Friday, November 16, 2007
There are some hot dog chains/franchises that have become the accepted standard bearer for hot dog quality in their respective localities. While most of their respective HDJs will keep the quality at a acceptable level, there are those black sheep --the weak links of the chain, if you will-- that bring shame upon the good name of their respective namesakes. On the other hand, there are those few outlets that wind up being the "poster boys" for the rest of their peer stores to follow. Case in point: Hometown Hot Dogs in Grafton.
I had embarked on a quest to review as many of the known HDJs in the Grafton area. While I didn't hit every single mom-and-pop restaurant, I found that most of the stands offering up hot dogs were somewhat lacking. It appeared as though Grafton could only hope to languish in WVHD mediocrity, at best. That was until I made the stop at Hometown Hot Dogs located at the foot of the bridge on U.S. Route 50 where it meets Main Street.
The building itself appears to have at one time been a part of the Fetterman church located next door. The gravel parking lot is usually full at lunch time. With five booths and three stools at the counter, seating is at a premium. The interior is very bright and clean, making for an inviting place to have lunch. I was initially taken aback by the fact that this may be the only HDJ I've stepped foot in that didn't have either a radio or TV playing. Fact of the matter is, there is simply too much business for the employees to stop and even think of turning one on. Since this is probably THE place in Grafton to get a great hot dog, most of the local hot dog fans are too busy to carry on their own conversations to bother paying attention to a radio or TV anyway.
The menu is relatively simple, with fewer offerings than the Fairmont or Clarksburg locations, but this works in favor of WVHD fans. A hot dog with chili, onions, and mustard will run you $1.00 (which includes tax), and .20 cents more get you a heaping helping of some of the best slaw around these parts.
Let me start with the slaw. I don't know what to say makes it so special, but it is nothing short of heavenly. It has the perfect sweet/tangy balance that makes your taste buds dance around. The finely chopped cabbage has a slight but delightful crunch which blends well with the creamy dressing. The chili has the typical finely ground beef with a meaty gusto that carries the spice and flavorings to a flood of fun. It's not really complex, but the simplicity of the recipe is what makes it work. Never overcooked and never flat, this chili in either its mild or hot format will please just about anyone. The remainder of the ingredients are well-prepared, as the wieners are always cooked suitably and the finely chopped onions play well with the rest of the toppings. The buns are flawlessly steamed to the point where they can absorb the sauces, but not overdone to where they will easily fall apart.
Hometown Hot Dogs in Grafton earns a well-earned five weenies. Any WVHD fan travelling through the area should make a point to stop in and pick up a couple. Or at the minimum, have one and enjoy the conversations with a neighbor.