Sunday, June 15, 2008

Keyser HDJ Review: Martie's Hot Dog Stand

I was recently travelling on an assignment when I found myself with the opportunity to divert my route to travel through downtown Keyser. On the recommendations of a reader, I sought out Marties Hot Dog Stand.

Marite's wasn't all that hard to find, and it seemed like it was long-time fixture in the community with walls covered with photos of the local high school football team all over the place and clippings of local events hung near every conceivable area that the eye would see. One thing that caught my eye were the various clippings regarding the awards that had been received for the owner's chili and salsa entries at numerous competitions. At that point, I was a bit more anxious to see if the chili would translate into an equally good hot dog.

All I can tell you is that the same town that gave us John Kruk is also the home to one mean hot dog. We can now lay to rest the question as to whether or not the eastern panhandle has any trace of hot dog culture with an affirmative.

The chili was absolutely phenomenal. I don't believe that I have tasted as rich of a chili, save for perhaps the one time I was introduced to Romeo's in Charleston during one of my early business lunches with Stanton. Martie's chili is very robust with flavor that captures the essence of the ground beef, which is balanced perfectly with seasonings and a tasty sauce.

Martie's slaw is also a pleasant surprise. The dressing has just the right consistency, being neither too thin or too thick with a nice contrast of sweet and tangy. The cabbage was more coarse than you usually expect on a hot dog, but that didn't hurt this sampling at all. I found some scatterings of pimentos in my slaw mixture that only served to enhance the flavor. Purists might say a weenie deduction would be in order for adding something like that to the slaw, but I would have to respectfully disagree. By far and wide, the slaw was nearly as good as the chili.

Martie's also uses a 100% beef wiener that is cooked to the perfect temperature so as to allow the juiciness to come through in every bite. The buns were steamed nicely and particularly fresh. I didn't seem to have a lot of onions or mustard on mine, but I really didn't mind it at all since the other toppings were in a league of their own.

The restaurant itself is located along a busy row of buildings, and the large plate glass window made it impossible for me to get a photo of the place without having every single person sitting inside staring at me the whole time I stood across the street. The interior was a bit of a squeeze and there was a thick smell of old cigar smoke lingering in the air. I didn't see the group of fishing buddies swapping stories over their hot dogs and some cold beers complaining, so I wasn't about to either.

The kind woman behind the counter was very polite and prompt with my order, which after a long trip was more than welcome. Without a second thought, Martie's Hot Dog Stand gets a five weenie rating. I don't know if or when I'll be back out that way, but I have no doubt that I'll make the effort to stop by for another satisfying meal from their again.

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