Saturday, October 1, 2011

Salem's Diner

Salem's Diner is a small place in downtown Homewood at 2913 18th Street South. Take a look at their web site: Here. I've noticed Salem's for a while now but had never gone in until a couple of days ago. This week I finally got around to giving Salem's a try. They prominently feature a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich but of course I opted for hot dogs. The hot dogs are hard to miss since they are the first thing on the menu with a hot dog, chili dog, slaw dog, Salem dog and corn dog.

Before I go any farther I want to give a little history. Salem's Diner is run by Wayne Salem, the son of Ed Salem. The walls are filled with pictures and memorabilia honoring his father. For many years there was a chain of drive ins in Birmingham known as Ed Salem's. Ed Salem was a Alabama football star in the late 40's and went on to play in the NFL and CFL. You can read an article about his being inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in the "News/Press" tab on Salem's web site. He returned to Birmingham and opened the drive ins that were popular in the 50's. I remember going to the location on 26th Street north and eating in the car; of course orders were taken and food delivered by a car hop. In later years they were known for Lebanese diners. I also remember the neon signs across the top of the building. At night you could watch the football thrown by neon Ed move across to a neon receiver at the other end. This was very close to the giant animated sign on the old Buffalo Rock building which showed a bottle repeatedly filling a glass presumably with Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale. I loved those old signs.

Shown above is an early picture of Ed Salem's No. 1 on 26th Street.

There are no car hops at Salem's Diner but there is some good food. This is a pretty small place but those who want to dine in can sit at one of several tables or on a stool at the counter. Things were a little slow when I was there, but it was a very late lunch around 2:00. It was obvious that they do a brisk business but by 2;00 it slows down.

The owner, Wayne Salem is pouring the coffee above.

As usual when I go to a place the first time I order a hot dog and a chili dog, both all the way. I was presented with my two dogs with very generous application of toppings. They were served with a knife and fork which were needed. These dogs are so full they don't lend themselves to being picked up. I also noticed that there are no "pencil weenies" at Salem's. The dogs are larger than the usual hot dog but smaller than what I see called "jumbo". They were served hot and had a great flavor. My bottom line is that this place is a top tier choice for hot dogs and definitely worth visiting.

One more piece of Ed Salem nostalgia. Below you can see the sign that for many years stood in front of his number two location on 3rd Avenue South at 32nd Street (on the southeast corner). Today it is a vacant lot. I noticed another interesting thing about the picture, the rear of a car headed east on 3rd Avenue. The picture was taken back when this part of 3rd Avenue South was a two way street. It has been one way headed west (toward the camera) for decades.

1 comment: