Monday, December 13, 2010

Mr. Hot Dog in Bessemer - Lunch with Cousin Cliff

Not only did I have lunch with Cousin Cliff (not to mention Popeye), but this was right next door to Big Mama!

Yes, you guessed it, I had lunch at Mr. Hot Dog in downtown Bessemer with Cousin Cliff keeping watch over my table.

Mr. Hot Dog is a long time hot dog server located within a half block of the Bright Star in Bessemer. Talk about competition…. Wow. I was alone on this visit. There were 7 of us from my office who were in Bessemer on this day, but I alone went for hot dogs rather than going to the Bright Star. As I look back I remember my conversation with Mr. Hot Dog himself; as we talked he asked me how I came to start the hot dog tour. I responded; “I guess I’m just crazy”. Maybe the fact that I passed up going to the Bright Star is a confirmation of that. Oh well.

Regarding Mr. Hot Dog, if you need a quick easy lunch while in Bessemer, this is the place. I enjoyed the various pictures on the wall which featured various reminders of past decades.

Can one eat too many hot dogs?

My precious wife, a survivor of colon cancer, expressed her concern for my repeated hot dog lunches. Friday night I looked back at the last eight days and saw that I have had hot dogs for lunch five out of those last eight days. I can’t argue that this might be a little over the top. Accordingly my consumption of “tube steaks” might be reduced a little in coming days.

There is this urban legend that you don’t want to see hot dogs being made. I have watched a video on that topic and it didn’t discourage me. Take a look.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deb’s Hot Dog’s in Bessemer

Our efforts to visit every hot dog server in the Birmingham area has become a little harder. I have a list of these places that includes areas around town that would require over an hour of travel time for a round trip to lunch.

This week my work is making it necessary for me to be in Bessemer for two days. I am taking advantage of this to have lunch at two hot dog servers in Bessemer. The first one I visited was Deb’s Hot Dogs, the second was Mr. Hot Dog (look for the next post).

Deb’s is a small white building that is easy to miss. We had good directions and still missed it on the first pass. Once we were there we found a down home atmosphere with a loyal following. For these visits Robert wasn’t with me but when I went to Deb’s I was accompanied by 3 people who work with me.

Our experience at Deb‘s was very good. None of these guys had been on a hot dog tour visit with me prior to this visit. They really got into the experience giving it somewhat of a party atmosphere. Even the food was good. After all, that’s what this is all about.

We all enjoyed our hot dogs and sides. The dogs at Deb’s are predictable hot dogs, very typical of the hot dog servers in our area. Interestingly when I told Deb about the blog she asked me; “Did I pass?” She most definitely “passed”; this place is a good place to stop when you are in Bessemer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

WOW! Steve Malone Serves A Great Chili-Dog

This week Robert and I decided to make up for lost time over the last few weeks. We decided to go for dogs two days in a row. I even ended up doing three days in a row, but more about that later.

We went to Sneaky Pete's in Hoover on Thursday, then decided Friday morning to visit another vendor. I am always at a loss of what to call these guys; hot dog stands, hot dog restaurants, hot dog vendors... None of these seem to fit for everybody. Nevertheless we decided to search a NEW street vendor in downtown Birmingham. I don't remember who first told me about this guy, but somehow I heard about Steve Malone's new venture. I actually knew him in a "former life", but haven't seen him in several years.

Lets get down to business... the business of hot dogs.

I must say that his chili dog is possibly the best I have ever eaten! But, here's the whole story. Robert and I arrived at Steve's corner (6th Avenue North & 20th Street - right in front of the Church of the Advent). We were a little late for lunch and arrived to see him beginning to shut down. We immediately asked if he could still sell us a dog and were pleased to hear him offer chili dogs. As we waited a couple of other customers came up and also wanted to eat. Within the time it took us to finish he had sold slap out of hot dogs and chili.

I was taking pictures as usual so I told him about this blog and what we were doing. He then urged me to come back and see him in "full operation" with the perfect opportunity the next day, Saturday, at The Summit Shopping Center. This would be his first day at the Summit. Since this location is very close to my home I decided to drop by on Saturday to have another taste of his chili dogs as well as see the full operation.

Friday, downtown, Robert got his second dog after I did, and he ordered a chili-slaw dog and then proceeded to rave about it, but didn't offer me a sample. So, Saturday I was there at the Summit and really really wanted to try one of these. As it was being prepared I asked Steve to fix it like he likes 'em. He told me he calls it a Steve dog, locally prepared mustard, chili, relish and slaw (from the Urban Standard). It was great... I had intended to eat just one but had to order another. While I was there a rather hefty female customer came up and ordered a hot dog. I suggested to her that she should try a "Steve dog" which she did. After she had finished one she ordered two more (for herself). Wow, I just love to see somebody enjoy their food, and she did.

Have I said enough? Just in case I haven't I'll tell a little about the chili. His chili is a vegetarian chili complete with Wickles relish (a great Alabama product). This is unusual chili, not something one would eat a bowl of but designed just for hot dogs. The flavor is a little unexpected but is very good; then when combined with the slaw makes an outstanding package. Steve is a little low key about this dog but I think he should be a little more aggressive in offering this unique product. As I look back at my pictures I find I totally missed photographing the "Steve dog", but it wasn't around very long, neither one.

We have always been on the lookout for distinctly local and Southern products such as Golden Flake Potato chips. Steve has taken this to a new level by using a local boutique mustard, serving Buffalo Rock ginger ale and crediting Urban Standard for the slaw. There is nothing like supporting the local economy! Something else we always enjoy is finding a hot dog with a unique flavor or twist and this is definitely one. I hope to return for more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sneaky Pete's in Hoover - The Owner Operator

This week after a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday we decided to make our first visit to the major chain of hot dog stands in town, Sneaky Pete's. We have admittedly avoided Sneaky Pete's in order to first visit many of the independents. Our first visit to the chain was to the Hoover location at 1550 Montgomery Highway, Hoover, AL. For those who haven't memorized street addresses for the city, this is in the shopping center just south of the intersection of I-65 and US-31 at the foot of Shades Mountain, just south of Vestavia.

Through the years I have been to many Sneaky Pete's locations on many occasions. The quality is somewhat inconsistent from location to location, but the product is generally good. On this visit to this location we discovered an owner operated franchise location run by Barry and Patty Marsh. Bary and Patty obviously take pride in their restaurant; they keep it clean and sell quality food.

Bottom line, this is one of the best Sneaky Pete's locations one can visit.

Somehow this outing grew to include quite a group. We had an entourage of six when we placed our order. Robert and I have this illusion that we keep out presence low key.... but this is blown when we start taking pictures. Maybe we should always try to take a big group so they are so busy filling our orders we don't get any attention. Nevertheless as we were leaving today, as we usually do we made our introductions and explained what we were doing. Barry was all smiles and welcomed our attention. That's what you get when the management is the owner, they know they are doing a good job.

Among the group we ordered a variety of hot dogs, but I heard no complaints. At my table I observed a foot-long hot dog, cheese fries, a special dog and of course a chili dog and regular hot dog all the way. This visit was enjoyed by all despite placing our lives in peril by riding with Huggy Bear.

A while back I suggested a "hot dog diet". My logic was that ones stomach couldn't handle a steady diet of hot dogs and one would eventually be forced to eat less. Sneaky Pete's urges one to visit "Morning, Noon & Night. Based on the experience at this location I have my doubts that my diet would work; this food is just too good.