A few days ago, I searched Yelp for hot dog establishments in the area. I do that from time to time to keep up to date in my quest for the perfect dog. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a new hot dog restaurant in Chapel Hill.
If you're a pedestrian in Chapel Hill, Hot Dogs & Brew is easy to get to, but if you drive, it takes a bit more effort to find a good parking space. I parked in the garage near the old Post Office and took Post Office Alley to get to Franklin Street. Other than having to pay for parking, not a bad place to park--when the garage isn't full.
The store front it self isn't much to speak of: a blue awning with the name. The half windows sport a sign that reads "GRILLED HOT DOGS." It's clean and new, not much character... yet. Only the chalk sign on the sidewalk indicates this might be worth checking out.
Inside, it's clean and spacious, a long room with tables and a couple of big screen televisions. Walking in, I felt a twinge of nostalgia. The layout is similar to the legendary Amos 'N Andy; the decor is not. It's much brighter and doesn't have wooden school desks.
The woman taking orders was friendly and could tell it was my first time there. We chatted a bit about hot dogs, and she asked about my favorites. She promised that Hot Dogs & Brew would be my new favorite.
The menu is a colorful chalk board with several "specialties," including one called Carolina's Favorite: mustard, slaw, chili, and onions. Of course I ordered one of those, and I had to try the Spicy Redneck: bacon, jalapenos, slaw and chili--as well. I took a seat and waited for my dogs to arrive.
After a bit, the woman who took my order delivered my dogs to my table. They looked good. In fact, thinking about them today makes me hungry again.
I tried the Carolina's Favorite first. The bun wasn't steamed, but it was fairly fresh, so it was soft enough. The first taste I got was sweet, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The sweet came from the slaw, which was not homemade, sadly. The chili and onions, though, almost made up for the slaw. It was a darn good hot dog. I'd have it next time without the slaw--unless they take my advice and make their slaw fresh daily.
Like the Carolina's Favorite, the Spicy Redneck suffered from the slaw. Otherwise, the chili, bacon, and jalapeno were tasty combination.
The prices are a little steeper than most, in keeping with the prime location: $2.50 & $3.25. Good for the expected lunch and dinner, but I'm betting most of their business will be late night; they're open until 3AM on weekends. All in all, Hot Dogs & Brew has pretty good hot dogs. They could be great with a little freshly made coleslaw.
My verdict: 3 weenies
UPDATE: Sadly, the lack of homemade slaw may have done them in. This hot dog stand is history.