Hot Diggity Dog logo. Photo by Ian KeelHot Diggity Dogs logo. Photo by Ian KeelMugdha Mokashi - Contributor

The unmistakably “hip” part of Birmingham is Avondale, which serves food on the decidedly funkier and fresh side. So I wasn’t surprised to find a gourmet hot dog joint nestled at the hip of Fancy’s on Fifth. This eatery is hidden behind an unassuming door next to a cheerful cartoon-y sign that reads “Hot Diggity Dogs.” When you open the door, you are greeted by a mysterious staircase and no signs of life. This changes quickly, because the loft of the building (directly over another Avondale favorite, Fancy’s on Fifth) is home to a laid-back, lively joint.

Eating at Hot Diggity Dogs feels like a scene out of a TV show—it’s a quintessential “hang out” spot, with exclusively barstool seating and exposed brick walls. An enormous smiling cartoon hot dog in an Uncle Sam-esque top hat graces the artsy wall. It’s very pop art and very, very new-age Birmingham. The crew behind the counter cook and serve up the dogs fast-food style, and are always joking around with each other and the customers. It’s a friendly, how-do-you-do sort of place that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Now, of course, the dogs. How are they? In a word, refreshing. Each hot dog is in the $4 to $6 range, with fried potato-y sides available for an extra $2. While that is a good amount of money to pay for an average hot dog, the price is made up for by a slew of thoughtfully-chosen toppings. They have a Korean-inspired dog, an overflowing chili dog, and several inspired varieties (pimento cheese dog? Hot dog with tortilla chips?). Also, the hot dogs themselves are quality, though “quality” and “all-American hot dog” are often paradoxical in and of themselves.

I tried a vegetarian take on my dining experience, and was pleasantly surprised by the options I had. For one, any hot dog on the menu can be substituted for a tofu dog; also, the meatless dog actually held the texture and consistency of a normal hot dog. My tofu dog of choice was the classic Birmingham dog, featuring mustard, onion, kraut and sauce. The tofu hot dog itself was mildly flavored, with all the texture of a nice hot dog wrapped in an interesting toasted sandwich bread “bun”. It was slathered in a zesty red sauce and piled high with delicious sauerkraut. The star of the plate was finely chopped red onion sprinkled throughout, which kept each bite interesting.

I finished off with classic tater tots — nothing special, but familiarly yummy. Overall, it was a quick fun meal that cost just over $6. Not particularly filling or incredibly memorable, but definitely worth a try. Hot Diggity Dogs is a cute addition to a bustling foodie neighborhood, and a great find for college students looking for a quick bite.
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