Located right on Rt. 119 North, this little Dairy Queen has been a mainstay in Clendenin since at least the 1960's. A host of restaurants have come and gone over the years in the vicinity but the Dairy Queen has outlasted them all. Every day at lunch time car loads of hungry oil and gas workers, salesmen, truck drivers and who knows who line up out front to give testimony to the quality of food that lies within. A few chairs scattered along the side of the building and perhaps the tailgate of your truck are the only options for eating on the premises: This is definitely a take out place.
I've been by the place several times since I started this blog but always just passed by because I always assumed that a DQ dog is pretty much a DQ dog wherever you go. But my recent thoughts on the subject and a note from a reader who raved about the hot dogs at the Clendenin DQ made me decide to pay it a visit the next time through town. Well, today was they day I was through town (actually I was only as far as Elkview but decided to journey the extra six miles so I could check out the DQ. It was worth it.)
The first great thing about the hot dogs is that they wrap them up nicely in wax paper. A great start, but I remained skeptical until I unwrapped it: I could tell instantly that this WVHD was made with pride. No ordinary DQ dog, this one. A huge mound of finely chopped coleslaw with equally finely chopped onions let me know that this was different. When I poked around under the slaw to check out the chili I was delighted to find it to be nearly perfect in texture and color.
As soon as I bit into the hot dog I realized that beauty, in this case, wasn't just skin deep. The slaw was as sweet and tasty as it looked and the chili had a tangy flavor that was just fanatastic. No coney sauce - this is hot dog chili at its best. The wax paper treatment had softened the bun perfectly and the weenie was nicely cooked. My second bite confirmed what I thought about the first: This is a great hot dog - a potential Weenie Award winner for sure.
Clendenin is about 20 miles from downtown Charleston, which puts it pretty far out to be included in the "Charleston Area Hot Dog Joint" category, but two things cause me to categorize it as such: 1) I think Clendenin folks identify with Charleston pretty much as the closest city, and 2) I would definitely make the drive to get these hot dogs!
My eternal thanks to the reader who suggested the Clendenin DQ. I seem to have lost the email but I remember that she said people who have left the area always go to the DQ for a hot dog when they visit. I can understand why. Heck, I could even understand somebody moving to the area just to be close to these wonderful things.
One final note to travelers on I79 who want to try an authentic W. Va. hot dog: Take the Clendenin exit and go about two miles to Rt. 119; turn right and go about 100 yards. Five minutes off the interstate is more than worth the experience.