Hot Dogs in Tampa
We went there last Sat. It was OK. Not mind blowing and pretty expensive for what you got. I got a Chicago dawg and it definitely was not on a poppy seed roll. My husband got the Tampa Bay dog. I don't see us going back. I also got a milkshake that was pretty disappointing.
Had to edit to say we ate at Twinz
I noticed recently that Steak & Shake has added a Chicago hot dog to their menu, and I was surprised that it was really on a poppy seed bun and had the neon green Chicago relish- the whole experience wasn't bad for a chain, hundreds of miles from the windy city. They are "making an effort." I am north of Tampa a couple of hours and not real familiar with Steak & Shakes' locations down there, but they have to be around. (And milkshakes? Always top of the line malteds there!)
When I go through Tampa, sometimes I will visit Mels, and it is also OK. No complaints. I think some folks really enjoy the tradition of giving the counter people a fake celebrity name to announce when your order is ready.
I have been to Meaner Weiner. It was fine. I don't think their aspirations extend much beyond serving the late night SOHO crowd. I asked for my polish charred and they really had no idea what I was talking about. I thought Frankie's was pretty good; I was sorry to see it go. The couple of times I went to Mel's it didn't do much for me, but I suppose it is time to give it another shot.
I recommend a place not mentioned in the article: the Chicago Grill and Dog House at 7733 Ulmerton Road, Largo. The reviews I have read indicate that they have moved from their East Bay location.
Also, I have to say, former food truck owner Jeff Dunn's characterization in the article of "sport peppers" as bland and Chicago poppyseed buns as "stale" surprises me. I've had a few bland sport peppers, but not many--fiery is usually more what they're like, and I don't find Chicago dog poppyseed buns as routinely stale.