Monday, November 22, 2010

Another one bites the dust...

Gram's Specialties in Kanawha City, home of 4 1/2 Weenie hot dogs and Five Star pies is no more. Citing the ol' "want to spend more time with family" excuse, they have closed down.

For those of you feeling nostalgic, you can read our review from 2008 here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sam's Hot Dog Stand in Teays Valley is no more... has ceased to be.

The little pocket of Huntington in Putnam County, the Monty's Pizza/Sam's Hot Dog Stand, has closed up shop.

Folks in the Hurricane-Scott Depot-Teays Metropolitan Statistical Area will have to jump on I-64 to St. Albans or Barboursville to get their spicy sauce fix.

As for Monty' real loss there. Graziano's and Husson's offer much better pies.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Closed Charleston HDJ - The Snack Bar at the Kanawha County Courthouse

The place that Rick Lee pronounced as having the "Best Romanesque Architecture in a Hot Dog Stand" is no more.

One of the very first places we reviwed in 2006 was the snack bar in the main hallway of the Kanawha County Courthouse. You can read about it here.

I'm sad to report that the excellent hot dogs are no more and that the snack bar has been replaced with a whole host of vending machines that block the old snack bar window like so many mechanized storm troopers.

And yes I looked; none of them vends hot dogs.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - Maggie Moo's Ice Cream

Ah, America! Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. How can you go wrong with an ice cream joint that sells hot dogs? You can't, right?


Reader "bingmanch" sent me a note and said I should check out Maggie Moo's Ice Cream in the Charleston Town Center Mall because they were advertising a hot dog lunch special featuring Nathan's Famous weenies. Someone else wrote and told me that the hot dogs were made with the larger size Nathan's weenies and at 2 for $5 including chips and a drink, you couldn't beat the value.

It is big. A good 50% larger than a garden variety WVHD. 

But except for its impressive voluminousness, rather than being a source of patriotic pride this hot dog is an affront to everything right about the good ol' USA.

Let me count the ways this hot dog was bad:

1. Microwaved Custard Stand Chili  - I've documented before that this stuff is pretty good when served at the source, but package it up, ship it to Sam's or Wal Mart, store for months, and then nuke it? Nah, I'd rather have almost any fresh cooked chili.

2. Overcooked Nathan's Famous weenies - What a waste. One of the best weenies you can sink your teeth into - and I couln't sink my teeth into it because it was so tough from who knows what kind of cooking method (I would guess also nuked - into oblivion).

3. Stale Bun - Oversized buns (required to hold the over sized weenie) aren't easy to find fresh, but Maggie Moo's go the extra mile to ensure that the bread was properly aged. These buns seemed like they had been around a long time. I'm talking crusty outside and chewy centers.

4. Slaw - Huge hunks of carrots and cabbage floating in a matrix of a tasteless white pseudo-mayo.

5. The only thing that didn't taste bland was the onions - and they were out of onions.

Maggie Moo's should stick to hawking their overpriced ice cream. 1 Weenie, and that's generous.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - The Daily Grind Computer Solutions and Coffee Shop

A "computer solutions" business that sells hot dogs? This place on Washington Street East just two blocks from the capitol complex does just that. Coffee too.

The first time I went to this place I chickened out at the door. The door itself is not very inviting (in fact it is a bit off-putting) and I was already skeptical about eating a hot dog made by a computer geek. But after my initial visit I posed the question to the Facebook mob and asked for their advice. They unanimously told me to go for it, apparently not giving one iota about my health and welfare. I'm thinking of taking them all out of my will.

So spurred on by the crowd, today I went through the door. Once across the threshold it wasn't nearly as scary as it seems from the outside. I placed my order at the window with two very nice and friendly people who looked nothing like computer geeks. "Everything" includes ketchup but it was easily deleted from the order.
The place inside looks much more like an office than it does a restaurant, with seating for 12 or so at two tables and a lunch counter. My hot dog was brought to my table and served with a smile and I was concerned about it right away because of the sparsely applied and very coarsely chopped slaw.

My first bite was surprising, not because of the taste but the texture and temperature. The buns were out of the bag room temperature (which was a little chilly today) but still very soft. The weenie was also very mushy as if it had spent several days soaking, as Chris James likes to say, in a pool of its own filth. But my negative remarks about this hot dog end here.

The slaw was delicious as was the meaty (but not spicy) chili; the two went together perfectly. And the weenie tasted fine despite its waterlogged condition. While the hot dog could have been better if the bun was steamy warm, it was still very good. 4 Weenies.

Surprising results from an unusual HDJ. Capitol workers, this is defintely the best hot dog within walking distance for lunch, so I encourage everyone to try it and tell them you read about it on

Monday, October 25, 2010

OK, it's not about hot dogs, but...

The most controversial piece of public art in Charleston comes to life and takes its revenge on naysayers!

