Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mexican Hot Dogs at Mexico Beach

Last week the lovely Caroline and I, along with Susie and Aaron, spent a few days in Florida. We decided to go to "Florida's forgotten coast" which is east of Panama City. So we went to Port St. Joe Florida and also visited the neighboring towns of Apalachicola and Mexico Beach. This trip was like an excursion in a time machine for me. I experienced something I thought I would never see again, Florida the way it was 40-50 years ago. There were no high-rises, no roller coasters, no goofy golf, no water-slides and no traffic. There were limited choices for eating out; but it wasn't hard to find the good ones.

That brings us to the topic of this posting. I have written a couple of previous entries about tamales and called them Mexican hot dogs; but this entry is about a hot dog that is Mexican. One day we ended up at Mexico Beach looking for a place to have a late lunch. The consensus seemed to be for us to stop at Playa Tacos. We had been having a pretty steady diet of seafood so we opted for a little variety.

So here we were stopping at a little taco shop in a row of wood frame commercial properties right on highway 98. These buildings just look like they belong at the beach. They are painted different colors and are connected by a deck across the front. Playa Tacos is the yellow building on the left end. The owners, Jimmy Lopez and Kristen Valko moved to Florida from Austin Texas to start this taco business. What better place for a taco restaurant in Florida than appropriately named Mexico Beach.

The first thing I spotted when we walked in the door was a sign on the counter advertising the "Mexican Hot Dog". Then I think each of my companions pointed it out to me. I guess they know me well; because when I saw that sign it simplified my decision about what I would order.

When it came, the frank/sausage/dog looked a little different, but it was good. It is a big fat frank filled with chicken, cheese and spices. It ends up being kind of orange in color with lots of dark speckles from the seasoning.

The Mexican hot dog comes in tortillas with the addition of cooked peppers, onions and a choice of sauces. When given the choice of what kind of tortilla I asked Jimmy which one he prefers and he recommended the corn tortilla which was a good choice. The pepper and onion are billed as sauteed but looked more like they were steamed. Maybe they had just been warmed again in a steamer, but I had no complaints. After I added the hot salsa, they were the perfect compliment to my Mexican Dog.

I was the only one in the group to order one. The others opted for tacos and fajitas. After I finished my dog I also returned for a taco which I also found to be very good. As I've been trying hot dogs on this "Great Birmingham Hot Dog Tour" I have found that I usually like the unexpected when I find it. This was another case of that happening. This Mexican Hot Dog is definitely worth looking for if you are in the area.

The shop is small with limited seating inside; but there is additional seating on the deck between Playa and the next building. The little deck was a nice place to eat around a table under an umbrella and the wind blowing around.

Now regarding the area, this whole area east of Panama City is worth a visit if you want to see the Gulf Coast without the crowds and massive highrise developments. It's a great place see coastal life that isn't just tourists. This is a great place for those who want to go to the coast to rest, relax, and enjoy the scenery and abundant wildlife.