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Jun 10, 2002 04:27 PM

Give the West Virginia Hot Dog its due

  • r

I would like to hear from West Virginians who love their regional hot dogs! I am not from that grand state, but have come to get acquainted with a hot dog combination that is super: steamed bun, mustard,
"West Virginia hot dog chili," chopped onions, and for controversy, maybe slaw or maybe not slaw.(Oh- don't forget the HOT DOG!!!) The West Virginians around Clarksburg do not indulge in the cole slaw version, but around Charleston, y'all seem to pile on the slaw.
Where are the best places (in and out of WV) to get a great "West Virginia Hot Dog" these days?

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  1. Spent a few days in May driving West Virginia searching out Hot Dog Joints and similar. Favorite by far is a place called Hillbilly Dogs in Lesage,north of Huntington, and there are a bunch of Hot Dog Drive-Ins, with curb service, in Huntington itself including the Stewart's Hot Dog chain as opposed to the Stewart's Root Beer chain.

    Had a couple of slaw dogs at Ritzy Lunch in Clarksburg, too.

    Holly Moore


    9 Replies
    1. re: Holly Moore

      Hey? Maybe there is something to these WVA dogs after all? Could Hunnington, WVA be the real capital of the hot dog world and not NJ as I contend? Perhaps I owe all WVA Hounds an apology? John, the hot dog expert, where are you? You need to check this out Bro!

      1. re: Chuck

        You owe it to yourself, Chuck. West-by-God is anawesomely beautiful state. Besides hotdogs, Huntington is renowned for it's friendliness and beautiful women. I kind of like the place. Also, I went to school there at Marshall. Go Herd!

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          Next door neighbor is from Clarkesburg. I asked her husband if she was wearing shoes when he met her - Don't know too much about WVA except Rt 19 area. But, let's face it, the state is not known for its educational system and Sen Byrd seems to only be interested in paving roads.

          Incidently, did you room with Randy Moss while at Marshall? Was he a good cook? Didn't Gary Trent also go there? The Thundering Heard!!!

          1. re: Chuck

            ...!? said THAT to your neighbor? About his WIFE? Dude, that is a most unwise and hurtful comment, whether you realize it or not. Sorry, but Ican't let that one pass without comment.

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              She got over it very quickly - West Virginians are apparently used to the assumption by outsiders that they never wore shoes while growing up in dem mountains...And, frankly, without electricity, how would one tie their shoes anyway?

              1. re: Chuck

                She obviously was experienced with yankees...

          2. re: flavrmeistr

            you seem to be the MAN of West VA hot dogs!
            any decent stops while driving from DC to Lewisburg?
            all of your kudos seem to be at places in NE corridor.

            1. re: nick

              Hi, Nick!
              I caught your comments on "hot posts," but it may be that that other WV afficionados might miss it. Why not start this business (of WV hot dogs) with a fresh post at the top of the Chow hound/ south site?
              As I have previously posted, my WV hot dog experience is limited to a place in Florida, and dabbling in WV recipes at home- I just missed a gathering of West Virginians in Florida where hot dogs were going to rule the picnic menu. So I envy you if you are finding some authentic experiences traveling in West Virginia.

            2. re: flavrmeistr

              you seem to be the MAN of West VA hot dogs!
              any decent stops while driving from DC to Lewisburg?
              all of your kudos seem to be at places in NE corridor.

        2. v

          Oh, the WVA hot dog. Worth the trip to see my in-laws every time. In Clarksburg and that area, try Hometown Hot Dogs HOT chili and Cold cole slaw. T & L is another choice (since Hometown is closed on Sunday, and sometimes my craving isn't satisfied yet!)

          1. West Virginians - Do yourselves all a favor - get in your cars and head east to New Jersey, the home state of the best hot dogs in the country. You can choose from a variety (no awful Chicago salad dogs please) that includes deep fried natural casing pork dogs (Rutt's Hut, Callahans, Hirums, etc), natural casing griddle beef and pork dogs made by Thumans meats, or beefy natural casing dogs (Nathan's, Papaya King, etc) made by firms like Marathon Industries and served with wonderful light brown spicy mustard (made with horseradish)and great B&G relishes!