 The 65' tall sculpture "Hallelujah" at The Clay Center is one of those love it or hate it kind of things. You can see a picture of the real thing here, or you can buy this version here:

Update: You can also the read the story in the Charleston Daily Mail.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Atlanta HDJ Review - Jackson Hartsfield Airport Concourse C Hot Dog Zone

Fork You, the local Charleston restaurant review blog, recently came as close to honoring their mission as they have come in quite some time by reviewing an Ansted restaurant.To reinforce better blogging behavior (they only missed "local Charleston" by 50 miles - which for them lately is like a direct bullseye) and to celebrate the return of these prodigals, I thought I should honor them with a special review of a hot dog that can also be found about an hour from Charleston; albeit the way the crow (or CanadaAir CRJ200) flies.
While cooling my jets in the Atlanta airport waiting for a "maintenance delay" (translation - "the flight crew overslept") my tummy began to rumble. The closest food joint was a Wendy's, but the line at midday was exceedingly long. The next closest was The Hot Dog Zone. I decided to take a chance on this foreign food vendor, mainly because its sign listed many regional variations. I thought that just maybe I might find a WVHD listed, but sadly I did not. I had to improvise my order and pay dearly for it: Toppings ala carte are 48 cents each on top of a base sticker price of $3.29! - $5.21 for one hot dog! I hoped it would be worth it.
It wasn't.

The chili had beans in it, the slaw tasted just like the gross stuff you buy at Sam's (Wholesale Club, not Hot Dog Stand). The weenie was huge and tasty, but it sat inside a slightly less huge bun that was fresh sometime last week.

I will not dignify this hot dog with a Weenie Rank. Just say no.

In retrospect I should have saved my budget, both caloric and financial, until I returned to the green, rolling hills of West Virginia and bought myself a proper hot dog. I guess I just wanted to be exotic like my blogging buddies over at Fork You, but alas.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Webster Springs HDJ Review: The Custard Stand

Certainly one of the most successful businesses in the West Virginia Hot Dog industry, this little HDJ has become the leading producer of store-bought hot dog chili in the entire region. Its chili, "Custard Stand Hot Dog Chili" is sold in stores like Kroger and Wal Mart thoughout the eastern US. According to their Facebook page, the original restaurant "The Custard Stand" was actually named Elsie's Dairy Bar- founded by Elsie Hamrick-1960. The name was changed to The Custard Stand in 1991-and the chili began to be sold in retail stores in 2003. In 2009, the second location of The Custard Stand in Flatwoods was opened (you can read Bid Daddy's review of that location here.)

I have been trying to get to this original location for years, but Webster Springs is not on the way to anywhere and so it took me until I had a free day and the inclination to make a four-hour roundtrip hot dog run. My chance finally came on a Sunday and I logged onto and was pleased to find that they have longer hours than a typical HDJ and are open 7 days a week. So I loaded up the truck and went to Webster; Springs that is.

I set out with no directions, but I figured I could find the place easy enough and I was right: You know when people give you directions to a place and say "you can't miss it"? Well, this is what they mean: The Custard Stand sits on the outside edge of a hairpin curve on the road that leads down into the Elk River Valley just before you get to Webster Springs, and if you didn't negotiate the curve properly, you just might end up inside the place (which actually happened a few years ago when a truck lost its brakes and crashed into TCS's warehouse). The HDJ has two walk up ordering windows and the dining area is a picnic shelter across the parking lot. When I got there shortly after noon on Sunday, there was a fairly large crowd of folks waiting for their orders. Periodically one of the two workers inside would bellow an order number through the open window and a hungry looking person would scamper over and get their food.

Once the throng thinned out a little, I was able to place my order. I inquired as to what The Custard Stand considers everything and got an unexpected response: "Chili, slaw and oninons." What, no mustard? I am used to having to ask for a modified version of "everything" at lesser HDJs who serve a variation from the generally accepted toppings but usually it involves the deletion of ketchup or such other offensive addition; rarely - if ever - do I have to ask to add mustard.

My mustard request was accepted easily enough and soon I had joined the ranks of the waiting. While I did so I was able to look around a little, but there was not much to look at: This place is very humble and spartan, even for a roadside HDJ. The most interesting feature was the world-class kudzu patch on the hillside above the parking lot that looked like it might overtake the delivery truck that was parked next to it. Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long.

My hot dogs were nestled in paper boats and wrapped in wax paper. The consistency of the slaw and the careful wrapping job made the hot dog an almost perfect specimen of a Utilitarian Dog: The slaw compacted nicely into the shape of the wrap and was easy to eat without worry of spillage. The bun was soft and steamed. While I am not the biggest fan of the store-bought Custard Stand Chili because it lacks spiciness, the slightly sweet slaw seemingly had no vinegar or other tartness inducing ingredient and it was perfectly matched with the tame chili. The onions were embedded under the slaw and were nicely sweet.
This hot dog tries hard for 5 Weenies, but because I had to ask for Mustard I can't see a way that I could do that with the high ethical standards that we maintain here at Big Daddy had a slightly different experience at the Flatwoods location where he got mustard and he gave them a Five. Perhaps I caught the order taker on a bad day, but you have to be on your toes in the dog eat dog world of WV hot dogs. 4.5 Weenies for the original Custard Stand on this day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pendleton County HDJ Review: The Front Porch Restaurant

With possibly the most scenic view of any HDJ in the state, the Front Porch Restaurant's front porch over looks US 33 and looks across the Potomac River at Seneca Rocks, one of the most magnificent rock formations in the state - any state. If the weather is suitable you can see little specks of color moving about the face of the rock - those would be climbers. When you you look around the restaurant, either the inside dining room or the namesake front porch, you can see people with satisfied smiles and lots of cuts and abrasions on their arms and legs - those would also be climbers; fresh from their ascent earlier in the day or perhaps the day before.

