For as often as I drive through Birmingham, I had no idea it was a hot dog town. It wasn’t until Serious Eats began their search for America’s best hot dog that I realized what a goldmine I was missing. When covering the Southern region of the United States, Serious Eats listed two Birmingham institutions, Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs and Gus’s Hot Dogs. A little more googling revealed the friendly rivalry between the two downtown eateries and, in their usual, fastidious manner, The Southern Foodways Alliance’s interview with the owner of Gus’s Hot Dogs, George Nasiakos. It was painfully obvious, I had a lot of ground to cover on the subject of Birmingham hot dogs.
With this new found information on hot dogs, the last time I passed through Birmingham I was determined to try one or two for myself. It was simply a matter of where to go first. Exiting off I-20, I soon found parking in downtown Birmingham and saw Gus’s Hot Dogs just down the street.
Gus’s isn’t a large building; with little more than an open kitchen and two small sections of counter space, there isn’t much room to spare. It’s a two man operation at Gus’s. The owner and head cook, Goerge Nasiakos mans the grill while a second takes the orders and packs things to go. After a quick introduction to the Gus’s menu and a short wait, I had my order in hand.
As far as I can tell, Gus’s is known for their special sauce and their slaw dog. I decided to save the slaw dog for another time and start with a classic chili cheese dog instead.
Starting with a Kent Quality dog from the Evans Meat Company, this frank had been griddled to perfection, saddled with a slice of melted American cheese, mustard onions, and crowned with a smoky chili. On its own, the chili wasn’t anything special but when topping a Gus’s hot dog, it was brilliant.
With each hot dog costing less than two dollars, a second dog was a foregone conclusion. I went with the special for my next dog and it came dressed all the way.
Even though the sauerkraut was most visible difference, the real highlight of this dog was the special sauce topping.
Oddly sweet, it made for an interesting combination with the sauerkraut.
Curious about the burger side of the Gus’s menu, I ordered a classic cheeseburger to see what sort of Greek accented spin Gus's put on the American standard.
When Gus’s says “dressed all the way” they mean it. This burger was overflowing with toppings, although the unmelted cheese looked a bit sloppy.
Gus’s Hot Dogs may have a simple menu, one side for hot dogs and one for burgers & sandwiches, but with quality griddle cooked hot dogs and an alluring special sauce, I can see why Gus’s has become a Birmingham landmark. I still have a lot of hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches to try at Gus’s, not to mention his competitor down the street, but if this one visit was any indication, I’ll have a delicious time eating my way through the menu at Gus’s.
Gus’s Hot Dogs Address & Information
1915 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203 // 205.251.4540