Go for the food: Alaska

Reindeer dogs from Anchorage’s cranky hot dog vendor

 
 
Spicy reindeer dogs are the hands-down crowd favorite at Michael Anderson’s hot dog stand in downtown Anchorage, Alaska.
Spicy reindeer dogs are the hands-down crowd favorite at Michael Anderson’s hot dog stand in downtown Anchorage, Alaska.
Rachel D'Oro / AP

Associated Press

There’s no shortage of hot dog stands hawking that spicy, oh-so-Alaska treat, the reindeer dog, in downtown Anchorage. But only one of them has consistently long lines.

M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs is owned by a guy with an attitude and seven types of tasty grilled dogs — including one with a little bit of Rudolph in it. The reindeer meat, too lean to hold together alone, is mixed with pork and beef. It’s the hands-down crowd favorite, every bite delivering a pleasing crunchy pop.

This is Michael Anderson’s hot dog stand, a mobile feast beneath a big green umbrella near the corner of Fourth Avenue and F Street. He’s been selling dogs downtown for 22 years during Alaska’s summer tourist season, and he’s such a draw that an adjacent competitor started using a green umbrella too.

Just remember: Anderson has been called the “hot dog Nazi” more than once, a reference to the “soup Nazi” on the old Seinfeld TV series. The soup Nazi was a cranky soup vendor with lots of arbitrary rules, and Anderson has his own rules of engagement posted on a sign: End all cellphone talk at the counter, end all conversations with other diners when it’s your turn, wait to order until “the wienie behind the stand asks for it,” and finally, step to the right “and pay for this abuse.” Signed: “XX00. M.A.”

In other words, there’s no time for indecision when you deal with this no-nonsense proprietor. Local customers probably make up 80 percent of Anderson’s clientele as they grab a dog for lunch while taking a break from downtown office jobs, and they’ll warn tourists what to expect. But many locals also think his is the best of several carts on the avenue, precisely because of his antics.

“If you think I’m mean, that’s fine because it’ll get you through the line quicker,” Anderson said. “Then they can get their food and go back to work.”

He’s also known for playing games. On Maybe Mondays, maybe he’ll be there or maybe he won’t, giving Facebook followers an early heads-up about absences. Toppings Tuesday will offer regular customers a surprise garnish, such as sauteed garlic and bell peppers. And on Fridays, you can expect to see him in a kilt.

Besides the reindeer dogs, he offers beef, Polish, Italian sausage, Louisiana hotlinks, bratwurst and chicken linguica, a type of smoke-cured sausage. One of his specialty toppings is onions caramelized in Coke. Meal combos with chips and a drink are $7.75; the dogs alone are $6. There are no tables, but there’s plenty of room to stand around, plus steps and planters to sit on.

There’s even a real dog at the hot dog stand: Vivo, a 16-month-old lab-shepherd mix. He gets one beef dog a day, reminding Anderson with a little bark if he forgets.

Anderson has a suggestion box, too – or at least that’s what it says on the nearby trashcan.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

  • The travel troubleshooter

    I was charged an extra $134 for my car because I was an hour late

    Q: I have a complaint about my recent car rental experience at Indianapolis International Airport. I’ve called Hertz and Hotwire, the online travel agency I booked this through, and didn’t get answers that make sense.

  •  
European cab drivers, like this happy one in Turkey, only expect you to round up your fare when you give them a tip.

    Travelwise

    Tips on tipping in Europe

    Here’s a tip: Don’t stress over tipping.

  •  
The living room restaurant Caro Kookt, run by Caro van der Meulen, in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. 2014.

    Dining

    Enjoying a home-cooked meal in a stranger’s home

    The square wooden table fits just beneath the windows of the townhouse near the Anne Frank House. Tourists and locals both stroll along the stone street outside, heading toward the busy cafes of Amsterdam’s Jordan district. The dozen dinner guests inside are oblivious, sipping a lusty local wine and swapping get-to-know-you stories.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category