Bottomfeeder: Cheese & Chong

Corn dogs at a laid-back Fremont bodega.

Here's what not to do at Marketime: Treat it as the sort of store where you bring in a long list and buy most everything on it. You've heard Whole Foods referred to as "Whole Paycheck," right? If you attempt to fill your cupboards at Marketime, better make sure you've got a payday loan or a sizable credit-card limit to augment that take-home.

See, while Marketime might look like a small, independent Safeway, its true intent has never been to be counted among the big-boy ranks. Rather, it's a classic neighborhood corner store (far more substantial than a mini-mart, granted), the sort of place where you swing in to grab a cold six-pack of beer (they have a killer selection), a pack of Mentos, some TP when the last roll runs out, and maybe something from the deli.

Check that: Definitely something from the deli, and that something should be the jalapeño cheese corn dog.

July is National Hot Dog Month, where franks and buns take center stage, insofar as a grill is a stage. But dogs on sticks would be lucky to get invited to the cookout in the first place—they're the Rodney Dangerfields of the wiener wilderness.

Amazingly, Marketime's jalapeño cheese dogs cost the same as its plain corn dogs. Barring an allergy to either jalapeños or cheese, why anyone would pass on such a luscious bonus is unfathomable. Besides, the flavor infusion is subtle. It still tastes like a corn dog, only enhanced, sort of the way the roided-up (or was it just flaxseed?) version of San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds still did plenty of things similar to the perfectly good pre-cheat version of Barry Bonds, only slightly better, farther, and faster.

But Marketime is more than just a great place to score premium corn dogs and beer. Fremont, in case you haven't noticed, has changed a bit over the past 20 years. Marketime really hasn't, at least in terms of its staff's mellow vibe, ever-present scruff, sub-casual dress code, and crocheted headwear. If it's ever legal to sell marijuana off the shelf, the Dinty Moore on aisle 2 would be shoved aside quicker than you can say "ganja."

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