The Hot Dog business in West Virginia is tough since most every locally owned restaurant includes some kind of hot dog on its menu. Perhaps this is the reason that a lot of promising HDJs have closed in the last few years. Whatever the reason, we feel it is our duty to report the casualties from time to time. Here is our most recent list of formerly great HDJs that have bitten the dust:
Monday, March 20, 2017
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
This little restaurant, that has recently changed ownership (and its name) is hidden back in a little cove alongside Route 34 near Hurricane High School. You will probably smell it before you see it, because out front is a high-capacity smoker that seems to be always emitting a large quantity of delicious smelling hickory smoke.
Not knowing that hot dogs were on the menu when I stopped, I had set my taste buds for pulled-pork. But since I rarely get to Teays Valley at lunch time and didn't know when I'd be back this way to do a review, I thought I might as well get the hot dog special, especially since it was called the "WV Special" and the ingredients were listed correctly. At $2.25 a dog, these would be on the pricey side, but would they be worth it?
So I ordered the special, straight up, and in a flash my hot dogs had been delivered to my table. Honestly, at first sight I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of slaw on top of the hot dogs, and a little turned off by the onions that were chopped a little too coarsely for my tastes. But all of that prejudice vanished when I took the first bite.
OK, first, the chili: Yes, I think I will take a tub of that to go. I will eat it on hot dogs, spaghetti, heck, on saltine crackers if I have to. This stuff is tasty. Rich, complex and perfect texture. A pronounced chili-powder taste, but not too spicy otherwise. Just delicious.
The onions were mild enough that the large size didn't hurt, and the slaw was such a beautiful texture that they kind of sunk into it and didn't fall off like coarse onions are often wont to do.
And there was the weenie. OK, you know that we usually get all googly about weenies around here, but this weenie made the whole dog better because it had obviously spent some time hanging out in the smoke house out front. The smoky-grilled goodness took this hot dog from being really good to Five Weenie great.
These hot dogs are so good, it's probably a good thing that I don't get to Teays Valley at lunch time very often. But then again, there's always dinner...
Posted by Stanton at 4:58 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2016
On a nice Spring day, there's nothing like a good hot dog served fresh from a cart along a tree-lined street.
That's why I was psyched to find this new hot dog cart sitting on the corner of Capitol and Lee Streets, just outside of Davis Park. How could there be a better location to enjoy a hot dog? Before I allowed myself, though, to get too excited, I recalled past hot dogs I had found at downtown Charleston street vendors. Many people have tried, and almost all have failed, to deliver a good WVHD from the challenging conditions posed by a cart. Would Super Weenie be different?
I had a good feeling when I noticed that the menu had "Chili - Slaw- Onions - Mustard" segregated in a special place at the top. When I asked what "everything" was, I was confidently told the proper ingredients for a true West Virginia Hot Dog. I also was really, really impressed that while Super Weenie had ketchup on its list of possible toppings, it was at the very bottom of the list and in a very small font. Excellent.
My optimism increased when I read that the weenies were Nathan's Famous, and it swelled again when I was asked if I would like my bun steamed! Oh, boy, would I ever! But how is that even possible on a cart? Ingenuity, that's how (I'll leave it to you, dear reader, to find out for yourself how they do it.)
As if I could get any more optimistic, I nevertheless was when the lid came off of the chili container and the rich and complex aroma met my olfactory organ. And seeing the texture of the chili as it was spooned onto the hot dog also added to to my ever-heightening expectations; it looked simply perfect.
Alas, the slaw's appearance did not inspire further confidence, being a little too chunky, But when the finished hot dog was finally delivered into my waiting hands, the heft, softness and aroma combined into a multi-sensory delight.
Tasting the hot dog did not disappoint. All of the visuals translated to taste as I expected, although the chili could stand a bit more spice. Perhaps the most remarkable thing for a cart hot dog was that everything was the perfect temperature: Each ingredient was exactly right, the weenie and chili were hot and the slaw was cold. The only part of this hot dog that needs improvement is the slaw: The texture is far too coarse and the flavor is a bit bland. This should be an easy fix, and for a five-day old business, we can only expect things to improve moving forward. Perhaps by the end of summer, Super Weenie will be truly super.