Once in a while you might see someone taking a picture of their food, perhaps a hot dog, sitting on the railing of the porch - those would be Weenie Wonks.

This Weenie Wonk stopped by The Front Porch one day at lunch time. I was pretty sure that they would have hot dogs on the menu, but I wasn't at all sure that I would find a real WVHD since this was uncharted territory and one the extreme eastern edge of the known WVHD frontier. But good news: Chili and slaw are right there, listed among the "everything" items on the menu. Of course I had to weed through and discard things like relish and ketchup, but after hours on the road I was happy to even have the option.

No sense wasting a lot of time here: The weenie was good, grilled and beefy. The bun was a little stale. The chili was so-so and the slaw was watery but tasted decent. Overall this was an average effort and scores 2.5 Weenies.

But that view...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dunbar Controversial HDJ Review - Veteran's Connection

We don't typically review hot dogs sold at temporary locations, but this little hot dog stand on wheels has been all over the news lately so I thought we should check it out.

Some background from the Channel 13 WOWK-TV website:
For the past year and a half, Veteran Lisa Groves has been manning her hot dog stand from the corner of the Fas Check parking lot. She originally set up shop there temporarily, but Fas Check granted her permission to stay for good. The problem is she's breaking a city ordinance, which states trailers are not allowed to be parked in front yards. And according to police, several people have come forward complaining about the stand and its noisy generator. "It makes me sad that some people don’t want me here. This little connection may not be the greatest looking, but I used my own personal money to renovate this," explained Groves.

You can see the Channel 13 news story video here.

On Monday the Dunbar City Council told Groves that they weren't going to change their zoning ordinance for her and she responded by say that the City could expect a lawsuit.

While is a non-partisan and somewhat apolitical organization, we do believe in truth, justice and the American way of free enterprise. More importantly, we believe in the rights of the citizenry to have a good hot dog and so I made the trip to Dunbar to judge this case on its most important merits - not the legality of Ms. Groves' business, but the quality of her hot dogs.

At only $1.00 each these hot dogs certainly appear on paper to be a good value, and it was easy to decide while I waited to get two hot dogs just in case they were tasty. When the infamous Ms. Groves appeared at the window I nearly had to order my two hot dogs by pantomime since the din of the nearby generator (see complaints from neighbors) made it almost impossible to communicate. I was able at least to hear her tell me that everything included ketchup, which I immediately declined. She took my order and said something else to me, but the noise level made it difficult to know if she was complaining about the City government's oppression or the weather (which had turned a little damp and dreary). I nodded my head in agreement, which seemed to satisfy her.

When my hot dogs were delivered into my hand, they were wrapped in aluminum foil with a handwritten "thank you" note on the outside. I had to carry my order a distance away so I could hear myself think. The weight and haphazard wrapping job made me feel certain that these were going to be good Utilitarian Dogs. Upon unveiling them, however, I found that the term "utilitarian" wasn't so terribly appropriate since these dogs were extremely sloppy and difficult to eat: Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but "Utilitarian Dogs" are made to be eaten efficiently, and these weren't at all.

Even without the ketchup, the chili on the Veteran's Connection hot dogs was red and tomatoey. The slaw was the main reason for the aforementioned sloppiness as it was extremely mayoey. The taste together wasn't bad, but wasn't very good either. I'm going to be generous and give it a 2.5 Weenie score. I am certain that by giving these hot dogs such a poor review that I will be labeled a veteran hater.

A final comment on the legal battle that could soon ensue: A few years ago the City of Morgantown shut down The Hot Dog Barn for essentially the same reason that Dunbar is likely to shut down The Veteran's Connection. The major difference - the only difference that matters as far as is concerned - is that The Hot Dog Barn was a bonafide 5 Weenie HDJ. Five Weenie hot dogs are worth fighting for. The ones they sell at Veteran's Connection are not. Zoning, schmoning, serving a mediocre hot dog with ketchup as a standard option is reason enough for a "cease and desist" order.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Campbells Creek HDJ Review - D's Tasty Freeze

Back before there was such a thing as a Weenie Scale (the 0-5 Weenie rating we use to rank the deliciousness of hot dogs we review) I reviewed Peggy's Dairy Treat on Campbells Creek near Charleston. That establishment has gone out of business and a new HDJ has taken over the space called "D's Tasty Freeze." When I discovered this change in ownership I decided it was time to brave the treacherous, coal truck-filled Campbells Creek Drive to check out the D's offerings.

D's was hopping at lunch time the day I was there, and the clientele seemed to be regulars. I felt that I stood out a bit and even more so when I pulled out my camera and photographed my hot dogs. For the rest of my visit I felt as if there were eyes on me at all times and I am pretty sure that I was the subject of conversation at at least one table (This is why I usually get my orders to go, so I can photo-document in private!).

