UPDATE: TWINZ is re-opening at a MUCH better location, on fletcher and dale mabry. check it out!
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so every week we have a movie night. it’s a group of friends who all come together, go to the theater, see a shitty movie, and then grab some food and discuss why we still go and see all these shitty movies. normally we end up going out somewhere dumb after the movie ends, because our options are limited to whatever is open. but occasionally, we’ll go out to someplace interesting before the movie, so that we can have decent food unspoiled by the awful movie of the week. this week we decided to go ahead and check out someplace new to eat, and afterwards subject ourselves to two hours of painfully slow build up to a climax that at least one of us slept through.
we were to meet at someplace i’d never been before, twinz big city hotdogs on waters near the veterans expressway. i personally chose the place based on 1.) the fact that they have hot dogs and 2.) the fact that “twinz” was spelled with a z, which meant the owners were TOTALLY EXTREME. which i liked. my girlfriend and i got there first, about fifteen minutes early. we noticed that the place was completely empty, besides the employees. hmm. rather than going into the restaurant and being awkward, we instead decided to stay in the car and have pleasant conversation. while we sat out there, we kept getting looks from the employees inside. they wanted us. they wanted us bad. but we were waiting for friends!!! surely they could understand that! …they did not appear to. after another moment, one of owners came out and excitedly asked us if we were actually planning to come in. i told him we were waiting for friends. i was scared.
eventually, my friends arrived. i warned them all that the people inside… they were really looking forward to this. everyone understood. we all went in, and then we were treated to an entire presentation.
he told us everything. EVERYTHING. everything we could want to know about their menu. he mentioned the many different types of hot dogs they serve, hailing from different cities around the country (“big” cities, if you will…), he mentioned the tampa dog, a creation of their very own, he mentioned their different flavored wings, he mentioned their “sweet pot” (which i initially assumed was marijuana, but soon discovered was sweet potato fries), and he spoke of their mighty “twinz bacon burger dog”, and warned us not to order it because it was too damn big. we were overwhelmed. and some of us were aroused.
they basically said we could do whatever the hell we wanted with the place as far as seating was concerned, so my friend and i went straight to work on constructing a giant square table from the smaller square tables they had in the restaurant, in order to intimidate other possible guests at the restaurant. and then we ordered.
it was difficult for me to decide what to get. at first i was torn between hamburgers and hot dogs, tempted by the owner’s ominous warning, but i decided the hot dogs were their main dish, so i went with that. but then what kind? they offer, amongst others, new york style, chili cheese, bacon cheddar, west virginia style(??), their signature tampa, and chicago. chicago. yeah. i had to do chicago. it’s simply the king of hot dogs, the most opulent and impressive. the god. hot god. and then of course i wanted some wings.
they were out of wings.
devastated as i was by this, i jumped on what i saw as an opportunity, and replaced my side order of wings with a side order of hamburger. awww yeah. but there is much food to discuss, and my order only represents a sliver of what was had. here. let me show you.
my friend ordered their signature tampa dog, along with their garlic fries. now, being a tampa food blog, you’d expect me to have ordered the tampa dog. i know, right? but i did not. and let me explain why, in one word: mayonnaise. yeah. there’s mayo on this hot dog. and that grossed me out. additionally, it also includes spicy brown mustard, bbq sauce, coleslaw, onions, BACON, and potato sticks. and it’s not a hot dog, it’s a sausage. so it does sound awesome… but i was too afraid of the mayo. and the potato sticks kinda weirded me out too. so no tampa dog for me (not this time).
i did, however, help myself to some of the garlic fries. and my god, they were amazing. everything here is made fresh, so all of the fries were perfectly crisp and warm. and then to top it off, they use real garlic. it was like eating garlic bread. except fryier. another friend ordered the garlic parmesan fries, which were even more amazing. the perfect balance of garlic and parmesan, fresh and delicious, and not too much of either flavor. there was never a point when i felt grossed out by garlic/parmesan nasty mouth. which is totally a thing.
my girlfriend and i split an order of the sweet potato fries, and even though they had previously been described to us, we had no idea what we were in for. this may have been the best side dish in a fast food setting that i’ve ever had. they are incredible. crisp sweet potato waffles, coated in a sweet honey cinnamon glaze. again, it was not overpowering to the point of being disgusting, which is just insane to me because i mean look at those guys!! it looks like it would be way too much to handle. but it was not.