            Any hot dog lover who understands and appreciates what a real hot dog is all about knows New Jersey's are the best. West Virginia? Chicago? LA? Plea z z e.

            Don't believe me? Let's get the world's number one expert on the subject, John Fox, of Central NJ to chime in! John? What say you?

            11 Replies
            1. re: Chuck

              Good hot dogs or not, Chuck, you couldn't drag theaverage West Virginian to New Jersey with a log-skidder. Especially when they can get a Stewarts'in Huntington or a deep-fried Briggs half-smoke withhot sauce and slaw in Harper's Ferry. Huntington alone has dozens of bars that feature their own special hotdog presentation, each with it's own devoted following. Huntington is heavily into hotdogs, as a glance at the local cancer rates will attest. Right up there with Elizabeth and Rahway.

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                Huntington sounds good - too bad I did not get your post before driving up through West Virginia last month - sorry to hear about their high incidence of cancer - its the nitrites and the food dyes!! Perhaps they need to reformulate their hot dogs? Less lips and snouts? More other offal variety parts.

                In Rahway, we had that beautiful aroma from the refineries - especially coming home late at night on the NJ Turnpike. Nobody ever fell asleep at the wheel in Elizabeth. Ahh, that clean air - not to mention that prison! What an area. Can't say I miss it too much but those Italian Sausage and Italian Hot Dogs on the pizza bread. Remember?


                1. re: Chuck

                  Well, I started this mess, so I may as well jump in again.
                  I am really enjoying "studying" the regional dogs and their preparation, and even though I've learned to appreciate the "salad" of the Chicago Hot Dog, and am envious to all the choices in New Jersey I have yet to try, I thought spotlighting a regional specialty such as WVHot Dogs might give some Chowhounds the urge to broaden their sights. And I am never disappointed.
                  With all the debate that always ensues, about BRANDS of hot dogs, that is usually not the issue at hand for West Virginians, from what I have learned. It's in the toppings! So take any respectable New Jersey champion dog, but add: WV Hot Dog chili, mustard, chopped onion and (maybe yes, maybe no) cole slaw, and you have the makins of a genuine West Virginia Hot Dog, son!

                  1. re: Ric

                    Thanks to all of you for this lively discussion. As a Chowhound located in a hot dog vacuum (middle TN) all I can say is "I'm envious"!

                    1. re: pogophiles

                      You think you're deprived in Tennessee? Try living in Daytona/Ormond Beach Florida! At least you can get terrific "Q"

                      1. re: Chuck

                        Not generally deprived, just hot dog deprived. Actually the Nashville area is not that great for barbecue (with a few exceptions). Now if you want to try hot chicken, I can hook you up!

                    2. re: Ric

                      What's the dillio on WVA slaw? Mayo based? Oil n Vinegar based? Mustard based? Once us NJ Hounds or transplanted NJ Hounds know the composition, we can close our eyes and see what it tastes like on one of our own. Please inform us....

                      1. re: Chuck

                        Although I am not a West Virginian, I feel like an adopted son in the past few months, making some web acquaintences over a mutual love of these hot dogs.
                        The cole slaw recipes I have run across seem kind of non-descript, but mayo based, if anything. I like a sugary-sweet cole slaw, so when we make it at home, I always multiply the sugar to my own liking. On other websites, these authentic West Virginia recipes are typical:
                        Cathy B--'s grandmother's cole slaw:
                        Mix: miracle whip, mustard, sugar, a "touch" of vinegar.
                        Pour over cabbage. "Granny never owned a measuring cup."

                        Kathy's slaw dressing (no meaurements listed, again):
                        Miracle Whip, a little sugar and salt, some milk. You can also add pepper.

                        Simple, down-home fare. The place I search out in Florida for my West Virginia Hot Dogs has a sweet chili and/or a sweet cole slaw. I can't tell, I just bite into an almost caramelly sweet hot dog concoction that I really enjoy. I have recommended the place to some born-and bred West Virginians, and they liked it too, so it may not be too far off. Any West Virginians around to shed light on the "sweetness" angle to this Hot Dog conversation?

                        And, remember, not all of West Virginia goes in for the Cole Slaw anyway! Near as I can tell, it has split the state as much as any hot-button political issue ever did. My friends in Clarksburg would recommend you leave off the slaw. For me, its an essential ingredient.

