Monday, August 6, 2012

A New (To Us) Cart

We are always on the lookout for hot dog servers that are new to us. So, when Robert spotted a new cart downtown we put it on our short list of places to visit (Unfortunately, the whole list is short since we have visited so many).

This visit was to Greg's Hot Dogs, the new cart in town. Greg Nuckolls likes to park his cart at the corner of 5th Avenue and 20th Street (southeast corner) where once upon a time the original Tutwiler Hotel stood. These days he is in front of a steel and glass office tower that is currently totally empty. There was talk of converting this building into a hotel but it remains empty.

So, this day we headed downtown to visit this hot dog cart. The weather has bee a little unpredictable lately due to the summer rains and storms; but this day was beautiful. A perfect day to dine alfresco (I think that means outside).

Greg has a "cart"; but it's hard to call it a cart. It is pulled as a trailer into location daily with lots of other coolers and equipment carried in the tow vehicle. These cart guys definitely work hard to make their sales. Set-up and take-down every time they work. Add to that licenses, health inspections and the mandated commissary where the cart/trailer is cleaned and prepared every time. They also deal with weather and the various whims of the city government.

Let's talk about dogs! Greg has good hot dogs. It's hard to maintain the standards one would have in FBO (fixed base operation) from a cart, but Greg does a pretty good job. We had our usual first visit order of a hot dog and a chilli dog. Actually Greg doesn't have a standard "hot dog all the way" or "chili dog all the way". He prefers for the customer to tell him exactly what to put on the dog. The dogs we ordered and ate were outstanding (not just out standing on the sidewalk) but outstanding food. I don't think you can go wrong at Greg's. We were so busy eating these good hot dogs we almost forgot to stop and take pictures. We did manage the picture below of a custom chili cheese dog.

My only complaint, if it is a complaint, is that he has way more topping than he reveals on his menu. Only after talking with him a while did we learn that he has a few specialty dogs up his sleeve. One of these sounds like it's worth a special trip. He told us about a blue cheese dog. He like to add sauteed onions, kraut, a little Tabasco chipotle sauce and blue cheese to a dog. My mouth waters just writing this.
Of note also, take a look at his health inspection rating below. It doesn't get any better.

Greg has a history in the food service industry and chose a hot dog cart for his operation when he returned to Birmingham. I was particularly encouraged to find that he had read much of this blog as he was making up his mind about what he should do in Birmingham. When I started telling him about the blog he stopped me and told me he had read most of it already and was glad we had come for a visit.

Lastly, I couldn't help but think about Steve Malone who used to park his cart just one block north of this location. Look back Here and Here. Steve served the best hot dog I have ever eaten prior to his early death from pancreatic cancer. He left his mark in this world and his life continues to remind me that we are all a breath away from eternity. We need to live our lives accordingly.