After I posted the Clendenin DQ review last week I got an email that said that the best hot dogs in West Virginia could be found at Shafer's Super Stop which is on the access road that connects I79 Exit 19 with the town of Clendenin. Well, as I have written before, don't go telling me that you have the best hot dogs in town, in the county or the state unless it's true because I am going to judge you more harshly if you do. I don't like bragging that isn't backed up and I hate false advertising.
So I had to be in Clendenin again today and thought I'd go ahead and check out the dogs at Shafer's. While driving the twenty miles I was, quite frankly, prejudicially planning to find inferior hot dogs at Shafer's. I had eaten there once before and recalled it as more of a place that sells pre-packaged pizzas and other typical convenience store fare. I was sure I would find some self-service hot dog bar with condiments in little tubs with utensils that looked like they had been freshly washed last week. I convinced myself that I was going to be ticked off because I drove all that way to find bad hot dogs.
So I walked into the little joint and ordered a single hot dog, because I knew I wouldn't want more than that since they were going to be so bad. When the lady handed me my order I saw that the hot dog was served in the dreaded hot dog coffin: "A sign of more mediocrity," I thought to myself.
So I walked outside and popped open the coffin and saw, much to my surprise, a hot dog that was topped with a liberal helping of some of the nicest looking coleslaw I've seen. Finely chopped and fresh looking, I quickly tasted it and was completely surprised to find that it was sweet and tasty. "OK," I thought, "but I'll bet the chili is gross." Wrong again. The chili was quite meaty and had a hearty taste that really worked with the sweet slaw. It had almost no spiciness but the flavor was just nice.
My prejudices were falling by the wayside one by one and I began to look at the hot dog with a more open mind. I realized that the bun was nearly perfectly steamed: Not too soggy but certainly very soft completely through. The weenie was the only part of the dog that wasn't remarkable, but it certainly wasn't bad. Overall this was a very good hot dog. Not the best in West Virginia, like my emailer claimed, but very good. When compared with the dogs down the road at the DQ, I would say it's probably a matter of taste which one is the better dog. Shafer's chili is very meaty tasting while DQ has the kind that is cooked at higher temperature and is sort of carmelized into a sweet and tangy mixture. The slaw at DQ is very creamy while Shafer's is sweeter. You won't go wrong with either.
I simply have to say a few things about the atmosphere at Shafer's. This place is pure Appalachian to its core. First, as the name "Super Stop" indicates, it is a combination truck stop, gas station, convenience store and fast food restaurant. You order at the counter, wait for your food standing around in the aisles of the store and pay for your food at the counter by the front door. It is down-home friendly and absolutely without pretense. Some, not me but some, would certainly label it a "redneck" place. The clientele sitting in the dining room in the back when I was there would definitely tend to reinforce such a label. It is exactly the kind of place you find all over West Virginia in those places where rural communities meet an Interstate highway exit (although this is the very first time I've seen a sign advertising a "Turkey Split" - I was afraid to ask what it was!).
But don't be prejudiced like me. Give Shafer's a chance the next time you're in the area and you'll find some pretty good authentic West Virginia hot dogs in a pretty authentic West Virginia roadside oasis.