Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Ho Down!

This past Saturday I went to a client's establishment for a rare Saturday appearance. On the way there I noticed a Bar-BQ truck/trailer/vendor in a bright red truck and trailer on a vacant lot along Highway 11 just west of Dearfoot Parkway. I asked my clients who have a fixed base operation less than a mile away if they had ever tried it. They had not. Even so, I was hungry and thought I would stop and get some Bar-BQ. So I stopped at the red truck and trailer with a couple of guys sitting next to it in lawn chairs.

My experience is that these side of the road guys often have some really good offerings, which was the case here. Although I wasn't looking for dogs, I immediately noticed them on the menu. I was in the mood for Bar B Q so that had to be part of my order; but I also asked about the dogs.

I was told that their hot dogs have a special seasoning that brings people back asking for more. That was enough to get me to order one. I asked the guy at the window how he liked his dogs. The answer I got was far from creative; he likes catchup and mustard... that's it. I must say it kind of dampened my enthusiasm a little. I did finally order a dog with kraut, catchup and mustard. I tend to default to what the "house" thinks is good. Somehow I missed the optimal hot dog experience at Ho Down as mine was lukewarm and seemed to have no special seasoning. It was OK but nothing special as far as I was concerned. The menu offered dogs with chow chow or with slaw but there was no "signature dog" that they had decided was the way to serve a hot dog. Perhaps they should give this a little attention.

As I talked with these guys I learned that some customers have requested a hot dog topped with Bar-BQ (think Q-dog) or moon dog. It seems a shame that they haven't put enough creativity into their menu to push their own unique hot dog.

Now on the other side, the Bar-BQ is wonderful. You will not find better Bar-BQ anywhere. I like lots of different kinds of sauces, but when I find a bar BQ that tastes this good in a mild sauce like theirs, I know I have found the real thing. Even if they don't know how to market a hot dog, their Bar-BQ is good.

Now a little more about Ho Down: This trailer is an engineering marvel. If you are there ask about the trailer. The roof is covered with solar panels so that they have no need to connect to Alabama Power and pay no power bill. They cook meat 24/7 with the use of gas to heat the cooker supplemented by a wood chamber that provides smoke.I would like to see them figure out how to smoke the dogs before they serve 'em. And maybe serve them a little warmer. Regardless of the dogs, this rig is a real marvel.

So if stop at Ho Down (the red truck and trailer) try some Bar-BQ and tell them to warm you up a hot dog and pile on some Bar-BQ. I bet you will not be disappointed especially if they have started smoking the dogs.

I had a recent comment about Lulu's in Trussville. This a long trip for at lunch time; but we plan to visit Lulu's soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


There is a new burger joint at The Colonnade. Just down from Taziki's and Pablo's on the corner you will find Mooyah Burgers. I had spotted this place a few weeks ago and took the lovely Caroline there for a burger last week. While there I noticed the hot dogs on the menu and quickly realized I would be returning soon to try the dogs. It didn't take long to get back since I found myself in the area at lunchtime a few days later.

My first impression was; this place is kinda like Five Guys. Kinda like but not a clone. Mooyah is more polished and concentrates on service. They don't have the peanuts that Five Guys has, but I didn't miss 'em once I got my order. Who needs peanuts when you get servings like this?

On my first visit, Caroline and I had burgers and fries. The burgers were big, tasted great and the fries were served in massive quantities. On my second visit I was aiming for a dog or two. I started with one dog, a small order of fries, and a drink. I figured I could always order a second if I wanted one. When you order at Mooyah you check the boxes on a menu/order sheet to select your sandwich and it's components. I selected a fresh baked white bun and a hot dog topped with mustard, grilled onions and relish. The one topping I would have ordered if they had was kraut. I guess a restaurant that specializes in burgers doesn't have many calls for kraut. Once I started eating I didn't miss it. The toppings available include all of their various burger topping which make for some interesting options.

When my dog came I first had to find it in the bag. I had ordered a small order of fries which looked more like a jumbo order when it came. The fries had filled the fries container easily, then more had been dumped into my bag burying my hot dog under a heavy layer of fries. When I finally opened my dog it had been split down it's length and grilled.I was impressed that the fresh baked bun did not break open on the bottom like I have seen similar hot dogs do. I was really impressed with the flavor! I found out that they use an all beef, Hebrew National dog. when they split and grill it there is a wonderful flavor. I have said many times that as I try hot dogs I really appreciate the unusual. Mooyah has succeeded in blending the expected with the unexpected to make a unique hot dog.

I was alone on this visit since Robert is in Oregon for a couple of weeks for family visits and a wedding. I look forward to his return so I can take him to Mooyah for a dog. Next time I think we should split one small order of fries so we can get two dogs.

I can eat out of a bag and a wrapper with the best of ''em, but a paper plate would have been nice to have. Maybe they should make these available over by the drinks or somewhere. It would have made this old timer feel just a little more comfortable. Even so, I will return.

Before I left I was taking a few pictures and apparently attracted the attention of Josh Barrow one of the owners. I had a nice talk with him and heard of their plans to open several more of these places in the Birmingham area. His three man group has purchased the Alabama rights to open more of these restaurants. They want to have a high standard for service to the customer and they are off to a good start. Mooyah's opened first in Dallas and has their largest concentration of locations in Texas but is spreading across the country. We will probably be seeing more of Mooyah in the future.

Another Visit:


Here we are a couple of days after I posted the entry above. Today, Sunday, Caroline wanted to meet Susie and Aaron at Mooyah for lunch after church. So, there we were. I had raved about the hot dogs so she wanted to try one. (Listen folks, this is rare, that she is asking to try a hot dog). This was an unusually warm December day; so we ate outside.

We did have hot dogs, burgers and fries. Caroline and I each had our own dog and then split a "Mooyah Little Burger" and a small order of fries. This was enough to more than fill us. This time we had our dogs in fresh baked whole wheat buns which fit the split and grilled dog real well. We had different toppings than I had ordered the first time; and we both loved our hot dogs. The service continues to be good; and they still don't have plates (boo) but the food is good.

They were doing a brisk business and they still don't have platres, but the food is still good!