In spite of my possibly justified paranoia, I soon was too busy enjoying my hot dogs too much to worry about it. These are very good hot dogs. The chili - as always in the Upper Kanawha Valley - was a little tame but the slaw matched up well and was very complex; tart and sweet with nearly perfect texture. The bun was warm and soft and the onions were sweet and finely chopped. All in all a really good hot dog that earns a 4.0 Weenie rating.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Berkley Springs HDJ Review: Creakside Creamery

(ed. note: This is the first review by Frank, our Eastern Panhandle Weenie Wonk, and it marks the first EP HDJ  review in the 4 1/2 year history of this blog. Now some might say that the EP is not really West Virginia. We at believe the best criteria by which to judge whether the EP belongs is their hot dogs. Whether it settles the issue or fuels the debate, we feel a duty to report the unvarnished hot dog truth. )

After hearing from a few friends that the Creekside Creamery was worth visiting, I made a point to give it a try during a recent trip to Berkeley Springs. The Creekside Creamery is located a block off the main street in downtown Berkeley Springs, South Washington Street, on Congress Street. There are two cozey outdoor seating areas, but I chose the indoors due to the 90 degree heat.

Without reservation, I can tell you that the Creekside Creamery is not a normal WVHD joint. Almost all the walls in the creamery are lined with things for sale, with children's toys and women's beauty products predominating. But what makes the creamery truly unique is the glass case displaying handmade gourmet chocolates for sale. Specifically, the chocolates were made by Sweet Shop USA and were on sale for the gourmet price of $24.95 a point. I have been to other WVHD joints that sell a variety of things, but gourmet chocolates is definitely a first for me.
There was also another glass case displaying homemade pies and the like for sale, as well as a large board displaying all sorts of ice cream selections. The special of the day was quiche lorraine. However, I was there in search of a delicious WVHD. There were two hot dog choices on the menu- a 1/4 pound dog and the standard version. I stuck with the traditional, and ordered a Combo #2 which is two hot dogs, chips, and a drink for about $4.50. However, the price of my combo went up two dollars when I was charged $0.50 for each addition of chili and slaw to the two hot dogs.

The service was friendly, but provided at a leisurely pace. When I placed my order for chili, slaw, mustard, and onions, the lady behind me chuckled and said that I would need someone to clean my tie afterwards. After I assured the lady that I had some experience with these toppings, the owner jokingly informed me that they did not sell bibs. When I received my plate, the fork on my plate showed that the cashier was indeed worried about my cleanliness.

The first thing I noticed about my hot dogs was that the chili was placed over the slaw. I also noticed that the weenie was larger than what you find on a standard WVHD. The weenie was tough and somewhat hard to chew and undercooked. The taste of the weenie overpowered the rest of the parts. The taste was not unpleasant, but it overpowered the rest of the ingredients of the dog. I had to taste the chili and slaw individually to get a good sense. For fifty cents a piece extra on each dog, I could have used more chili. The chili was thick and meaty, and weak on spice. There were medium chunks of cabbage in the slaw,it was not creamy and matched the chili's blandness. The mustard and onions were both overpowered by the taste of the weenie. The bun was warm, but could have used some steaming.
Overall, I give the Creekside Creamery 2.0 weenies. I had high hopes for the Creekside Creemery, but those were dashed by bland chili and slaw and an overpowering weenie. Stop in the Creekside Creamery for some ice cream or even some gourmet chocolate if you are feeling ritzy, but don't go out of your way for the hot dogs.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Back to Work - The Hot Dog Hiatus Ends

Yawwwn! OK, I know it's been a while since any new reviews have been posted, but with summertime entering its waning days it's time to get back to work. A couple of notes about what we've been up to at

  • New Eastern Panhandle Reviewer - Tomorrow you will be able to read the first review posting from our newest Weenie Wonk, Frank. Frank lives in the Eastern Panhandle and will be providing commentary from that remote part of our territory regularly. Welcome, Frank. 
  • My recruiting trip to the Eastern Panhandle gave me the opportunity to gather new data for our Slaw Mapping Project. Look for an updated map soon.
  • I attended the Greenbrier Classic last week but could not force myself to fork out $5.50 for a hot dog that had no chili or slaw. It's a shame they didn't make an effort to provide an authentic WVHD experience ala Greenbrier. Their little outpost in Tamarack had a decent effort (about which you may read here). The fried green tomato sandwiches , though, were $1.75 and delicious.
  • Lots of reviews were done over the summer, but not many merited a write up. Still, I'll be catching them up over the next few weeks.
  • Several trips out of state this summer during which I had the opportunity to partake of the local hot dog fare. This blog, however, is about West Virginia Hot Dogs and we stick to our mission.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Old Charleston HDJ Reminiscence - The Gold Dome Drive In

I think that when it comes to HDJs of yesteryear, the Gold Dome Drive In gets more mentions on this blog and on our Facebook page than any other. Sitting on the East End side of the old Kanawha City Bridge, this place was legendary for its hot dogs. In one of the very first posts on this blog I reminisced about how my mother would get their hot dogs and purposefully not eat them until after the 10 minute drive home so they would be nice and gooey. Others have written about their 10 or 12 (or even 13) for $1 deal. Whatever your memory of this place, here is a photo that will help bring it back:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - The Sub Shop

Charleston's "The Sub Shop" on Quarrier Street isn't usually open on Weekends, but FestivAll crowds I guess made it too tempting to pass up and so they were open this past Sunday. I was hungry and I thought I'd give them a second chance since the last time I reviewed them they had only recently started serving hot dogs.

