Thursday, June 3, 2010


I tried to contact my brother regarding our somewhat regular Wednesday lunch together, but had no success. I guess he was still on vacation. So left on my own I persuaded one of my associates to go with me to Tony's Hot Dogs.
Tony's is on Highway 31 in the Hoover/Helena area, just north of Valleydale Road. I've had takeout from there but never actually been there myself. How can that be? I am spoiled rotten by the women in my office who will pick up a take-out lunch for me almost every day. One in particular, who has a letter for a name first introduced me to Tony's "Junk Yard Dog".

The Junk Yard Dog is quite a creation. It is best eaten on a plate with a knife and fork. The Junk Yard Dog is a jumbo hot dog with every addition available added. It has toppings like cheese, chili, slaw, kraut, "specialsauce", and who knows what else. It is good, better than you might think, but it does overflow the bun.

On this first official visit to Tony's I ordered, can you guess, a chili dog and a hot dog - all the way, chips and a drink. The experience was pleasing. The dogs remind me of the downtown hot dog stands since they have a similar sauce and construction. Tony's is clearly a suburban hot dog place. I can't even call it a hot dog stand since no one actually stands to eat their hot dogs. There is ample seating for the flow of customers we observed. The customers (with few exceptions) arrive by vehicle rather than walking from a nearby businesses. Tony's is located in a strip shopping center along a very busy highway.

I wanted to meet Tony but discovered that Tony is no longer associated with the business. There seems to be a pattern here.... hot dog places have a name but the guy who's name is on it is long gone. The guy in charge, I presume the current owner, was too busy with some maintenance issues (on the floor) so I didn't get to meet him.

Overall I would say that Tony's is a pretty good place. It beats a thirty minute drive into downtown Birmingham for a hot dog. The dogs are much like what one would expect at a downtown hot dog stand.

  • They were OUT OF regular potato chips. (they like to sell fries and onion rings).
  • It would be nice if they tried a little harder to clean up the tables after customers finish and leave. When we were there were several empty tables but none of them were clean. (take a lesson from the Varsity!!)
In their favor:
  • A pretty good hot dog as well as offering a "Junk Yard Dog".
  • They even offer a corn dog. (I have a wonderful recollection of corn dogs from my earlier years, but I won't tell it now.)
  • seating, such as it is, which allows a little more time at lunch. (But what's with that crazy booth with the backrests that are bent into a reclining position?)
Now a word about this nameless associate who went with me. This guy has an incredible history with the Birmingham hot dog stands. He has grown to be a little out of touch the last few years, but has a huge knowledge of the old timers. We had a rich discussion about the Greeks who dominated the downtown hot dog stands for years. I hope to persuade him to write an occasional guest entry.

Let me encourage the reader to click the link on the left of this page to view the video about the Birmingham hot dog stands. This video. "Hot-dog-opolis" was done by the University of Mississippi as part of an effort to document some of the cultural history of the south. It is fascinating for anyone who has any interest in Birmingham and it's restaurants. There is even an appearance of the one and only original Sneaky Pete.