Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Charleston West Side HDJ Death Match Round 2 - The Smokehouse vs. Sam's Hot Dog Stand

We reviewed Sam's Hot Dog Stand's West Side location on its very first day of business in 2008. You can read that review here. Not much has changed, except the Weenieistas seemed a little more sure of themselves now and they no longer deliver your hot dog in a coffin, but wrapped nicely in wax paper. 

But as for the quality of the hot dog, nothing has changed. As I re-read the four year old review, it seems as if I could have written it word for word about today's visit: good chili (get the spicy), not such good slaw, small caliber weenie, cold crusty buns. You still have to be careful about ordering "everything" unless you want relish, ketchup and mayo on your hot dog, but this is not a bad Utilitarian Dog. 

Unfortunately for Sam's, though, "not bad" is not nearly good enough to knock off the really great hot dogs from The Smokehouse. It's going to take a really good HDJ who can bring their "A" game to dethrone the reigning champ. 
Next to try to defeat The Smokehouse will either be Sista's Rib Shack (if we can catch them open) or Loretta's Past Time. Keep an eye on this space. 

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.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Charleston West Side Hot Dog Joint Death Match

After taking a little time off following the Downtown Charleston HDJ Death Match, reader complaints have motivated us to get back to work. Our recon missions have already commenced and soon we will be publishing the first of our match ups.

We've had a little controversy regarding whether or not to include Skeenies in the West Side Death Match. Many feel that Skeenies is definitely part of the West Side and some believe its in North Charleston. Some say that anything on Sissonville Drive should be rightfully considered Sissonville. The judges have ruled and Skeenies will not be included in the West Side Death Match (that huge sigh of relief you heard was from every other HDJ in the contest). Perhaps there will be yet another death match for HDJs that are in the Charleston City Limits But Not Easily Defined As Belonging To A Major Culturally Specific Area (or CCLBNEDABTAMCSA (prounouced "Club-Ned-ab-tamska"). We'll see how that progresses.

But for now we turn our attention to the West Side (some say "Best Side") of Charleston. Unfortunately, Chris' Hot Dogs has recently closed, robbing the field of its most notable contender. Freeman's Restaurant has also closed. This leaves us with Hog and Dog, Sam's Hot Dog Stand, The Grill, Sista's Rib Shack, Tudor's,  and The Smokehouse. There are also a few bars that serve hot dogs that might be included if some reader writes in with an endorsement, but I'm not willing to risk life and stomach testing out bar hot dogs in hopes of finding one that might be better than your average gas station dog. Oh wait! Speaking of gas stations, I just remembered that One Stop has a little hot dog business so we'll include them in the tourney.

So watch this space next week for the opening round results!