The hot dogs were much better this time. My major complaint last visit was about the teenie weenies and they have rectified that issue with large caliber all-beef weenies - I am assuming they are Boar's Head brand - and it was grilled nicely. The chili and slaw were excellent and they didn't try to sneak any ketchup on their "everything" dog this time.

A good improvement, and worthy of a better score: This time The Sub Shop gets a strong 4 Weenies.

Completely unrelated to hot dog matters: My companion ordered a BLT and it was delivered to the table with an apology that they were out of tomatoes. I found it absurd that they would serve a BLT with no T, but they were apologetic and gave us free cookies to make up for it: I can definitely be bought with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Since there was only one person working there, I decided to run to the Capitol Market to fetch them a tomato so they wouldn't disappoint subsequent BLT customers. If you were one of those who benefitted from my benevolence, pay it forward.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Princeton HDJ Review - Grillbilly's Drive In

This little place caught my eye during a winter time visit but I didn't feel like standing outside in the cold to order, so I put it on my "to do in warm weather" list. This past weekend I found myself in the vicinity and hungry at the same time. The weather this time was perfect for not only ordering outside, but for eating outside in one to the four picnic tables that Grillbilly's provided and placed under a beautiful shade tree.

Grillbilly's has a reputation among locals for their hamburgers, but hot dogs is what I was after. I was little dismayed by the menu offering: "Hot Dog" and "Slaw Dog" as if there was really a difference! I was comforted a little though by the news that a "Slaw Dog" came with mustard, onions and chili; then comforted again when my dos showed up wrapped in wax paper. Dismay returned, though, when I got my dogs and they were on the dreaded New England Style buns.

The slaw, at first taste, was fair and had a nice texture. The chili was a little lifeless. In spite of the weaknesses of the parts, the chili and slaw had a real nice synergy and the resultant taste was quite satisfying. The weenie didn't detract, nor did the onions and mustard. Overall it was nice little roadside hot dog that scores a 3 on the Weenie scale.

Grillbilly's is located right along the road from Athens to Princeton, officially known as Rogers Street.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - Hog and Dog

Located in the former home of Tudor's Biscuit World on Bigley Avenue, this brand new HDJ has dared to set up shop 100 yards from a Charleston institution; Chris' Hot Dogs. Not that Chris' has no competitors close by, (The Grille, three doors west of Chris' and Freeman's Restaurant which is across the street and a few doors west), but to open up a place that is all about hot dogs and BBQ - two mainstays of Chris' - is suicide. Unless of course, your product is good enough to lure customers away.With that belief in mind, I walked into Hog and Dog expecting a really good hot dog.

I didn't get it.

This dog is weak all around. The weenie was grilled so much that it had a tough skin on the outside that was difficult to break with incisors alone. The bun was mediocre, the chili was tasteless. The slaw had chunks of green peppers in it.

Out the abundance of fairness and with deference to the newness of the place, I'm gonna give Hog and Dog a 2.5 Weenie score.

I know that there are people that have fallen out of love with Chris' who will probably try Hog and Dog, but I can't imagine that they can honestly prefer this weak effort to the classic that is served just a few steps away.

I will also point out that the menu and atmosphere leads me to think that Hog and Dog are somehow related to these two places - both of which served a better dog than this one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - Wellington's Cafe

Folks in the Charleston area will remember the name "Wellington's" as being synonymous with fine dining for over twenty years. Located inside Scarlet Oaks Country Club in Poca, this was a fancy eatin' place if ever there was one and the owners also had a great catering business. With the economy making it hard for restaurants lately, Wellington's decided to close their restaurant and focus only on catering; or so we thought.

Now, far from Poca in the Meadowbrook section of Charleston, we find Wellington's Cafe. Open for lunch Monday-Friday, this place isn't fancy and has a radically different menu than the old place had. But they do have one important addition to their menu: hot dogs.

When I saw hot dogs on the menu, I was both hopeful and cautious: Hopeful because Wellington's - as already mentioned - is known for excellent food, but cautious because - let's be honest - what would a real chef know about WVHDs?

When I ordered my hot dog I found another reason to be both hopeful and cautious: "everything" does not include ketchup - but it also doesn't include mustard. I asked for one with everything plus mustard.

When I got my hot dog, it looked a little suspect. Served unwrapped in a basket, it was laying kind of flat with its toppings just kind of piled on the spread open bun. When I picked up the hot dog its heft was impressive and I was confused by the softness of the bun and it's toasted appearance. After a closer inspection I found that the bun had been grilled - not like the typical NES bun, but it had been spread open and grilled face down. This gave it a remarkable texture and added some nice flavor while still maintaining the integrity of a real WVHD soft bun.

