Legendary eatery offers great food at little cost


Students do not have to travel very far to get a taste of Tampa history. 

Located behind the Busch Garden’s parking lot, Mel’s Hot Dogs has been a staple in Tampa since 1973. 

For more than 40 years, the hot dog haven has attracted a mixed crowd from all over the Bay. Though known for its Chicago-style hotdogs, the old-fashioned, modest bistro has a menu filled with hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, sausages and even vegetarian-friendly options. 

With 17 different hot dogs on the menu, patrons may have a tough time choosing. 

The Chicago Style Hot Dog has the biggest offering of toppings, which may lead taste buds to go into overdrive. The celery salt may be a little much for some, especially mixed with the poppy seed bun. The chili packs a lot of flavor, making the Chili Dog the perfect choice on the list.

With all of the hot dog choices, there are a few
choices that may get
mistakenly overlooked. 

Sure, there are numerous fast food burger joints that line the streets, but Mel’s offers an Angus Beef Burger fully loaded with every condiment imaginable. 

It is not for those who want to go green, as a bunch of napkins will be needed, but every bite makes it completely worth it. The Veggie Burger is a great match for the Angus Burger for vegetarian customers.

The entrees are not the only things that the restaurant excels at. 

If patrons choose the basket option, they are loaded up with a basket of fries and either a side of baked beans or coleslaw. The fries have a taste reminiscent of ballpark fries, and the baked beans trump the coleslaw. The coleslaw is a little more bitter than most, but the baked beans have a sweet, slight smoky flavor with hints of molasses.

If patrons opt out of the basket option, onion rings are a definite must. The rings’ batter is unmatched and is quite inexpensive for the amount one gets.

Service is polite and accommodating. Many time’s the owner, Mel Lohn, will jump behind a register to help his staff out. Patrons should bring their sense of humor, as Lohn is known for cracking one-liners to bring a smile to his customer’s faces.

The atmosphere is ideal for those seeking nostalgia, as it is decorated like a ’50s diner, Though it is a family friendly atmosphere, it is an ideal hangout for college students as well, offering bottled and draft beer and free Wi-Fi.

Though the building could use a touch of maintenance, with the delicious food and friendly service, it is not hard to see why Mel’s has become a Tampa staple.