now begins my order. part one was the baby twinz bacon burger dog, which, frustratingly, has no description on the menu (none of the items do, save the four special types of hot dogs listed on the bottom). what is it? some kind of mad hot dog/hamburger hybrid, an abomination unto the lord?!? no. no, the name is a bit misleading, in that it is entirely misleading. it has nothing to do with hot dogs. ): yeah. sorry kids. anyway, it is a badass one pound burger (i got half of that), with bacon, cheese, chipotle mayonnaise, and other toppings on an onion roll. you get your choice of cheese type, and i went with buffalo cheddar. oh yes. and it was pretty fucking delicious. i don’t know whether it was the cheese or the mayo, but something gave it a really nice kick. the toppings were excellent, as was the bun. and the meat was pretty damn good.
now, i’m not going to lie, the meat was not as good as burger monger’s, but it was definitely superior to most places you’ll find a burger around here. on the whole, the burger reminded me of something you’d get at a backyard barbecue, hand formed and with a delicious grilled flavor. i was impressed by it; they are better than five guys, which says a lot. oh, and they are cooked to order if you specify. which i didn’t realize.
and here she is: my beautiful chicago dog. to be quite honest, i did not expect much. every place i’ve had hot dogs from recently has been a huge disappointment (burger monger especially). but these guys got it right. 100%. not only did they hit all the marks technically speaking (mustard, tomatoes, pickles, wacky neon relish, onions, sport peppers, celery salt, on a poppy seed bun), but they did what you HAVE to do to have a good chicago dog – they got a chicago style hot dog. i mean the meat. the tube of meat that is the “dog” itself, is a chicago style dog. and it makes all the difference. outside of mel’s, you don’t get that here. but they even do mel’s one better: for each style of dog, they use the hot dog from that place. so the new york dog uses the classic sabrett brand hot dog. the coney dog uses a kosher beef frank. it’s attention to detail, and a passion to do justice, i’ve never seen anywhere else. this alone had me won over.
for the record, my hot dog itself was excellent. the toppings were top notch, and the meat was exactly what it should be. it’s that perfect blend of flavors unique to a chicago dog. mel’s chicago dog may be a bit better, but the variety offered here blows mel’s out of the water.
oh, and because no one ordered the onion rings, one of the employees brought some out on the house, because he insisted we had to try them.
they, too, were above and beyond any expectation i might have had. they were completely unique; fluffy, soft, and pillowy on the inside, with a light, crisp exterior. i was reminded of donuts my mom used to fry for me, lighter than any donut you’d buy. there was a good batter to onion ratio, so i didn’t feel like all i was eating was onion. the flavor was similar to that of a hush puppy.
all in all, i was overwhelmed by this place. there is so much variety to the menu (even though it’s basically hamburgers and hot dogs), and every single item we had was delicious. by the end of my meal, i had completely forgotten i even wanted wings. they make just about everything themselves. they plan on expanding the menu to include vegan options. they have an entire breakfast menu. amazing. and i haven’t even touched on the customer service! they were beyond attentive. they joked with us, checked in on us, made everything to order, brought out free food (somebody got a free milk shake!!). and they deliver. it’s excruciatingly clear that these people care deeply about their food and their restaurant. true passion, that i’ve not seen anywhere else. the twins themselves come from new york, but they’ve lived in tampa since they were fourteen, and they care about the city as much as they do the food.
it was a great dining experience, and exactly my kind of place. highly recommended.
UPDATE: i returned to twinz! after they had closed down for a period of time, they’ve reopened, and upon my return visit, i was able to sample a whole bunch of awesome food items! including the wings. oh, yes.
i went ahead and got the tampa bay dog. i know, i know, mayo on a dog is gross. but you know what? it was actually really good. the coleslaw and mayonnaise were creamy and sweet, which played well against the savory sausage. the mustard and barbecue sauce all kind of blended into the coleslaw mess, but it was all a good combination. the bacon was a good touch, as were the onions, both providing a bit of crunch and flavor. the potato sticks… i just didn’t feel like they did anything here, but eh. good dog.
the chili cheese fries were delicious, forming into a giant mess i was unable to finish but loved every second of. i imagine this would mirror the chili cheese dog in flavor; if so, i would recommend the chili cheese dog.
and the wings. all the wings here are fried to a crispy perfection, which i enjoy. i began with the traditional wings. for some reason, i always equate “traditional” with buffalo, so i was a bit surprised to be greeted with these. but they were good, despite not fulfilling my initial fantasy. simply fried, they let the wings speak for themselves, which was a nice way to start. they also had a bit of garlic flavor, which was a nice touch.
georgia peach wings. so good. a sweet peach barbecue sauce, with actual grilled peaches on top. really, really good.
and the best of all, the rob & rich. holy crap these are good. spicy/sweet, making use of a hot sauce and the georgia peach sauce, then with blue cheese melted on top. it… it is genius. the strong blue cheese flavor is cut in the melting process, and everything melds together into the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
so their wings are awesome. all the food is awesome. go check them out.