                        1. re: ric

                          Your friends in Clarksburg at the exception to the rule on WV dogs. I have family scattered pretty much all over the state, and no where have I had a WVdog without the slaw. (Mayo based, slightly sweet, creamy and light.) Sure, places like Sam's and Chris' make it a choice, but who actually orders it without the works (mustard, chili, onions, and slaw)?

                          If you're in South Florida, the place to go for a passable WV dog is Arbetters. Alas, here in Cincinnati, I've yet to find one. The cheese coney is king here. Yuck.

                2. re: Chuck

                  Hey folks! I don't want to sound like I'm copping out here; but I've never tried a hot dog from West Virginia so I can't really judge them. I've had just about every hot dog available in N.J. and a lot in N.Y. and Pa. as well as some that are available via mail order. I've been to the places mentioned by Chuck so often that I can tell the dogs blindfolded. I know how they're cooked and what particular brand is used. But Holly would be qualified to make a comparison as he has tried the major Jersey Dogs at least once as well as a lot of the more popular places across the country. Not to put words in his mouth, but I believe Holly will tell you that Jersey Dogs are best. I know people who are from here and have moved out of state and tell me that nowhere else comes close. N.Y. is good as well as Conn. (they have a lot of good hot dog joints)but no place has the variety of Jersey. From Italian Hot Dogs and Texas Weiners (both of which originated in N.J.) to the North Jersey deep fried dogs, all beef natural casing Kosher style, to beef/pork grilled dogs; Jersey has it all.

                  The brands that you can get here which are used at these places are top notch. There was a hot dog and beer exhibit at Cooperstown last summer. Thumann's was picked as the best dog by a writer from wisconsin where they make the famous Usinger Frank. If you've seen A Hot Dog Program on PBS, you'll note that Rutt's Hutt, Papaya King, and Gray's all use dogs made in Jersey. I don't know their website, but if you do a search for Sabrett; you can find a number of places that will ship them to you. Try the natural casing beef frank and grill it. You won't find a better beef dog. Right up there with Usinger's. Thumann's makes the best pork dog. And a special dog for deep frying that is fantastic. (served at Rutt's Hut)

                  Nowhere else in the world can you get an authentic Newark Style Italian Hot Dog. The best sandwich made! Beef hot dogs, potato slices, peppers, and onions fried together and put on half of a round loaf of pizza bread. Check out; website of my favorite Texas Weiner. Their chili sauce is so good that they ship it all over the world. It is made in a 100 gallon drum from a secret recipe. I would challenge you West Virginians to get a hold of a Thumann's and a Sabrett (2 different types of dogs) both available online and compare them with what you have out there. And cook them on a griddle if you can. Or the backyard grill. But don't boil them.

                  1. re: Chuck

                    I grew up in the slaw part of West Virginia, went to school in the slaw optional part, and I have been in New Jersey for 30 years. The hot dog comparison between the two states is actually pretty simple. New Jersey has better dogs, but the rest of a New Jersey hot dog is utterly forgettable. It is actually a waste of a very good hot dog. The best thing I can think to do with the dogs that are available up here is to take them down to West Virginia and dress up them right.

                    The classic West Virginia slaw is mayo based, pretty sweet, but light. I actually came onto this site looking to see if any worthwhile chili recipes are posted. I have several, but they are closely guarded family secrets, like the people who gave them to me would never speak to me again.... kind of secret.

                    Steamed bun; chili (don't even THINK about using that stuff with beans), diced onions, yellow mustard and ketchup. That is the classic West Virginia hot dog, and there is none better.

                  2. I just last week had a great dog in Gilbert, WV in Mingo County. It was at a little dairy bar whose name I don't remember, but it's the only place in Gilbert with a statue of Elvis out front. The hot dog was weiner, great chili, mustard, onion, and slaw on a really good toasted bun. Fountain coke and homecut fries and we were ready for a night of fourwheeling.

                    1. I live in Martinsburg, WV. Here we have a small chain of Hot Dog Places called the Hot Dog Hut. There's nothing fancy about them but the do have really good hot dogs! Just off Interstae 81 at exit 14.