Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dee's Cart With A Heart

Somehow both Robert and I were too busy to make a hot dog excursion last week; so we were ready for hot dogs at lunch on Thursday. We are at the point where we are having to get a little more creative and go to a little more effort in our quest (to visit every hot dog server in Birmingham). We have both heard several glowing tributes to a hot dog cart in the area of UAB Hospital on Southside; so we decided to start finding the street vendors. We weren't even sure where to find Dee's but had no trouble spotting her at the busy corner of 7th Avenue South and 20th Street. Every day the weather permits, Dee parks her cart just around the corner from tho old University Hospital right outside the Dentistry Building. Her bright umbrella and hot dog shaped cart are hard to miss.

Here's an article about Dee that was in the Birmingham News a while back. LINK

So what did we find at Dee's. A surprisingly good product sold by a busy vendor with a loyal following! I went to our first street vendor prepared to lower my standards due to the difficulties of doing business from a cart only to find that Dee can compete with the best. We placed our order and chose to stand next to the cart to dine rather than walk down the block to some benches. It was interesting to see the mix of customers who came and went during our short time there. We noticed that she greeted several regular customers by telling them their usual order with a question mark on the end. One noticeable customer was a well dressed man in coat and tie who was buying his usual, an all beef dog with relish and mustard. He looked a little sheepishly at us and remarked how he should try some other options sometime; but I think he has found what he likes and doesn't need to experiment any more.

Here are some great positives we noticed:
  • The chili on the chili dogs is definitely fresh home made chili with a great flavor. Maybe she should sell it by the bowl.
  • Her drinks are stored in big tubs of ice and served ice cold.
  • The hot dog shaped cart is a real winner.
  • The prices are among the best values we have found anywhere.
  • Dee is a stickler for hygiene putting on a clean plastic glove every time she starts an order.

There are thousands of people within a close walk of her stand every day; and parking can be difficult in that area. So one would not expect much drive up activity, yet we were able to park within 20 feet of her stand and saw at least one customer pull up and pause in the turn lane for an order, an order that was communicated by a wave. I don't remember seeing anything like this at any of the other places we have visited.

This is one of those places I plan to return to. My next visit will most likely coincide with a trip to UAB for some reason other than lunch, but also will most likely involve some special planning in my schedule. It is worth the effort.