Ripley is a typical West Virginia small town. It has a Main Street, a Church Street, a Maple Street and a WalMart. It has a beautiful courthouse that dominates the downtown business district and several stately churches whose steeples are visible above the tops of the majestic old oak trees that line the streets. The sidewalks are rolled up early most evenings, but during the day Main Street is a flurry of activity as people with courthouse business run errands around town. A seemingly never-ending parade of cars stream through town on their way to or from I77. Yes, it is typical in many ways.
Just about every small town worth its salt has a unique little hole-in-the-wall dining spot where people know they can find cheap and dependably tasty food. Ripley is no exception. Happily, the dining spot in Ripley is a hot dog joint.
I have received a bunch of email urging me to try Pete's Hot Dogs ever since I started this site, but this weekend was the first time I'd had the opportunity to be in Ripley during Pete's business hours. I had to bend my schedule a little but I got there Saturday evening just an hour or so before they closed. The place was abustle, both drive-thru and walk-in, but my hot dog with everything was still served lighting fast. I didn't even have time to take pictures or look around much. The walls, I did notice, where adorned with dozens of photographs of kid's sports teams presumably those sponsored by the restaurant. A couple of articles about the restaurant clipped from local newspapers were also framed and on display. I wish I'd had time to read them because that is usually how I get historical information about hot dog joints.
As soon as I pulled my dog from the paper bag I knew it was going to be a good one. It was wrapped in wax paper and was already wonderfully soft and gooey; obviously a well-steamed bun was the reason. Upon unwrapping I noticed immediately that Pete's takes the Huntington approach and puts the toppings on the bottoms. Not only is this bad hot dog ettiquette, it also somewhat limits the amount of chili, slaw and onions that can be used on a hot dog. And, sure enough, there was a very small amount of everything on my "everything" dog. Surprisingly, though, it was still very tasty and satisfying.
There really wasn't enough chili to get a taste of it independently of the slaw, onions and mustard. There really wasn't enough slaw to get a taste of it independently of the chili. But I confess, the whole dog was just excellent. I can only guess that the flavors of both the slaw and chili are very concentrated and potent enough to overcome the small quantity. It left me wanting more. In fact I felt like I could have eaten all of the "10 for $8.99" special advertised out front.
In spite of the upside-down dressing of the dog, and in spite of the miniscule amount of chili and slaw I am going to give Pete's a 4.5 out of 5.0 on the Weenie Scale. Just a great little hot dog in a great little hot dog joint in a great little town.
The next time you're near Ripley, try one, for Pete's sake!