Dune Dog 2OK, lucky you. You’re in Jupiter, Florida. It feels several degrees cooler than where you came from because you’re on the East Coast in Palm Beach County with all those yummy breezes off the ocean, and a few thunderstorms in the afternoon to bring the temps down to reasonable. You’ve been to the beach, are slightly pink, and now it’s time for lunch.

Head for the Dune Dog Café, a laid-back old Florida funky beach shack, where you can wear your flip-flops and your bathing suit and nobody will bat an eyelash. Except it’s not on the beach. It’s not even near the beach. In fact it’s smack up against Alternate A1A in Jupiter, along the railroad tracks in a semi-industrial section that includes equipment rental, a tire store, and a bait and tackle shop.

Dune Dog 1Still, people are lining up at the door. Wait. There is no door. They’re lining up at the open air covered deckish sort of thing for a seat at a picnic table where you can feel the vibrations of the Florida East Coast train as it roars through town.

The family-friendly place is famous for its hot dogs served on a grilled bun like you’d get with a Cape Cod lobster roll. There are nine different kinds of Hebrew National dogs, from the Naked Dog  ($2.75) to Leroy Brown’s Junkyard Dog ($4.50), a foot-long topped with chili, cheese, diced onions and Dot’s Pushcart spicy tomato and onion sauce.

Dune Dog 3But the menu doesn’t stop there. The ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, the gorgonzola salad is huge and a complete meal when topped with chicken, shrimp or dolphin, and the Great White Reuben (grilled fish on rye with Swiss, kraut and 1,000-island dressing) is a house favorite. On Thursday night the lobsters (so fresh their friends and relatives don’t even know they’re gone) are an unbelievable $14.95. And don’t miss the clam chowder, so rich and clam-filled, it rivals anything you’ve had in New England. There’s lots more, something for everybody, and you can grab a seat at the bar for a draft beer and a clam strip appetizer if that’s all you’ve got time for.

So, come on down. The beach is beautiful, the fish is fresh, and a great lunch or dinner is just back over the drawbridge along the RR tracks.

Dune Dog Café: 775 Alt. Highway A1A, Jupiter FL 33458, (561-744-6667)


Bootsie Lucas

Bootsie Lucas is the pseudonym for an Atlanta writer who is a former editor and reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Macon Telegraph.