturday to look it over and pick up a menu. The menu included several different varieties of burgers as well as a "BoHo Bark", their hot dog. That led to giving this place a try. After we had ordered and were waiting for our order, I started taking a few pictures. This led to a discussion about why I wanted pictures and about the blog. The guys there admitted very quickly that BoHo is basically a burger place; but they have little to apologize about regarding the hot dogs.
There were three of us for lunch so we kept an eye out hoping the three stools in the "dining room" would be empty by the time our food was ready. We were thankful that the three guys eating there finished and left just before we were served, so we got the only three seats in the house.

We each ordered a hot dog and fries, then Keith ordered a hamburger which we split. Here's the biggest complaint about BoHo; the hot dogs at 3.50 each seem a little over priced. We had noticed the price and thought they surely would be jumbo hot dogs. They ended up being standard sized hot dogs; but the preparation to order is done carefully executed. The chef, Joseph Johnson, didn't just slap them together, but took time to present a perfect product. The hot dogs were split down the center and well grilled on both sides. We had each ordered bacon and cheese which was added before the grilling was completed. Then the dogs were placed on grilled/toasted buns and topped with "Texas caviar" and slaw for one of us. They were served hot and fresh off the grill. I added a little mustard to top mine off.
This is an unusual hot dog. They lack a couple of basic hot dog condiments (kraut and chili) but make up for it with the large variety of hamburger toppings they can add to a hot dog. We discovered they have a special sauce which they put on their burgers. It is a unique sauce somewhat like a roumilad sauce with a southwest flair. This sauce which comes on their signature burger should be a standard topping for their hot dogs. One last complaint must raise it's ugly head here; the fries were way too salty. All three of us agreed on that. Otherwise this was a good filling and enjoyable lunch, one we might go back for again.

Post Script (July 2011):
I have noticed that Boho was damaged in the storms of April, 2011 and has never reopened. The space is empty and the signs have been removed. It looks like this was a good excuse to not reopen a business that wasn't doing real well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nathan's?... In Birmingham? - Wall Street Deli

Who would think that one can buy a Nathan's hot dog in downtown Birmingham. Nathan's is the legendary hot dog that started many years ago at Coney Island. To read what New Yorker's think about these hot dogs one would think that they are sent from on high.

So this week we went for hot dogs two days in a row. The second day we ended up at the Wall Street Deli in the food court at the Harbert Center where they prominently advertise Nathan's Hot Dogs.

Here we were at the Wall Street Deli for a late lunch. We like to get there late because we miss the noon crowd and sometime get to talk with the entrepreneur. We started ordering our hot dogs and quickly realized that these hot dogs would be called "jumbo" at most places so we modified our order to be a total of three dogs rather than two each. We ended up splitting a traditional hot dog, then each getting a chili dog. Mine was a chili cheese dog!

When they prepare these hot dogs they pull the wiener from a container labeled "caution hot"; then place it in a peculiar little grill where it is grilled a short time (I suspect not long enough. I also wonder if the label on the other container is necessary). They then take great pains to put on the toppings desired by the customer.

Robert and I agreed on our assessment of this meal. The hot dogs are good, but not exceptional. They taste like what would be called a "Polish Sausage" at most places. The unique recipe didn't taste very unique to us. We also agreed that we don't particularly care for hot dogs that overflow so badly that they must be eaten with a knife and fork. Finally, we agreed that we like our hot dogs served hot rather than warm. While the taste was good the experience was not one that made either of us yearn for a repeat performance. The chili was good but the dogs were nothing special in the end. Not to be avoided, but not worth going too far out of your way for. Here's a thought, we were asked if they were for take-out or for there; I wouldn't want to unwrap one of these overloaded hot dogs later. It would really be a mess.

We had a great time; we ate in a beautiful food court on the balcony under the sky light (not the "Mid Town Food Court" below) ; but we went away a little disappointed; somehow the experience didn't live up to the legand. I would still take the opportunity to buy a Nathan's hot dog if in New York city, but my expectations would be a little lower after this experience.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scott's Koneys

The next stop on the hot dog tour was Scott's Koneys on Southside. Scott's is located in the food-court on the ground level of the parking deck just behind the building previously occupied by Liberty National.

WOW what a place!! The dining area is huge, They can seat a cast of hundreds. But how is the food? Robert and I each ordered our usual introductory order of a hot dog and a chili dog; we found ourselves quite satisfied with the offering.

One of our usual issues is the quality of the chili. Well, Scott's takes great pride in their chilli, appropriately so. The chili dog is wonderful. We actually had the pleasure of having Scott himself join us at our table for lunch. This was a great experience for us both. I must give credit to Robert for making this happen. He is much more gifted in people skills than I am.

Scott shared with us how he had first opened a hot dog stand a couple of blocks from this location in 1977. He also started Marilyn's over close to the Alabama Power building and later sold it to Marilyn. Scott is admittedly not doing well after Liberty National has abandoned their building on 20th street. He is very thankful for some corporate customers who continue to cater functions where they require THOUSANDS of hot dogs at a time. Scott is hopeful that the Liberty National building will be otherwise occupied or even demolished to rebuild. Think about it... construction guys eating lunch at Scott's.

