Ten Best: Local hot dogs

by Brian Clarey

The basics

July is National Hot Dog Month, but here in North Carolina we eat them all year long, usually graced with a slide of chili and a mound of finely chopped cole slaw. That’s how we do. Many of them are purchased on the street – both Greensboro and Winston-Salem have day- and nighttime purveyors of this American delicacy right out there on the sidewalks, the cheapest form of al fresco dining anywhere.

Fat Dogs

2503 Spring Garden St., Greensboro; 336.856.1364

Let’s start with the basics. Fat Dogs is an entire restaurant and sports bar dedicated, among other things, to the noble frankfurter. They’ve got all sorts of bar food on the menu, but nothing goes better with beer, pool and televised sports than the kind of meal you can eat with one hand. A menu full of options and side guarantees something for every hot dog lover.

Bill and Leah’s

265 W. Mountain St., Kernersville; 336.996.0676

On a tip from the Chowhound message board I took a trip out to K-Vegas for a bit of research. This is a real, old-fashioned Southern grill, with six deep fryers, a griddle and a line out the door during lunchtime. Again, big menu but the foot-long special is a favorite: one of those red, smoky hot dogs in a toasted, buttered bun layered with good chili and cold slaw, paired with seasoned, crinkle-cut fries and a drink for less than $4. Homemade ice cream, too. Can’t go wrong.


Greensboro and Winston-Salem

I’m trying to keep it local, here, but it can’t be denied that Costco makes a great dog – a quarter-pound kosher fat boy – and serves it with a Coke for $1.50, the cheapest lunch in town. No chili or slaw, but two kinds of mustard, onions chopped fresh by an ingenious machine and, if you ask, a cup of cold saurkraut. You can sub out Polish sausage for the same price.

Yum Yum’s

1219 Spring Garden St., Greensboro; 336.272.8284

You can’t have a discussion about hot dogs in the Triad without mentioning this joint, which has been providing slathered meatrockets to UNCG students, children, neighborhood folk and just about everybody else in town for generations. I’ll be honest: The dogs don’t do that much for me and I’ve had a bad time or two with the onions, but I’ll keep going back because my kids love it and their ice cream is the greatest.

JS Pulliam Barbeque

4358 Old Walkertown Road, Winston-Salem; 336.767.2211

I’ll take a tip from Ladybug61141 on the Chowhound message boards, who recommends Pulliam’s tubesteak with this qualifier: “The best hot dogs around here…. They have been doing it the same way for almost 100 years!!” The exclamation points, I assure you, are hers and not mine.

The Dog House

664 N. Main St., High Point; 336.886.4953

Again, this one came well recommended on the Chowhound boards. But I’ve never been to the Dog House, a veritable institution in downtown High Point. Patronized by locals most of the year, it has recently become a favorite among the Furniture Marketeers – the ones not on expense account – during the biannual interior design bacchanal.

Skippy’s Hot Dogs

624 W. 4th St., Winston Salem; 336.722.3442;

Let’s take it up a notch by introducing Skippy’s, just a short walk from our downtown Winston-Salem offices. They serve all manner of meatsicle, including Carolina style, a Reuben version and an authentic Chicago-style dog with relish, mustard, onion, peppers, pickle, tomato and celery salt. The fancy part is the bun, which is a pretzel roll made in house. They serve great hot pretzels, too.

Cone American Legion Post 16

1206 14th St., Greensboro; 336.375.3265

The annual Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest ended dramatically this year, with a tie after regulation between competitive-eating superstar Takeru Kobayashi and last year’s champion Joey Chestnut, who both finished 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Chestnut took the title in a five-dog sudden death overtime. But I’d like to bring both of them to the American Legion post, just a few blocks away from my house, on a Saturday and watch them go to work – all for a good cause.

Gray’s Tavern

343 S. Elm St., Greensboro; 336.617.5341;

Even Kobayashi and Chestnut couldn’t eat more than a dozen or so of the bacon cheddar dogs at Grey’s Tavern in downtown Greensboro. It begins with a half-pound beef hot dog, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with cheddar cheese, then wrapped in bacon, battered and deep fried enough to crisp the bacon and get that cheese going. I myself was barely able to finish one.