Sunday, September 11, 2011

Colonel Dixie

Here's an entry written by my brother Robert who has been my companion on almost all of these visits. It looks like our joint excursions might not happen for a while. I'll miss him but will try to carry on.

We have occasionally included a place that's not in the Birmingham area, so let's hear from him about hot dogs in Mobile.

Some 28 years ago, a co-worker and I flew to Mobile for a meeting one day. When our meeting was done, before we headed to the airport for the flight back to Birmingham, Paul, who was from Mobile said: “We have to get a Colonel Dixie Dog!”. I had never heard of a Colonel Dixie Dog, but Paul was a good judge of food and was so excited about it, I knew it would be good. In all fairness, I don’t remember much about the Dixie Dog 28 years later, but I do remember that I enjoyed it. Although I have been to Mobile many times since then, I have only thought about Colonel Dixie once or twice until recently, and have never gone back to Colonel Dixie until last week.

Ever since Karl and I started the Hot Dog tour, I have wondered what became of Colonel Dixie and his dogs. I’ve wondered how the Dixie Dog compared to some of the tubular culinary delights we have found in Birmingham. Last week I was in Dauphin Island with some members of my family and some friends and we were to depart for our drive back to Birmingham around lunch time. We decided we would eat lunch in Mobile before departing for home. I did a Google search to see if I could find Colonel Dixie, and was delighted to find that it is still there. My curiosity about his dogs would soon be satisfied.

Colonel Dixie is located just a few blocks off I-65. at the intersection of Government Blvd and Pleasant Valley Rd. Upon our arrival, I noted that the exterior of the building is not very well maintained, but most hot dog destinations are somewhat low-budget operations, so I didn’t dwell on it. Later, a visit to the rest room (which one access from outside, not from the dining area) revealed the need for a new faucet as the one on the sink was somewhat deteriorated. Colonel Dixie has four tables outside on a covered patio area and 6 booths inside. One of the outside tables was in need of repair, and one of the booths inside had some stuff parked on it as though it functioned as the office for the restaurant.

As I entered, I noticed a sign taped to the door, stating “Sorry, No Public Phone”. After that warm welcome, I approached the counter to place my order, and saw another sign saying “No Cell Phones please refrain from using a cell phone while placing order so we can better assist you”. I’m thinking that is just common courtesy, but I suppose there are those who don’t. In case you miss the No Public Phone sign on the door, there is another prominently placed near where you place your order. I might as well mention the signs informing diners, “1 Free Refills on Large Tea and Lemonade Only” and “All Condiments Upon Request”. I found myself recalling a song from my teenage years, entitled “Signs, Signs” recorded by the Five Man Electrical Band. . . but, I digress.

As the lady working the counter was taking an order, I thought I would make the most of my time and take a couple of pictures. After I took the first two, the lady behind the counter (who I later learned was the manager) interrupted what she was doing to tell me that I was not allowed to take pictures of the menu. I’m not sure why she imposed that rule, but I complied and took no more photos of their menu. When it came my time to order, I asked how their regular dog was served and learned that it comes dressed only with ketchup and mustard, so I decided to pass on the regular dog and just get a Dixie Dog and fries. In case their hamburger is what keeps people coming back, I ordered a deluxe hamburger as well.

The Dixie Dog is topped with Chili, onions, kraut, mustard, ketchup, dill chips and sweet relish. The Dixie Dog was served hot and was appropriately described by my friends as “bursting with flavor”. The chili without beans is just right for a chili dog, but probably not something I would want a bowl of for lunch on a cold winter day. The bun appeared to have been steamed as it stuck to the aluminum foil on which the Dixie Dog was served. The Dixie Dog was so good that I went back and ordered another. Its $2.59 price makes it one of the pricier chili dogs we’ve seen on our tour, but it is good. I think everyone in our party who ordered a Dixie Dog enjoyed it. The crinkle-cut fries were crisp, hot, and had just the right amount of salt. One thing you will not find at Colonel Dixie is a bag of potato chips. There were none to be had. Oh, as for the hamburger, it was a disappointment. The bun was so stale that it came apart in my hand as I took my first bite, and the size of the meat patty revealed why they offer Giant Hamburgers and Double Meat Hamburgers. (Can you say, “Where’s the beef?”)

It is our goal, in doing the Hot Dog Tour, to be as positive as we can and to have fun with it. However, there are some places about which we have to be honest, even though it is not real positive. Colonel Dixie is one of those. The Dixie Dog was good, but the establishment itself has gone down-hill since my visit with Paul Rettig 28 years ago. I actually think this is a different location than the one we visited years ago, but this is the last remaining location of what started was a small chain some years back. I’m not sure of everything that has caused their demise, but the lack of cleanliness and the ill-repair of the building were enough to convince me not to return. Unless something changes soon, I fear the Dixie Dog will soon be only a memory.


  1. I just your Hot Dog Tour and have enjoyed the read. I would like to invite you to my place in Springville, Al. We're 13 miles up I-59 from Trussvile. My place is called The Shack Burgers & BBQ. Although we're not "Dog" stand we serve what we think is one of the best around!

  2. There used to be several Col. Dixie locations in Mobile. After the owner's wife was killed and he was found guilty of hiring a hit man to do it, the chain went through a number of changes and the one in the picture is the last one left standing. I don't believe that any of the original management is involved. The Dew Drop Inn is widely recognized for having the best chili dogs and hot dogs in Mobile, you should try it on your next visit.