Friday, August 19, 2016

The New Dog in Town

Rather than going to one of the old favorites again Robert and I were intrigued when his daughter Laura gave us a heads up about a new hot dog place in Avondale, Hot Diggity Dogs. I doubt if I ever would have spotted this place without reading about it before going there. It is located at is 430 41st Street South on the second floor above Fancy’s on Fifth in Avondale. The building is at the corner of 41st Street and 5th Avenue South, directly across the street from Avondale Park. One enters Hot DiggityDogs through a door toward the rear of the building on the side facing Fifth Avenue South. So it seems that the front door for Fancy’s on Fifth is actually on 41st Street, and the door for Hot Diggity Dogs is actually on 5th Avenue. Fancy’s on Fifth, billed as “Oyster Dive – Burger Bar” in Avondale and Hot Diggity Dogs billed as “Hot Dog Joint” share the same building and street address.

Avondale is an old neighborhood that has attracted lots of new food and drink servers in recent years and seems to be thriving. These two restaurants are located in a historic two story building that has been through a number of transformations over the years. I have noticed the building for decades and always liked the little arches on the windows and creative brick work on the front. I would love to know when the building was built and what it's first use was. When we were there it was raining so I didn't get any good photos of the exterior, but they can be found on their facebook pages linked above.


We climbed the stairs to Hot Diggity Dogs and emerged into a smallish dining area with lots of counters and stools around an open area. There are several windows offering a nice view across 5th Avenue into Avondale Park and creating a bright atmosphere.

But what about the hot dogs? We have always enjoyed finding unusual hot dogs and we certainly found some here. Of course the menu includes a “Birmingham Dog”, which is what we find at most hot dog joints around Birmingham; but there are also several other dogs that I don’t think you can find anywhere else around here. All of the dogs are large all-beef dogs that are hearty. 

The menu includes: 
Winky Dink Dog:: Pimento cheese, mustard, onion.
Sayonara Dog: Surimi salad, pickled ginger, seaweed relish.
Oh Canadog!: Fries, cheese, gravy, onion.
Deli Dog: Pastrami, kraut, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing.
Birmingham Dog: Mustard, onion, kraut, sauce.
The Motherload: Chili, mustard, onion, kraut, slaw.
Emperor Gochujang: Gochujang slaw, pickled onion, Korean barbecue sauce.
Waimea Dog: Spam and pineapple relish, sriracha mayo.
Diablo Dog: Jalapeno, bacon, cheese, tortilla strips.
Build Your Own Dog: Pick your toppings.
Fries, tater tots and pork skins.
Chili-cheese tots
Pork skin nachos
Vegan chili and meat chili
Tuna salad and goat cheese-apple-and-onion salad 
They also serve "Grapico Ice Cream"

We took a couple of minutes to take it all in and ordered four different dogs planning to split them all between us so we could taste some of the unusual offerings. We settled on a “winky dink dog”, a “Birmingham dog”, a “The Motherload” [dog], and an "Oh Canadog!" with a side order of tots to split. The dogs all came on waxed paper lined cardboard serving trays. The first thing we noticed was that the dogs were filled so generously that we couldn't pick them up to eat. We resorted to using a fork and knife not just to split the dogs but also to eat them.

Here's our order when it came
Winky Dink Dog and Motherload

I think my favorite from the four we ordered was the Winky Dink Dog. The slightly sharp pimento cheese along with mustard and onion on a hot dog was great. Robert’s first choice was the Motherload which positively overflowed with chili over mustard, onion, kraut, slaw and of course an all-beef dog. This dog was my second choice coming close to my first choice. It reminded me of a dog we once encountered which was called a "junk yard dog"

Birmingham Dog

The Birmingham dog was a good large version of the dog usually encountered around here and was also very good. I guess it is also unusual given the size of the dog used and the abundant toppings.

Oh Canadog!

Then the “Oh Canadog!” (shown to the left) was something really different. You may have noticed we didn’t venture to try some of the dogs with toppings we couldn’t pronounce. We were tempted to try the Diablo Dog, but Robert made the call to try the Oh Canadog which is topped with fries, cheese, gravy, and onion. I have never thought about topping a hot dog with gravy but it wasn’t bad, just different.

Preparation takes a little longer than at your usual hot dog stand, but when served the dogs are fresh and worth the short wait. I will also comment that they are a little pricier than the usual hot dog but can accurately be labeled as gourmet hot dogs.

All in all we enjoyed each one we tried. It would have been nice to try the Grapico ice cream, but we were just too full.

We spoke with chef Tom Bagby who is the general manager and came up with the creative menu. There is a nice interview with him from Weld for Birmingham at this link.

There is also a nice article about Hot Diggity Dogs on here.

Hot Diggity Dogs seems to fit right into the eclectic style of repurposed buildings in Avondale. The creative menu will probably draw some customers who wouldn’t usually eat at a hot dog joint. They just need to spread the word. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Eight Going to the TOP

A few days ago we were keeping three grandchildren for a few days. I had planned on taking them out for hot dogs one day for lunch and one thing started leading to another. Before long my wife, a daughter, and I were taking those three along with two more from another family to have lunch at TipTop Grill. So here we went, three adults and five kids aged from one to fourteen.


I have always liked going to Tip Top Grill. They are located on the bluff in Bluff Park in a recycled gas station. Whenever I eat here, the view and breeze give me a sense of going on a vacation. I think it’s an unusual environment that makes it a fun place to eat. Tip Top has lots of seating outside along the bluff, on the deck, or under the canopy in front. This day was a little overcast and we actually saw a little rain so we opted to eat in the dining room which I had never done before. The dining room is small but it can seat more people than I first thought when I saw it.

With kids almost every order is special due to their likes, dislikes, and lack of a fully developed appreciation for good food. So everybody got their order as correctly as we could communicate it. 

First thing I heard as we were sitting down was the six year old redheaded granddaughter announce that there is a fantastic view. I agreed. So we distributed the food and had a good time eating together and socializing with other customers. No bashful kids here. 

 Then as we were close to finishing up, in walked a long-time friend who was just stopping in for lunch. In my last post I talked about Jack joining me for lunch and now another friend named Jack walked in. This Jack and I have joked about what we might be able to pull off together. I agree with the comments Jack has heard for years, that he looks like Robin Williams; and I have been told how I look like Steven Spielberg, even by some who have met him. But we didn’t attempt any role-playing, we just ate and had a good time together.

 How was the food? I heard no complaints and I think if anything it is better than on previous visits. I liked it so much that I bought the tee-shirt. To eat we had hot dogs with a variety of toppings, chili dogs, chili cheese dogs, and slaw dogs. We even had one cheeseburger which was pronounced as great. A good time was had by all.