Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hot Dog Tommy's



It took a while, but I found someone who's crazier about hot dogs than I am. He's also named Tommy, and he runs a fine walk-up hot dog counter in Cape May New Jersey, at the tippity tip of the Shore. Just off Beach Street you'll find him selling dogs from morning 'till night. We found it before dinner at the Merion Inn, where lobster awaited us, so we went the next morning. "At 9:57 you'll be in hot dog heaven," Tommy told us. He likes the rhymes.
For example he sells two brands of dogs- the B.A.D. dog, or Black Angus all-beef frank, and the classic Leaner Weiner, the easily recognized tube steak used for dirty water dogs throughout the state. We opted for the classics- this was an early meal, after all. They were quite tasty, with good flavor that the myriad of toppings couldn't smother.
I grabbed a Hot Tommy Dog (tabasco mayo, fresh tomatoes, pickle spear, onions) and a Black Russian (rubbed with black pepper, Russian dressing, and Chicago-style pickle). Firecracker loves her taters, so she grabbed a Potato Tornado, which is mashed potatoes, chili, cheese, banana peppers, salsa, and sour cream. Amazingly that all fits in one cup! They were delicious. I liked the Hot Tommy best, it had a nice mix of tang and sweetness.
While a great hot dog requires a tasty foundation- because no amount of toppings can overcome a bland frank, which makes Lucky Dogs only fit for drunk food- the variety of toppings can make or break a great hot dog joint. The best, like Crif Dog and the Dover Grill, mate great dogs with great toppings. I regretted not trying the Black Angus, because I think Tommy's inspired topping combos would taste even better on a big slab of beef.

Hot Dog Tommy's will require further exploration to see how high they sit on the Hot Dog Hierarchy, but I have a feeling the Dover Grill has some stiff competition from South Jersey. Tommy definitely wins on personality- with the goofy hat, sharp if corny wit, and ebullient pleasantry that emanates from his hot dog stall, a trip to Cape May county must be topped off with a few of his pups. Take the big menu and pore over it:
I wish I'd tried the Chippy - hot pepper relish, onions and crumbled potato chips- or the Messy Bessy with BBQ sauce and cheese. It's a place worth a second (or third) trip, so next time I'm down this far south, I'll be stopping to say hi to Tommy.

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2 comments:

firecracker said...

hotdogs and taters are and excellent breakfast...IMO.

Jay Amabile said...

those selections sound amazing. Next time I'm in Cape May I'll go there.

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