Scott has been in business on the Southside of Birmingham since 1977. He has a great product and enjoys the business. I really hope he can survive in this less than desirable location.... not just survive, but THRIVE as he sees his immediate area transformed.

About the food; It is good, the chili on the chili dog is real chili.In fact their chili is a great point of pride for them. They offer a chili salad as well as bowls of chili which are great sellers during cooler weather. It's not hard to determine that Scott likes his business and hopes to be in it for years to come.
Look, He has our local chip as well as a well filled dog!
Bottom line: give Scott's a try, You won't be disappointed.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trying A Chicago Style Hot Dog At Tony's

How does one eat a Chicago hot dog? The answer at Tony's is; with a fork and knife.

Last Friday Robert and I wanted to continue the hot dog tour. We settled on Tony's since it is close to both of our offices and we wanted to spend a little less time than we have on some of the trips. Also this was the one previous place I reported on when he didn't go with me. See Tony's

On this visit I decided to order a "Chicago Style Hot Dog". I have seen some information about these recently and decided I needed to have one sometime just for the experience. This hot dog is like nothing I've ever had before. They typically come with the following toppings:
  • Bright Green Sweet Pickle Relish
  • Mustard
  • Onion
  • Fresh Tomato (But no ketchup)
  • Fresh Cucumber
  • A Large Dill Pickle Spear
  • Celery Salt
  • A Hot Pepper
  • Fancy Bun
Here's a link to a site that can read more on the subject. Tony's Chicago dog is a jumbo and comes with most of the ingredients listed above. It comes loaded into a standard hot dog bun making it overloaded. I suppose the fancy buns used in Chicago can hold it all but the Hoover Alabama version didn't begin to hold it.

After eating it I must admit that it is pretty good, but definitely different from any hot dog I have ever had before. I think I like Southern hot dogs better. Tony's does offer a "Junk Yard Dog" that is a little more to my liking. It comes with slaw, kraut, special meat sauce, onions, cheese, and probably some other ingredients a little closer to what we are accustomed to. It also must be eaten with a fork and a knife.
Robert ordered our usual order of a hot dog, a chili dog, chips (Golden Flake) and a drink. He pronounced their hot dogs to be as good as any we have had so far. He didn't comment on the chili dog but I remember it also as being good when I had one before.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Report from NYC

A friend who has taken a real interest in our hot dog tour is Keith, who has accompanied Robert and I on several visits. I have encouraged him to make a contribution for the blog sometime, but with little success. He told us a couple of weeks ago about a short business trip he would be taking to New York City. He talked about wanting to try hot dogs at Nathans, from a street vendor, and visiting Coney Island as well. Of course we dream of more than we can do on short trips; but he did email us a report which follows. Maybe he will elaborate on this when he returns.

"Spent the last few days in NYC - ate hot dogs from Central Park Street vendor, Grays Papaya (local favorite, recommended by tour bus host who grew up in Harlem/Bronx, and the taxi driver), and from Fat Annies Truck Stop (FATS). Attached is a picture of the one from FATS. Did not make it to a Nathans place, although they sold them and Papa Johns Pizza in the local Subway (brand name, not the train you can ride) restaurants - I decided to hold off till I can make it back to Coney Island sometime in the future. Maybe I can do a writeup from the NYC dogs."
"I'm in Chicago now, but leaning towards pizza instead of dogs."

"None of the ones I have tasted here are as good as Sam's, Jimmy's, Lyric or Sol's."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Returning to Lyric

The last couple of weeks we haven't made it to any new stops on the Birmingham hot dog tour. Even so, there has still been some activity to write about. A little over a week ago we had two daughters and families with us for several days. They have been following the tour and expressed a desire to visit one of the hot dog places. I knew right away where we would go. Of the places we have visited so far there have been several that I would consider very good; but my favorite so far has been Lyric. The food is good and is complimented by a pleasing clean up-to-date decor as well as being in the heart of downtown.

Six of us set off, two daughters, one son-in-law, two grand sons and I went for a downtown hot dog adventure (in 100 degree weather)! The two boys are the same two who ate hot dogs with me at the Varsity just a couple of months ago; but since then the 4 year old announced that he doesn't like hot dogs. We all had various kinds of hot dogs with the exception of one who had a cheese burger.

I took the occasion of this return visit to try some other items on the menu. When Robert and I had been there a few weeks ago Keith had gone with us. He has always liked "special dogs" and had commented on the unexpected flavors he had found in his special dog, something he liked. This time I decided to give the special dog a try along with a favorite I seldom order... a corn dog! I must say I enjoyed them both more than I can say. There is nothing quite like a corn dog fresh from the fryer with lots of mustard and ketchup. I also found the special dog to be the best one I have ever eaten. I am not usually a fan of these but have found one I really like.

It was interesting to see my son-in-law eat his FIRST ever chili dog. He ordered the jumbo dog which along with fries filled him up. He thoroughly enjoyed this classic hot dog presentation. The grand sons had a cheeseburger for one and a mustard hot dog for the other accompanied by fries and lemonade. My daughters each had a regular hot dog that they ordered their own way.

Everybody seemed to enjoy the time and the food. I sure enjoyed sharing the pleasures of the hot dog tour with them.