Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Charleston West Side HDJ Death Match Round 1 - Hog and Dog vs. The Smokehouse

The first round of our West Side HDJ Death Match pits the venerable Smokehouse - the oldest remaining HDJ on the West Side against the newest - Hog and Dog. These two HDJs are also the farthest apart geographically but perhaps the closest in quality of all the HDJ entries we are likely to see during this contest.

Hog and Dog occupies the former site of the original Tudor's Biscuit World and has seemingly done well since it opened a couple of years ago. Being only a half-block away from Chris' Hot Dogs, a beloved West Side fixture, some folks predicted that Hog and Dog wouldn't survive here. Instead it was Chris' who recently went belly up, and their demise might well have helped along by Hog and Dog's success. Another restaurant and HDJ around the corner, Freeman's Restaurant, also folded recently. A real Donald Trump story of hot dog domination. But was this because of great hot dog quality?

Hog and Dog's offering has one of those micro-sized weenies, harshly grilled. Now some like the small caliber weenie because it allows extra toppings, and H&D's slaw is excellent in texture and taste, but their chili is hardly present - more of it doesn't help. The chili is beefy but completely lacking in spice. The bun is obviously heated in a dry oven instead of being steamed or kept naturally moist and the result is a crusty exterior. H&D scores good points though for having their "everything" ingredients proudly posted as "chili, slaw, mustard and onions" just like God intended.

The Smokehouse sits on Washington Street, several miles to the west of Hog and Dog. Since we reviewed The Smokehouse earlier this year, we'll allow that review to stand as The Smokehouse's background info and just focus on the hot dog: The first thing you notice when you pick up your Smokehouse hot dog is that the bun is extremely soft - a softness that only comes by steaming. The second thing you notice is that the weight; this is a fully loaded hot dog with a large caliber all-beef weenie. The chili and slaw are probably more lightly applied, but the potency of both make up for the smaller quantity: The chili has a nicely spicy flavor with chili powder and cayenne pepper clearly evident. The slaw has a great texture and is more tart than sweet, but it goes perfectly with the spicy chili.

Either of these hot dogs would make a great lunch but the best of the two is definitely The Smokehouse on the strength of their soft buns and synergistic chili/slaw combination, and they win the right to take on Sam's Hot Dog Stand in the next round.

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