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Eating with Emma

Hot diggity dog! July is National Hot Dog Month

Bite into the best buns and dogs in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

This Main Street one-stop-dog-shop is bun in a million.
This Main Street one-stop-dog-shop is bun in a million.
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My mother has not always been a fan of the boys I chose to partner up with (and as usual, mother knows best).

My high school boyfriend sported fake teeth after getting knocked out one too many times during hockey games. He was also on a first-name basis with the local cops. My college boyfriend broke up with me while I was packing for a trip to Disney World with my entire family. Plus, the number of times he cheated on me was greater than all the galas thrown during a Sarasota season.

So when I went from zero to hero with my forever boyfriend, I think it was the proudest I ever made my mom. When he brought her flowers, prosecco and her favorite toilet paper (Charmin) just a week after meeting her, she knew I had learned quite well from my mistakes.

Other than their love for me, my mom and now husband have bonded over their joy for Johnny Walker (black) on the rocks and their admiration for Idris Alba. Most importantly, they have joined forces and created the "we hate hot dogs" task force.

But this July, with it being National Hot Dog Month, I am determined to get them both to down some dogs. Here are the best spots in town to do just that.

Tony's Chicago Beef Co.

6569 Superior Ave., Sarasota; 941-922-7979;

Gulf Gate or Wrigley Field? At Tony's Chicago Beef Co. it's hard to spot the difference.
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Let's Be Frank: If I'm getting my mom to eat a hot dog, I know it's gonna be the Chicago Dawg ($6.29). Served up just like they do at Wrigley Field, Tony's prepares this "is-it-a-sandwich or is-it-not-a-sandwich?" in a poppyseed bun with all the Midwestern fixings: yellow mustard, gorgeous green sweet pickle relish, chopped white onion, tomato slices, a delightful dill pickle spear, pickled sport peppers and celery salt.

You're the Bun for Me: To brat, or not to brat, that is the question. The answer? Definitely yes. The Chicago brat ($6.69) comes with kraut on a hot dog bun or, my personal pick, French bread.

Willy-Yums Hotdogs & More

2003 14th St. W., Bradenton;

Willy-Yums, in business since 2017, makes the best (and most unqiue!) dogs in Bradenton.
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Let's Be Frank: Don't be a loser, be a wiener and find where this local food truck is parked to get your dawg on. The list of these all-beef hot dogs ($5 each) will have you relishing foodie heaven, but the chili and cheese is frankly the top dog. However, if you aren't feeling like a heavy doggie, go ahead and get the classic New York style. I can just picture my dad snacking on this, humming Frank Sinatra and saying, "I'll never get why your mom hates hot dogs."

You're the Bun for Me: Next time I head to Willy's, I am crushing a Carolina slaw dog made with mustard and homemade coleslaw. My eyes are on the prize and the prize lays between buns found in this Bradenton food truck.

Pacific Counter

4942 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-217-6016; 11581 FL-70, Suite 109, Bradenton, 941-739-8039;

Choose from Hawaiian, kimchi, banh mi or Cali dogs at Pacific Counter.
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Let's Be Frank: What do you get when a girl who loves food walks into a poke bowl and burrito bar? A newfound love for Hawaiian dogs ($5.99). Never judge a restaurant by its vibe, right? I wouldn't have expected to add this dog to the list, but ever since my first bite, I can't stop thinking about it. After eating this dog smothered with Hawaiian salsa, sesame seeds and chili aoili, I now know the true meaning of aloha.

You're the Bun for Me: My oh my, the banh mi dog ($5.99) is the runner-up wiener for me. Packed with cucumber, jalapeno, daikon radishes, cilantro and avocado lime deliciousness, the flavors flawlessly fold into one another in a fantastic way that foodies only dream of.

Joey D's Chicago Style Eatery & Pizzeria

3811 Kenny Drive, Sarasota, 941-378-8900; 6401 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, 941-753-8900; 945 10th St. E., Palmetto, 941-417-2106; 750 U.S. 41 Bypass N., Venice, 941-786-1300;

Family owned and operated since 1994, Joey D's brings the midwest to the Gulf Coast.
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Let's Be Frank: I was raised by two proud Chicago natives. When we went to Madison Square Garden as kids we were not there rooting for the Knicks, baby, we were rooting for MJ, Scottie and Dennis. Our answering machine message when I was growing up was, "Da Bulls, Da Bears, Da Burke's aren't home right now so leave a message." So when I stumbled upon the original Chicago-style hot dog ($6.09) at Joey's, I felt instantly connected to my Chicago roots. I am determined to have my husband eat one as he watches the Cubs beat the Guardians in the next World Series ... again.

You're the Bun for Me: Come one, come all, it's chow time. Chicago combo, AKA Da Chief ($12.99) is dished out with thinly sliced beef on top of a tasty Italian sausage and sweet or hot peppers.


1544 Main St., Sarasota; 941-260-5835;

What did the hot dog say when it crossed the finish line? “I’m a wiener!”
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Let's Be Frank: With over 13 signature dog options ($6.99) to choose from and four types of dogs (100% beef, beef/pork, red hot or vegan) dog-lovers are surely to fall in love with the array of samplings here. Choose from Memphis style with beautiful bacon jam, shredded cheese and green onion or the Philly with sautéed onions, mushrooms and Swiss. 

You're the Bun for Me: Animal rights group PETA ranked Sarasota's own Doggystyle as one of the top 10 best vegan options in the country. Their pick? The Chicago Hot ($6.49), where you sub standard relish for hot pepper relish, has been named one of the best! 



Emma Burke Jolly

Emma Burke Jolly has worked at Observer Media Group since 2018 as the digital fulfillment specialist. Originally from Connecticut, this Gulf Coast transplant loves being by the water, reminiscing about what Longboat Key looked like in 1990, navigating life with her husband and their two Maine Coon cats, and sharing her foodie findings with you.

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