Other than the piled up appearance, the hot dog looked good. The slaw was a beautiful color and texture and the chili looked dark and meaty.

It took approximately one bite to realize that Wellington's knows hot dogs.

The beauty of the chili and slaw is much more than skin deep, and the two go perfectly together. Actually, this slaw is one of those rare kinds that seemingly would go well with anything. A slight hint of dill was buried in its sweetness and it had a tarty finish. The chili was just plain good. Not terribly spicy but very complex and perfect texture.

All in all a surprising place to find a 5 Weenie hot dog. I am very glad I found it. You can find it on Greenbrier Street just past Capitol Flea Market.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Belle HDJ Review - The Lunch Box

Located in a space formerly occupied by a HDJ known by the strange name of Wal Rocks, this little hole in the wall came highly recommended by facebook fan Carol Johnson. In fact, she repeatedly nagged me until I finally made the trip to the mouth of Witcher Creek just to get her to hush up.

Really, she wasn't that bad, but she was persistent. And I know from experience that when someone is that persistent with a HDJ recommendation, it means one of two things: A) the place has really good hot dogs, or B) the nagger is the owner, or a relative of the owner.

This time it was "A".

To say that The Lunch Box is nothing fancy is an understatement. A few tables reside inside a low wall that separates the dining area from the billiard and video game area. Lots of American flags but little else the way of decor; but the service was very friendly and prompt.

When the waitress (whom I believe was the proprietor) asked for my order, I asked her what "everything" was; her reply unfortunately included ketchup among the proper ingredients of chili, slaw, mustard and onions. I asked for two with no red stuff, and in a jiffy I had my order in front of me.

I visually surveyed my dogs for a moment and noticed that the bun looked like they had been steamed and the slaw seemed to be shredded - not chopped - very finely. One quick taste of the slaw and its sweetness was evident. A second bite revealed it's nearly perfect texture and provided me with a more full understanding of its goodness. This is Blue Ribbon slaw, folks. Seriously.

The chili was fairly typical Upper Kanawha Valley tasting - a little chili powder and very meaty- but its texture was better than most with the beef ground finely. It went perfectly with the slaw.

The weenie and onions were both up to par, so this hot dog deserves a high score. If ketchup weren't standard, and if the chili was a touch more spicy, this could well be perfect 5, but as it is I have to deduct a half-point and officially give the Lunch Box a 4.5 Weenie ranking.

Thank you for nagging me, Carol.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Letters. We get letters...

And comments on old blog posts, too.

The way that Blogger structures itself, some of the best and most entertaining comments are on old, archived blog posts. The blog owner is notified of their existence but for the mos most part regular readers never see them. Once in a while a comment or series of comments is worthy of more attention, and this past week two such comments showed up one of our old posts.

The first was on our review of "Crabby Patti's" in Ripley. I made the trip from Charleston for the crab cakes, but when I saw a hot dog on the menu, well, I had to. I immediately wished I hadn't: That hot dog was so bad that it scored a .5 out of 5 Weenies.

"Jimmyshooter," whom we will assume is the owner of Crabby Patti's posted these comments earlier in the week:

OK, as for Stanton the self proclaimed pork scrap molded in a skin connoisseur.The write ups in the Daily Mail,WV Living Magazine and 101 most unique places to eat were for our MD. Crab Cakes and soups. Crabby Patti`s has never marketed,wanted or wished to sell weiners.We do, for adventurers like yourself who drive many miles,use much gas and valuable time to eat off the dollar menu.

And as for beans,we like em like that in MD.

As for the presentation of the weiner they like it loaded around here,broaden your horizons,pick up a fork.

Well then, Jimmyshooter, if you "never marketed,wanted or wished to sell weiners" then why, pray tell, do you? I sure didn't expect to find a hot dog on the menu when I went to your establishment. I would not have turned and walked out if I hadn't seen a hot dog on your menu. I would have, quite frankly, been much happier if there were no hot dogs on your menu. So, what part of that makes it a service to adventurers like me? I don't get it.

You say that in Maryland you like your hot dogs with beans in your chili; Why then are you selling them in Ripley? I would imagine that your neighbors over at Big Pete's sell hundreds more hot dogs and have many more satisfied customers - all without beans!  And thank you again, but my horizons are quite broad enough without resorting to a fork to eat a hot dog! Sheeesh!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - The Village of Otto

I have been driving past this little place on Pennsylvania Avenue for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember I have wondered why it was named "The Village of Otto." I also wondered exactly what it was: It looks like a bar, but who ever heard of a bar named "Village of" anything?" People have told me that, yes, it is a bar, but those same people confessed to having never been there. So still I wondered.

On a recent trip up I79, I looked over and saw a new sign on the building that said "Hot Dogs $2.00." "Finally," I thought, "an excuse to go inside the bar." Now in the interest of full editorial disclosure, there was a time in my life that I needed no excuse to go into a bar, but these days I am a teetotalling goody-two-shoes who requires further inducement. Hot dogs - even expensive ones - will usually do the trick.

