I Think I’m in Love – With a Hot Dog

If you’ve driven down Thomas Drive the last few weeks, chances are you’ve noticed the Tom’s Hot Dogs sign just before the Dive Locker.  I’m sure you’ve been wondering the same as me: “is this the real deal, or just one of those chinese knock-offs?”

It’s the real deal, folks.  And it’s as delicious as ever.

What makes Tom’s special

Tom’s Hot Dogs is native to downtown Panama City.  Their home has been there for more then 15 years.  Tom’s is a local favorite but also a legend that even tourists are no stranger to.  Rated on Tripadvisor as #5 of 96 restaurants in Panama City, they also have a 93% recommend rate and pages of good reviews.  They do hot dogs, and they do ’em good.

The original owner of Tom’s sold to Pam a few years back, but the legend has continued without a hitch.

When asked what makes their dogs so dang delicious, Daric, one of the owners of the Thomas Drive Tom’s replied, “It’s the flat-grill.  Most people boil their dogs, but the flat-grill makes them just the right texture.  If you’ve been to Brooklyn, you’ve had a dirty water dog.”

They steam their buns too.  I’ve never had a hard bun.

The story behind the ‘beach’ Tom’s

A Tom’s on the beach had been something the owner of the original Tom’s had wanted for a while, but the logistics of the addition was something that kept getting in the way.  Who would manage it? Would she have to split her time between two places? Would the original location suffer because of it?

This past off-season, Daric and Pam were having lunch when they realized their opportunity to work together.  How their relationship was defined, at first, wasn’t clear, but they came to an agreement to a franchise of the original to be opened on the beach, owned by Daric and his business partner James.

August 10th, they opened.  And in their first 23 days, Daric was proud to report they were doing approximately 150% better then their projections – just amazing.

The only difference is the fries

That’s it.  The only difference between the original Tom’s and the Tom’s on the beach is the fries.  Specifically, the original Tom’s doesn’t sell them.

Every single item on the menu at the original Tom’s is on the menu at the beach Tom’s.  The Slaw Dog is the same.  The Downtown Dog, the same.  The Special Dog, Chili Dog, the Chili Cheese Slaw Dog – all the same. The slaw you know and love is exactly the same, the chili, the same.  In fact, many of the ingredients (e.g. chili) are still made in town and brought out to the beach daily.

I had a Slaw Dog at the downtown location Thursday, then one on Friday at the Beach location, and they were both identical – and amazing.

Well, there’s one other difference.  The times they are open.  The Beach Tom’s is open from 10 am to 10 pm, daily.  Although they said they’d probably begin shutting down a bit earlier since traffic drops off considerably at 9 pm.


Tom’s is located on the very north part of Thomas Drive, right next to The Dive Locker.

Here is a map link.

One thought on “I Think I’m in Love – With a Hot Dog

  1. What makes Tom’s Special: tradition people grew up eating Tom’s hotdogs and now they have kids and they get to share that childhood memory with them. And I also been told that the great staff makes the experience well worth the wait.


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