Ultimate Hot Dog

By Jay Cridlin
Published June 28, 2007

Mel's Hot Dogs, Tampa

A film crew shooting a television pilot about mom and pop restaurants recently stopped by Mel's Hot Dogs at lunchtime. It would be hard to pick a better time and place to get footage. Every day, hungry workers come from as far away as downtown Tampa just for one of Mel's chili dogs, reuben dogs, bacon cheddar dogs, or Mel's piece de resistance, the slaw dog. The Vienna beef dogs, served on poppy seed buns, snap with each bite, from the Lite Mel (70 percent less fat!) to the Mighty Mel (it weighs a quarter pound!). There's a reason Mel's patrons have sent in photos of themselves in Mel's T-shirts from around the globe (you can find these pictures on the walls at Mel's) - the hot dogs are just that good. Mel's Hot Dogs: 4136 E Busch Blvd., Tampa, (813) 985-8000, www.melshotdogs.com.

How you voted

Mel's Hot Dogs, Tampa: 35%

Coney Island Grill, St. Petersburg: 25%

Skyline Chili, Clearwater/Clearwater Beach: 20%

Bruce's Chicago Dog and Grill House, Largo: 10%

Other: 10%

Legends Field, Tampa: 0%