Saturday, October 20, 2018
Dining

5 best places to get a hot dog in Tampa Bay

The Godzilla vs. King Kong of dogs is Nathan's versus Vienna. But then you've got to get into the toppings. In New York? A proper dog comes with steamed onions and pale, deli-style yellow mustard. In Kansas City, it's melted Swiss and kraut; Atlanta dogs get a coleslaw mantle. Whatever your frankfurter fantasies, here are some of Tampa Bay's best hot dog spots.

Mel's Hot Dogs

You want a dog to snap when you bite it? Then you want one with the natural casing, made of sheep's intestine, as opposed to a "skinless" dog. (Kosher dogs are either skinless or made with an artificial collagen casing that lacks quite the same snap.) Mel's has the goods. This won't be news to aficionados who have been crowding into this red-and-white storefront near Busch Gardens since 1973. The red wienermobile outside beckons; inside, it's order at the counter. The house special ($4.25, $6.74 as a basket with fries and your choice of coleslaw or baked beans) is packed with sauerkraut, onion, mustard, relish and pickle. Still, the Polish sausage ($5.50, $7.99) is a fat, juicy choice, accessorized with brown mustard and grilled onions.

4136 E Busch Blvd., Tampa; (813) 985-8000

Bruce's Chicago Grill & Dog House

Owner Bruce Karlin, here since 1994, has a more-is-more decorating motif in fluent Windy City: photos of Al Capone, da Bears and other local luminaries, dog-eared menus from Chicago greats, all haphazardly staple-gunned. The way to go here is the Chicago Dog ($3.59), dragged through the garden (translation: with the works). That means a tender steamed poppy seed bun cradling a Vienna beef dog in the casing, topped with yellow mustard, alarmingly neon-green relish, a dill pickle slice, tomato and cuke, chopped onion, "sport peppers" (hot little babies packed in vinegar) and several shakes of celery salt. And a tamale with chili and giardiniera ($2.75) is pure Chi-Town, too.

7733 Ulmerton Road, Largo; (727) 524-1146

Hot Dogs on Main

Susan Norton, a personal chef by trade, is at the helm of this little charmer. She has been going at it for several years now, bringing folks traditional dogs and more pedigreed "show dogs." Case in point, the new Chihuahua: That's a wiener putting on the dog with guacamole, mango salsa, diced onion, Greek yogurt, jalapeno melted cheddar and crushed Fritos for $5.95. The standard issue here are Vienna 1:6 (that means six dogs in a pound) skinless all-beef dogs, but she will sub out a veggie dog, organic turkey or beef dog. Popular options include a bacon-cheddar dog ($4.55) and a BLT dog ($4.50).

505 Main St., Dunedin; (727) 408-5103

Coney Island Grill

1926. That's a long time to be the alpha dog, but Coney Island's Michigan-style chili dog ($2) is the coin of the realm, especially when eaten atop a vinyl stool at the counter with an impossibly thick chocolate shake ($3.75) at your elbow. The franks cost more than the nickel that owner Pete Barlas charged back in the day (he did add a 5-cent extra charge for anyone who ordered — sacrilege — ketchup on their chili dog), but son Hank and grandson Pete Barlas II haven't let prices get out of hand. While you're there, it's worth checking out the mighty fine BLT ($4), as well.

250 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 822-4493

Americanwiener

This food truck cruises the mean streets of Wesley Chapel, sometimes downtown Tampa (MOSI, Curtis Hixon) and sometimes St. Petersburg. To keep track of its whereabouts, visit the website, americanwienertruck.com. It's been around for several years and changed hands, but current owners, husband-and-wife team Ben and Amy Laffey, have a serious following. What got people in a tizzy initially was the Asian dog, which combines nori seaweed, pickled ginger, Japanese kewpie mayonnaise, grilled onions, teriyaki sauce and furikake seasonings on an all-beef wiener ($5). Since then, allegiances might have shifted to their own spin on the Chicago dog, called the Capone: an all-beef wiener dressed with roma tomatoes, onions, mustard, piccalillis, wild cucumber spears, Thai chile peppers and furikake seasonings ($5).

To find them or book them, call (813) 720-7692.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

     
Comments
Is the annual pass worth it? As Disney changes pricing system, we help you decide

Is the annual pass worth it? As Disney changes pricing system, we help you decide

Though costly, annual passes at Disney World, Universal, Busch Gardens and other parks can sometimes be a smarter choice. You just have to know what you’re getting.
Published: 10/19/18
Dr. BBQ opens to the public today. Here’s a look.

Dr. BBQ opens to the public today. Here’s a look.

ST. PETERSBURGDr. BBQ needed a beer. Mission accomplished: A sip of Green Bench’s Dr. BBQ Pale Lager dispatched, he was ready to start the tour. See that teal tufted couch against that wall? It’s like something from Girl & the Goat in Chicago. The wo...
Published: 10/17/18
What I learned about food by eating a 27-course meal at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns

What I learned about food by eating a 27-course meal at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns

A recent trip to upstate New York provided the perfect excuse to try the renowned chef’s restaurant, and a once-in-a-lifetime meal.
Published: 10/17/18
Recipe for bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Recipe for bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Enjoy a taste of the Big Easy with Bourbon Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce.
Published: 10/17/18
Realignment at Big Bend intersection promises safer traffic flow after construction headaches

Realignment at Big Bend intersection promises safer traffic flow after construction headaches

GIBSONTON – A new north-south road is coming to relieve traffic along U.S. 301, but making way for it promises some short-term traffic headaches for a South Shore region already stymied by congestion.The new road would run more than four miles...
Published: 10/16/18
Updated: 10/17/18
From the food editor: A carrot coconut soup from Chrissy Teigen’s second ‘Cravings’ cookbook

From the food editor: A carrot coconut soup from Chrissy Teigen’s second ‘Cravings’ cookbook

This bright, vegetable soup was inspired by a recent farm meal.
Published: 10/16/18
After more than two decades, Davis Islands' 220 East still brings its A game

After more than two decades, Davis Islands' 220 East still brings its A game

220 East on Davis Islands is a rarity, a restaurant that has stood the test of time but still ably caters to local tastes.
Published: 10/15/18
Taste test: Pumpkin spice cereal

Taste test: Pumpkin spice cereal

Our panelists spent a lot of time this season sampling pumpkin spice-flavored foods.
Published: 10/15/18
Where to find Tampa Bay Halloween parties, pumpkin patches and events

Where to find Tampa Bay Halloween parties, pumpkin patches and events

Experience everything from kid-friendly events to horrifying haunted houses to spooky art projects this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 10/11/18
Top things to do this weekend Eddie Izzard, A Night at the Museum, birding and nature festival, Sesame Street Live and more

Top things to do this weekend Eddie Izzard, A Night at the Museum, birding and nature festival, Sesame Street Live and more

Catch a comedian reflect on his life, spend a wild night at the museum and go birding this weekend.
Published: 10/10/18
Updated: 10/12/18