So I rolled into The Village of Otto late on a recent afternoon and apparently had missed the lunch crowd. When my dining companion and I walked into the bar the only people we saw were the bartender/cook and a woman who was waiting on her car to be repaired at the garage next door. After we ordered $8.00 worth of hot dogs with everything (onions, chil and slaw) plus mustard and two cokes, we settled into place and became familiar with our surroundings. Two pool tables dominate the room and generations worth of liquor and beer mirrors and posters cover the walls. The bar is well stocked and a smokers cage out back overlooks the Elk River.
The hot dogs took a while to get to us, but once they did I immediately noticed that they were on grilled New England Style buns. The chili was tasty enough (not spicy) but the slaw was way over mayoed. It was as if someone dropped a few pieces of cabbage into a jar of Hellmans. OK, not really that extreme but seriously too much mayo. The taste, despite the mayo overload wasn't so bad. Deducting a half-point for the NES bun, I'll give The Village of Otto an average 3 Weenie rating.

Oh, and about the name: According to the bartender, there are two stories about the name: One was that the little section of Pennsylvania Avenue where it is located was in the 1940's a heavily German community, and the bar name is a tribute to that ethnicity. The other story is that it is named after Beetle Bailey's dog.

The mystery continues...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Best baseball stadium dogs?

Clubhouse Cancer has an excellent round-up of the best hot dogs found at Major League Baseball stadiums.

The ones that look really good to me:

1. Atlanta's Georgia Dog with slaw & Vidalia onions. Closest to the real thing (as defined by us).
2. Cincinnati's Cheese Coney. The "when in Rome..." approach to hot dogs that we espouse is perhaps easiest when we're down the river in Cincy.
3. Houston's Most Wanted Dog with beef brisket. Chopped brisket. Pickles. BBQ Sauce. 'Nuff said.

and the one that gets a big WVHDB "no thanks:"

Seattle's Sea Dog (a glorified fish stick). Probably a pretty good West Coast snack, but not a hot dog by any stretch of the imagination.

Check out the full list here.

(Via's Extra Mustard)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Hometown Hot Dogs in Clarksburg is No More (sort of...)

A mid-morning business trip took me back through the Stealey section of Clarksburg, and I was shocked to find out that one of the better HDJs in the area had closed up shop. Hometown Hot Dogs' building had been renovated into a new Allstate office.

I was a little down about this fact, but I only had to tell one associate who was quick to tell me not to worry: this same crew had apparently set up shop a few miles away in the East View section between Clarksburg and Anmoore. However, they no longer go by the "Hometown" moniker. Instead, the new establishment is known as Smiley's Hot Dogs.

I now have a new mission to find this new hot dog haven and see if they can match or surpass the previously awarded 4.5 weenie rating that they had earned in the past. Be on the lookout for a forthcoming review of Smiley's.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Monongah HDJ Review - Dairy Kone

Ever since I was invited to contribute to the WVHD blog, I had made a mental note that at some point I would travel out of my way along U.S. Route 19 to pay a visit to the Dairy Kone, a quaint looking little red building that sits dangerously close to the roadway but at the same time beckons you to stop for a refreshment of some sort. I had always known that they had hot dogs available, along with other goodies like chicken sandwiches and their newest feature, ground chuck hoagies. Of course, they also had enough varieties of ice cream goodies to feed a small third-world country.

There is absolutely no substitute for friendly service, and fortunately the folks at Dairy Kone made sure I felt welcome, despite the fact that I was starving, had just endured several minutes of traffic stoppage, and probably had the look of a serial killer on loose in my eyes at that point. I was more than pleased that not only was slaw on the toppings list for their hot dogs, it was actually a standard ingredient. This is indeed a rarity for this area. While it's not hard to find places that offer slaw for hot dogs, it's extremely rare that it comes as standard equipment.

I give credit to Dairy Kone for not coping out and going the standard styro-coffin route. Nope. In fact, they took the time to neatly wrap my dogs in wax paper, which is almost always an automatic half-weenie bonus in my book. Wrapping hot dogs in wax paper or foil is a sign of attention to detail and genuine concern for the quality of a hot dog.

The hot dog was about average size, but it was definitely loaded to the hilt with chili and slaw. The chili had a nice but not overbearing quality about it. It carried a good meaty flavor, but the didn't appear to be overloaded with spices or other hot flavorings. The slaw itself was fresh with crisp cabbage and carrots about it, but perhaps a bit drenched as far as the dressing was concerned. It had a pleasing taste to it that wasn't vinegary or sugary, but rather represented a comfortable balance between the two. I was very surprised by the quality of the otherwise tiny frank. It had the distinct taste of being grilled, but carried more of a smoky quality than you might expect from typical flat top grilling. I wasn't took excited about the buns themselves. They probably need a bit more steaming, but were still warm enough to make things enjoyable.

All in all, Dairy Kone is simply a nice family style ice cream parlor/stand that makes a good hot dog. I really feel that if that these hot dogs have the potential to hit the five weenie mark if given better ingredients, but they are still simply right up the alley for any self-respecting WVHD connoisseur. I give Dairy Kone a solid four weenie rating.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Lewisville HDJ Review - Scruples Restaurant

As everyone in West Virginia knows, Lewisville has become home to hard-left leaning democrats and pagans (the religion, not the motorcycle gang). With a demographic that could be best described as "Aging Hippies" there are probably more people who voted for George McGovern in this town than anyplace in the state. Lewisville prides itself on being progressive and seems to attract like-minded people. To further this identity the town council recently voted to add a motto to the "Welcome to Lewsiville" signs: Beginning July 1st, the town will be officially known as "The Little Town with the Big Conscience."

