Saturday, January 07, 2023

Charleston HDJ Review - Pepperoni Grill

Several years back, when politicians argued about things that mattered instead of making up lies about stolen elections and what not, a great debate brewed in the halls of the West Virginia state capitol. The issue at hand was one that many people cared passionately about, but try as they did they could not get certain elected leaders to state their position. Then Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was asked the question directly during a press conference and he hemmed and hawed and never really took a stance. The issue? What should be the official state food, the West Virginia Hot Dog or the Pepperoni Roll?

Now it might surprise you to know that this blog came down on the side of the pepperoni roll, since it is a truly West Virginia creation and not just a different version of something more universal. No, we bravely go where politicians fear to tread. Because here, right matters. And we love a good pepperoni roll as much as the next real West Virginian.

There are only a handful of places in West Virginia, though, that are truly serious about both of these quintessential West Virginia foods. Finding a place where you can get a good pepperoni roll AND a good hot dog is difficult no matter where you are in the state. One of them is Swiftwater General Store in Lansing, and the other is Kanawha City's Pepperoni Grill. Both of these purveyors make their own delicious pepperoni rolls, and -- we just found out -- both have excellent hot dogs. 

Pepperoni Grill is a tiny storefront on a side street in the Kanawha City section of Charleston. The ordering area is small and there are two small tables at which to dine. A larger dining area is just up the stairs and there is a small patio out front where you may dine alfresco when weather permits. The place is always hopping and parking spaces are in high demand between walk in customers and Door Dashers waiting to pick up orders. Service is reasonably quick, though. 

We arrived at the height of lunchtime but the line moved quickly and we were able to place our order for the hot dog special: Two hot dogs, chips and a drink for $7.99. Everything here sadly includes ketchup, so we had to delete that from our order, but everything else went smoothly. We grabbed one of the two nearby tables and soon we had our food. 

Interestingly enough, yellow slaw was listed as an option, but we declined. It seems that a lot of Kanawha City HDJs are now offering yellow slaw. 

The hot dogs were pleasing to the eye, with a large helping of just about everything and a plump bun to

hold it all. The bun was not steamed but was very soft. The all-beef Nathan's Famous weenie was perfectly grilled. The chili was good -- not great -- and not at all spicy. The chili paired well, though, with the very sweet and creamy slaw. While the onions were chopped on the coarse side, they were mild enough not to be overwhelming. The whole hot dog was delicious and well made. 

If the chili were a bit more spicy, and if the onions were chopped smaller, and we didn't have to specify "no ketchup" we might have given Pepperoni Grill a top score, but details matter and so we'll deduct a half-point and give it a 4.5 Weenie score. Still, one of Charleston's best hot dogs. 

The Pepperoni Grill is officially located at 4002 McCorkle Avenue in Charleston, but actually faces 40th Street a half-block off McCorkle. They are closed Sundays but open most days  till 8PM.