It was last Summer I got the first email suggestion to try the hot dogs at Pioneer Drive In in Drawdy. I had no idea where Drawdy was, so I wrote the reader back and asked her. She said it was just a hoot and a holler from Peytona. I had heard of Peytona, and I was pretty sure I had been there, but once again, I needed clarification: "Peytona is just a little piece from Racine," was the reply. Oh, I know where Racine is. It's just over Len's Creek Mountain from Hernshaw, which is just out Rt. 94 from a few miles from Marmet. Everybody knows where Marmet is.
It took a while to carve out the time for a trip over to Drawdy, but I got several more emails about it in the mean time, and my interest - and my hunger - was piqued. I finally made the trip.
Now I gotta admit, when I heard "Pioneer Drive In" I had wondered what kind of drive in there would be on Rt3 clear over in Boone County. I couldn't imagine a place with curb service that far off the beaten path (heck, I couldn't imagine a place with curbs that far off the beaten path). Still though, when I finally made it to Drawdy and rounded the curve nearest the Pioneer, I actually zipped right by the place because it doesn't look like a drive-in whatsoever. What it looks like is a typical roadside beer joint. It is a white cinderblock building with peeling and fading paint and a line drawing of a Conestoga wagon on one side. Two signs give conflicting information about the name of the place: One hangs from the side of the building and says "Shirley's Bar and Grill" and the one in the wagon drawing says "Pioneer Drive In." So for the record we'll call it "Shirley's Bar and Grill at Pioneer Drive In" (ala "Oriole Park at Camden Yards" or "University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field"); "SB&G@PDI" for short.
Inside, the SB&G@PDI is much more interesting. It has a few tables, a big screen TV, a pool table and a full bar. A hand written mixed drink menu on a piece of poster board hangs from the refrigerator in the bar that lists prices for White Russians, Pina Coladas, Fuzzy Navels, Sloe Screws, etc. Delightfully unrefined and unpretentious. On each table sits a galvanized bucket of peanuts. Another menu board on the wall lists the food items, chief among these, and in first position on the board, are hot dogs.
I wasn't surprised to find that "everything" means chili, slaw, mustard, onions and ketchup. I have really had a run recently of ketchup laden HDJs. I opted out of the red stuff and ordered two hot dogs with everything else. It took quite a while to get my order, but it was worth every second of the wait.
When my dogs arrived they were warm, soft and wrapped in wax paper. The buns were so nicely steamed that the actually conformed to the shape of my hand when I picked them up.
Unwrapping the first dog, I was treated to a marvelous bouquet of "Essence of WVHD" that made my mouth water. The first bite made me realize why readers had pointed me in this direction. Every part of the hot dog was great and nearly perfectly executed. The only thing I could possibly nit-pick would be that the chili could be a little more spicy and complex, but it tasted fine and was perfect in texture. The slaw was very, very good and served in a heapin' helpin'. The onions were sweet and carefully chopped. A great hot dog.
I'm going to give the SB&G@PDI hot dog a 4 1/2 Weenie rating. The dog is not quite a 5 on its own merits, and the place doesn't really make up for the difference with its atmosphere. But a 4 1/2 is nothing to be ashamed of. So far it is the best hot dog I've found in Boone County.