Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The WV Hot Dog Trail - North-Central WV

 The West Virginia Hot Dog Trail is a publication of the WV Hot Dog Blog and will provide food and culture tourists with a literal roadmap with which to explore the state's best hot dog joints (HDJs). The Trail will be revealed in its entirety on National Hot Dog Day, July 21, but we'll be releasing highlights and snippets of the route every couple of days beginning July 15. This is the sixth post in this series:

Breaching the Slaw Line

As we move north through Lewis County and into Harrison, our trek will take us across The Slaw Line into a land where some people stubbornly refuse to accept the truth that the rest of us hold as self-evident: A true West Virginia Hot Dog always includes coleslaw. The main promulgators of this resistance are from Marion County, but their brainwashing efforts have reached down into Harrison County as well. Never fear though, there are HDJs that offer slaw -- and some of it quite good -- in this otherwise land of slawlessness. 

But before we actually cross the Slaw Line, we have a stop to make in Jane Lew. Flying Dogs is the first HDJ on our entire journey in which we will need to specially request coleslaw as an add-on. Located just a few miles south of the Slaw Line, it's not completely surprising that an "everything" dog does not include slaw. This is pretty normal for what we think of as kind of the Slaw Line DMZ - that gray area that extends for a few miles in each direction where slaw availability is unpredictable, but it is available and it is very good. We gave this hot dog a 4 1/2 Weenie rank even with having to ask for slaw; it's that good.

Back out on I79 and heading north, we'll cross the Slaw Line on our way to our next stop, Ritzy Lunch in downtown Clarksburg. You'll have to ask for slaw on their everything dog, but you won't get a side-eye for doing so. This venerable establishment knows what its customers like, and proudly serve up delicious slaw when out-of-towners show up for lunch. They pile it on, too, and the heft of their hot dogs is as good as anywhere we've reviewed. Just a great HDJ living dangerously on the slawless frontier. 

On the way back to I79, make a stop at one of the locations of T&L Hot Dogs - either Old Bridgeport Hill in Clarksburg, or in Bridgeport proper. The are separated by a few miles but both are more or less on the way, and both are great HDJs that serve delicious slaw as an add-on. The great thing about T&L is that right there on their menu, even in the mostly slaw-denying Harrison County, is a "West Virginia Dog" with sauce (oh yeah, forgot to mention we're back in "sauce" territory), slaw, mustard and onions, just like God intended. 

Next up is Hometown Hot Dogs on the outskirts of Fairmont, in White Hall near the Middletown Mall. There are numerous Hometowns in North Central, but we've found this one to be the most consistent location. A word to the wise about Marion County sauce: Even the mild is spicy, so be careful ordering up. "Medium" is pretty darned hot by southern West Virginia standards. Of course, coleslaw helps moderate the heat, so make sure you ask for it. 

Moving on into Fairmont proper, our next stop is Woody's. One of Fairmont's favorite HDJs, Woody's --while optional and must be asked for -- offers coleslaw as a topping. While this must confound those Marion County anti-slaw purists, it is a welcome offering to the vast majority of West Virginians. Woody's sells great hot dogs in a cozy and nostalgic atmosphere. What more could we ask for? we were tempted to stop the Trail right here just to make a point with those anti-slaw activists, but we decided to take the high road. Which leads to Morgantown.

Morgantown, O Morgantown. How we have wept for your inability to maintain a good HDJ! Gone too soon was the Five Weenie classic The Hot Dog Barn. Haught Diggity Dogs, another great HDJ went belly-up last year. It is mysterious that great HDJs just don't seem to last here, but one exception is Town Hill Tavern, a watering hole at the top of Willey Street that proclaims "Best chili dogs in town" (see? We're back to chili!). On their menu is the "Mountaineer Dog" which has chili and slaw standard, but you'll have to specify mustard and onions to make it right. 

Our last stop is Walzzy's Hot Dogs, Since it opened just a few months before the Covid pandemic, our Weenie Wonks have not been able to give it an official review, but we have it on good authority that they are serious about hot dogs and worthy of inclusion on our list. While we wish they had a West Virginia Hot Dog on their menu so we could get our favorite toppings without having to list them, they do have all of the toppings available, and our sources say that they are first rate. 

Next Up: The Complete West Virginia Hot Dog Trail

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