To say that Jen's Southern BBQ is the talk of Nitro is an understatement. It is the talk of the whole Kanawha Valley. It is one of those places that isn't fancy or flashy but has some of the best food you're going to find at reasonable prices prepared and served by some of the nicest folks you will ever meet. It's only been open for a few months, but already people line up at lunch time to get one of the dozen or so tables that might still be available. It sits right on the corner of First Avenue and 8th Street in Nitro in the former home of one of the many Rio Grande Restaurant locations. Look for the huge smoker out front.
I first went there because I heard that the pulled pork was to die for (and it is) and went back to try the country style ribs which were equally as scrumptious. On my second visit I noticed the menu includes a "WV Hot Dog" that comes with chili, slaw, mustard, onions and ketchup (the last ingredient being superfluous, as regular readers already know). I knew that I needed to get back and try one because as good as the rest of the food is I figured that the hot dogs would be awesome. I figured right.
It's difficult to know where to begin, so let's start at the top: The slaw didn't look like anything special. It was cut much more coarsely than I normally prefer and I was expecting something different from what I tasted, but this slaw is very good. Despite the larger pieces of cabbage it was creamy and as sweet as you'd ever want with just a hint of tartness. It tasted unbelievably fresh. This is perfect side-serving coleslaw and it works just as well on top of the dog.
Just under the slaw was more goodness: The chili on this dog, while not terribly spicy, was as tasty as chili gets. It was wonderfully overloaded with garlic (is there such a thing as too much garlic?) and nicely complex. Some folks would no doubt prefer it a couple of shades hotter, but it worked perfectly with the slaw.
Down under it all was an all-beef weenie that seemed to have been lightly grilled. It was bursting with flavor. The onions and mustard didn't detract, but the bun did a little: It seemed to be standard Heiners issue but had not been steamed, toasted or grilled. If I had gotten my dogs to go the wax paper wrapping would have no doubt softened the bun. This is a mild nit-pick and I'm not going to penalize for it. Also, don't forget to ask them to hold the ketchup.
Add it all up and Jen's scores a Five Weenie rating.