For now, we're still going to award Super Weenie a very good Four Weenie rating. Better slaw will definitely bump it a half-point.
You will be able to find Super Weenie on the same corner on most nice days for the rest of the Summer and into the Fall, and you can follow them on Facebook here.
Posted by Stanton at 1:30 PM
Monday, May 16, 2016
So we went to Not Frank's Pizza. Not "Frank's Pizza", "Not Frank's Pizza." And not for pizza, but for hot dogs.
If you found that sentence confusing, you can read about the way this restaurant got its unusual name here. And then come back here to find out about their hot dogs.
Now for the record, we did not go to Not Frank's original Montgomery location, but the new on that is located in the old Twin Hills Restaurant in Shrewsbury. To confuse matter more, the Twin Hills sign is still on the west side of the building, so perhaps this Not Frank's should be known as "Not Twin Hills," but that is a business decision they need to make. We're here to talk about hot dogs.
The bun was one of those Yankee New England Split Top Lobster Roll buns that have been invading West Virginia for some time now (and about which we are going to be having a conversation real soon because the WV Hot Dog Public needs educated - again). It was grilled and tasted OK, but as always added way too much bulk to the finished hot dog.
Overall, the hot dog was satisfying. Nothing to right home about, but certainly not disappointing. We'll award it a 3.5 Weenie rating. With better onions and bun it could be a 4.
Posted by Stanton at 10:55 AM
Monday, May 02, 2016
I've been trying to get to Big Joe's for a while, not for hot dogs but for their Pastrami on Rye; a sandwich I had heard about my whole life but have never tasted. As far as I know, Big Joe's is the only restaurant in Charleston - maybe in West Virginia - that serves this New York staple food, and furthermore, they make their own pastrami on the premises. I had to try it, and when I finally made it in I found that they also had hot dogs, so I had to try those too. I should have stopped with the pastrami.
So should Big Joe's. They should stop offering hot dogs. Never serve another one. Ever. Let me explain:
The first indication that this was not good to be a good hot dog experience was when I saw cheese as a standard topping. I of course, deleted the dairy and went ahead boldly, thinking that at least the rest of the standard ingredients were correct - chili, slaw, mustard and onions. But then...
My hot dogs arrived and I immediately recognized a few potential problems: First, the bun had been grilled to within and inch of its life, and was no longer able to hold the weenie and other toppings. When I picked up my first hot dog it fell apart on the way to my mouth, and the second one - still on my plate - fell over when the first one was moved spilling its toppings all over the plate. Easily the messiest two hot dogs I have ever eaten. And I will remind you, I have eaten a lot of hot dogs.
When the "chili" spilled out (and I use quotation marks to sarcastically point out that it was pseudo-chili), from the looks and taste of it, it was nothing more than slightly browned ground beef. Tasteless.
Then there is the "slaw" (yes, there are those sarcastic quotes again), that seemed to be the cabbage portion of sauerkraut with nothing else added to it. It was long, stringy threads of cabbage with hardly any flavor.
There were large hunks of red onions on top of the stringy slaw.
The mustard and weenie were fine.
Big Joe's gets 1 Weenie, and that might be generous.
Posted by Stanton at 2:36 PM
Monday, April 04, 2016
Friday, April 01, 2016
The WV Hot Dog Blog has gone on record numerous times about the way weenies are prepared. While we prefer grilled weenies, we are not too awfully concerned when hot dog joints use other methods to heat their meat. We've had excellent hot dogs whose weenies just came out of a hot bath, and even the dreaded roller dogs can't hold an otherwise good hot dog down. Generally speaking, we take a "when in Rome" attitude about how weenies are cooked.
|Chicken-Fried Hot Dog|
We were so impressed by the Chicken-fried Hot Dog at the Hot Dog factory that we made plans for a return trip. We're thinking of going back again next year on the same day, because April 1 seems like the perfect day to have a foolish-sounding hot dog like this.
Posted by Stanton at 12:01 AM