Scruples Restaurant, coincidentally owned by one of the town council members, also has a motto: "Serving Socially Responsibly Meals with a Sustainable Attitude." The menu is chock full of "fair trade" goods, locally produced organic foods and other things you would expect to find in the commissary at an ACLU convention in Oregon. They have the trendiest coffee, the hippest teas and are always at the cutting edge of the latest food health warnings and admonitions. You can get your Acai Berry & Pomegranate juice cocktail with a side order of wheat grass if you like.

On the surface, Scruples might not sound like a likely candidate for a hot dog review, but this is West Virginia - where Mountaineers are always free and hot dogs are obligatory.

Now unless you have been under a rock for the past month or so, you have heard about the hot dog choking controversy: the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a redesign of the shape of hot dogs as to eliminate the possibility of choking small children. You can read about it here.

So Scruples Restaurant, home of all things knee-jerk, has joined the fight against tubular hot dogs. They are now offering their "Hot Dog Safety Wraps" as an alternative to the standard hot dog that they served until just recently. The process begins by grilling paper-thin slices of an organic weenie (a veggie version is also available with sliced tofu franks) and placing them on a fair-trade flour tortilla. A meatless sauce that is reminiscent of DQ Coney Sauce is spread over top and then a dollop of runny and coarsely chopped coleslaw is added. Mustard and ketchup are included on the everything version. Curiously, onions are not an option.

I was prepared to be totally grossed out by this odd little sandwich, but to be honest it tasted pretty good. The individual slices of weenie are grilled and it seems to unlock some extra flavor. The sauce was kind of tasty and the slaw, while I wouldn't want it on a regular hot dog because of its coarseness, was actually very good tasting. The whole thing was crunchy, which adds an unusual sensation to the hot dog experience. It was so surprisingly good, that I changed my plans on how I would write this review. I had first planned to ridicule the wrap and the whole idea of slicing weenies in the name of food safety. but I had to rethink my position after tasting how good it really was. Perhaps I have pigeonholed myself by my dogmatic insistence that hot dogs be made on a soft bun with the toppings applied in a certain way. Maybe I am missing out on a whole new way to do hot dogs. I think that I will use this experience to turn over a new leaf and become more accepting - more tolerant, if you will - the way the good citizens of Lewisville are tolerant and accepting.

So I give Scruples' safety dogs a nice 4 Weenie rank. I think that is a fitting score and nice tribute to celebrate this very special Holiday.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New "got slaw?" tshirt - just in time for Spring!

A fresh new version of a tired old classic!

Available now from's online shop at CafePress!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Amazing Discovery - The Long Lost Marmet Yellow Slaw Recipe!

So there I was snooping through this random flea market and I happened to pick up a little recipe box. Inside the box was an old and yellowing index card with the following recipe typed as plain as day. Since Mr. C's demise, this recipe was thought to be lost forever.

With the possible exception of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there has never been a more significant discovery of the written word.


3 lb head of cabbage, shredded fine and drained
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

Combine ingredients and leave overnight in refrigerator.

For all those readers who had been looking for a good WV Hot Dog slawrecipe, look no further! While it isn't traditional WVHD slaw, it is very tasty.

Here is a old photo of a Mr. C's yellow slaw dog and a regular slaw version.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Charleston HDJ Review - The Leonard's Restaurant

Located in the rear of the First Baptist Church Business Annex on Shrewsbury Street, this little carry out can best be seen from the Leon Sullvan Way exit of I64 in Downtown Charleston. The proprietor, Minnie Leonard ("Miss Minnie" to people who know her) offers her loyal fans a steady stream of fried fish, okra, green beans and other assorted soul food favorites during lunch hours every business day. The restaurant has been open for a year and a half or so and I thought it was time to review their hot dogs.

Knowing that hot dogs, in these parts, are a necessary item on such food establishments I was supremely confident that they would have them on the menu and my confidence was rewarded. "All Beef" hot dogs for $1.50. Everything, I was told, included mustard, chili, slaw and onions so I ordered $3 worth.

Everyone seems to think that serving hot dogs in a coffin keeps them warm, but I promise you that I have had more lukewarm dogs from these styrofoam menaces than I can count. Leonard's adds to the total. Even though I witnessed the weenie and bun being nuked moments before, by the time I got these dogs to the car they were cool; nearly cold in spots.

But that is a minor flaw.

The hot dogs were really very good in spite of their temperature. The slaw was excellent (obviously freshly made) and the chili as dark and meaty with just a trace of spiciness. All toppings were served abundantly and the overall heft of the dog was substantial.The soft bun and good tasting weenie didn't detract.

This is a very good Genteel Dog and earns a solid 3.5 Weenie. It could have easily been a 4 if the temperature had been better.