Sunday, April 16, 2006

Charleston Area Hot Dog Joints - The Valley Bell Store

Back in the day before I worried about calories and cholesterol I used to frequent the old Valley Bell Store on the corner of Delware Avenue and Roane Street on the West Side for milk shakes and hot dogs. There's nothing quite like the combination of a good hot dog and a chocolate shake, and it seemed to me that wherever you found good shakes around Charleston, there you would find good hot dogs as well.

Well, when I cast off milkshakes in favor of a smaller waistline (and a hopefully longer lifeline), I forgot about some of those places and their hot dog potential. But as I was driving by the Valley Bell today I saw a sign in the window with those two glorious little words that say so much: HOT DOGS. I immediately remembered and I immediately stopped.

The Valley Bell was the largest dairy company in town for many years. They were the last company in our area to offer home delivery - well into the late 70's. The dairy building, although it has been rebuilt and added on to many times, was a late Art Deco achitectural showpiece in its day. A little of the architecture can still be seen in the corner where the store is located. The floor to ceiling windows that lean outward at the top are the most visibly striking arcitectural element, but if you look closely you can still see remnants of the past throughout the space. There are a few booths and tables if you'd like to eat there, but I got mine to go.

The hot dogs are still pretty good. Everything is chili, slaw mustard and onions. The chili is pretty basic WVHD chili, except that it is the slightest bit tangy. I could not postulate a theory on the ingredient that gave it the subtle taste. It was good, though. The slaw was pretty good. Weenie and bun, both adequate. The yellow onions were a bit too strong for my tastes. Overall, a good hot dog, but not one I'm going to regularly pass Chris' to get to, unless I fall off the milkshake wagon.

Go for the achitecture, have a dog and a shake or an ice cream cone and you won't be sorry.


Mike Ballburn said...

Do you remember the woman with the beard that used to work there?
That always freaked me out.

Rick Lee said...

Oh gosh... reading about milkshakes and hotdogs is making my mouth water like crazy.