A while back an AP article aired in several small town WV newspapers about WVHotDogs.com and this blog. It spawned a lot of suggestions for reviews in places we don't get to regularly but they get added to our "to do" list and we try to get to them whenever our travels take us there. When that article hit the Parkersburg newspaper we immediately were inundated by suggestions for Judy's Famous Hot Dogs. This place has a loyal fan following and I was eager to see why. I finally made it to Parkersburg this week and Judy's was first on my list of places to visit. I found the tiny hot dog joint sitting just where I was told I would find it, in the plaza that contains the local Big Lots as well as the Parkersburg Gabriel Brothers location. I'm not sure what this plaza is called, but it's near the toll bridge and almost to the Vienna city limits.
One of the most interesting HDJs I've seen, it looks like it began life as a concession stand trailer and then a small storage building with lots of windows was tacked onto the side of it. The result is actually very nice and comfortable. It only seats ten people or so on two half picnic table benches against each wall. Everyone that came in while I was there got their orders to go and I was the only one dining in. I would be surprised if many people use the tables. The rest of the interior was interesting enough to hold your attention while waiting for your order, but nothing fancy. It felt very clean and sanitary, especially considering the kind of structure it is.
The friendly people behind the counter (one of whom I recognized from a photo on the wall as Judy herself) were very friendly and helpful. I scanned the menu to see what an "everything" dog was topped with but gave up when I saw that Judy's is one of those places
that has lots of different kinds of dogs and toppings. I finally just ordered one with sauce (yes, it's sauce in P'Burg), slaw, onions and mustard. When Judy heard the order she said "A West Virginia Dog!" which made me look at the menu again. Sure enough, there it is on the menu: West Virginia Dog - just like the one I ordered.
I really hated to see that my hot dog served in a coffin, but it was so nicely steamed that it didn't matter much in the end; the bun conformed to the shape of my hand as I removed it from its styrofoam vessel.
The sauce at Judy's is about as complex as any sauce I've had. It was much more tart than spicy, but I really didn't miss the spice. The texture was on the runny side and the color was almost unnaturally dark brown. There are a lot of unusual ingredients in this stuff, and a lot of good ingredients. The overall flavor was powerful and it needed a good slaw to balance it out. Fortunately Judy is up to the task: This slaw is phenomenal! Very finely chopped and obviously fresh-made. It was just exactly sweet enough to offset the tartness of the sauce. A great combination. The weenie, mustard and onions didn't detract from the taste.
It's easy to see why Judy's has so many fans: They have one more now. Judy's is a Five Weenie delight!