Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 194: Eat at the Dew Drop Inn in Mobile

Several years ago, the Alabama Tourism Department came out with a great “best of” list called “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die,” and that list included the famous hot dogs at the Dew Drop Inn in Mobile, Ala. I’ve had the Dew Drop Inn on my “bucket list” ever since, and I finally got to scratch it off my list last Thursday morning.

I’d been by the Dew Drop Inn several times in the past with plans to stop, but as chance would have it, the restaurant was closed when I went by in the past, but this wasn’t the case last Thursday morning. My wife and I happened to be in Mobile, and we were more than a little pleased to see the Dew Drop Inn open for business at 11:15 a.m.

Even though I had hot dogs on my mind, I didn’t fail to notice the hanging sign outside the building that says that the Dew Drop Inn is Mobile’s oldest restaurant. Before I get to the hot dogs, here’s what the back of the menu had to say about the restaurant’s interesting history – “THE DEW DROP INN STORY: The Dew Drop Inn has been a Mobile institution since 1924, when George L. Widney opened a little sandwich shop at 156 South Ann St. near Government Street. Legend has it that Widney’s restaurant offered the city its first taste of a revolutionary new sandwich called the hot dog. Widney was pronounced HOT DOG KING in a 1939 Mobile Press Register article.

“About 1930, Mr. George opened another location on Old Shell Road across from Old Shell Elementary School. A year later, he sold the restaurant to Arthur Reid, who relocated in 1937 to its present location further away from the school in order to get a beer license. Curb boy Jimmy Edgar was recruited to be Reid’s business partner.

“After Reid died in 1966, Edgar purchased the Dew Drop Inn in 1967 and remodeled it. (The remodeling job was so successful that it hasn’t been updated since.) Shortly thereafter, Edgar decided to sell his business to George Hamlin. Edgar’s advice? “Don’t change nothing. You don’t change the dining room or the help. Don’t change the hot dog or nothin’.” And Hamlin didn’t.

“The Dew Drop is a constant in a changing world, where you can almost count on a crowd, on seeing someone you know, and being served consistently good food. Among the Dew Drop’s many fans is Jimmy Buffett, who grew up in Mobile. He writes in his ParrotHead Handbook that his “burger lust was formulated” at the restaurant, which he lists among the country’s best cheeseburgers. So drop in anytime and experience a delicious taste of Mobile history as you enjoy our southern style home cooking, prepared from recipes that have been tried and true for 90 some odd years.”

Two "World Famous" Dew Drop Inn Hot Dogs.
The Dew Drop Inn has a long menu with a wide selection of items, but I was focused on the restaurant’s specialty, the “World Famous Dew Drop Inn Hot Dog.” At $2.95 each, these hot dogs feature homemade chili, sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup and a pickle slice. I ordered two of them with a side of onion rings and a Pepsi. To say that this was probably the best two hot dogs I’ve ever eaten would be an understatement. You’ll just have to try them for yourself to see what I mean.

If you’re interested in trying some of these great hot dogs for yourself, visit the Dew Drop Inn at 1808 Old Shell Road in Mobile. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’re closed most holidays and the Fourth of July. If you want to call in an order, their number is 251-473-7872.

In the end, how many of you have ever eaten at the Dew Drop Inn in Mobile? Did you try the hot dogs? What did you think about the experience? What other bucket list-worthy restaurants and foods would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

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