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Okay, so this isn't a fancy place with gourmet food.  But it is a wonderful Bay Area tradition.  I'm not exactly sure how long Mel (and there really is a Mel) has been serving up his Vienna pure beef dogs but I have been inhaling his tube steaks there since 1988.

Mel specializes in Chicago style hotdogs and they come in a number of different sizes.  My preference is the Mighty Mel, the mutha of all dogs there.

There She Is -- The Mighty Mel!

Amazingly, and this must be something relatively new because I can't remember seeing it on the menu in years gone by, they even offer vegetarian sandwiches now!

They've got great onion rings and fries to go along with your weenies and you can chase it all down with a soda or a couple of cold brewskys.  Somehow, however, I'm too full on Mel's great food to load up on beer.

Above and beyond the all American favorite, they also serve Polish sausage, corn dogs, bratwursts and if you must insist on keeping it healthy, grilled chicken sandwiches.  But in all my visits there, I can't remember anybody who wasn't snarfing down one of Mel's signature hot dogs.  I see from his web site that they even offer low fat hotdogs now!

I've known some people who, while visiting the Mouse House in Orlando, have driven the 80 minute drive to Tampa just to enjoy Mel's dogs.  And if you're going to be taking your family to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Mel's is just a short distance just down the street.

Mel's is a spotlessly clean place with a staff that is all smiles. Traditions like this are hard to come by!

Mel's is located at 4136 E. Busch Blvd. in Tampa.  Reservations are a must.  Just kidding!  But if you need to call them for directions, they're at (813) 985-8000.