Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Ma's Hot Dog House

 Hankering for new Carolina hot dog experience and headed to Emerald Isle, I decided to see what might be along the way. Kinston seemed to be a good place for lunch, and Ma's Hot Dog House caught my attention.

The eatery is an old store, the kind where you might picture older men playing checkers and smoking cigars. It still has the ambiance of an old country store, including the dirt/gravel parking lot--so you may want to visit before you clean your car's interior.

While it looks like an old country store, and they do sell soft drinks and other items, the main feature is the grill. Along with hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries, they also serve home-style meals with vegetables you don't often see at most "home-cooking" establishments.

We placed our order: two hot dogs for me, and a cheese burger for my husband. We also snuck in a taste of their squash and onions and a couple of diet Mountain Dews. No Coke products, despite some remaining hardware mentioning the brand.

The dining area feature several tables and chairs and a small lunch counter, but considering the times, we opted to eat outside. 

The hot dogs were good, if not astounding. Quite messy. The slaw was rather coarse, wet, and a bit sweeter than I'd prefer. It overwhelmed the chili. A little more kick would have been nice to balance the slaw. Not a bad dog, but not my favorite. 

The squash, similarly was fine, a bit over seasoned and under cooked for my taste. My husband did love his burger--and it was huge.

My verdict: three weenies.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Hope Valley Diner


First off, happy National Hot Dog Day. What better way to celebrate the day than to add a new Carolina Hot Dog review?

Most of the places I review are hot dog stands, burger joints, or other fast food establishments. 

Not this time. Hope Valley Diner is a respectable, full-service restaurant in southwest Durham. Rarely a week goes by that we don't pick up food or dine here on the sidewalk.

For years, I'd noticed that they had a Carolina hot dog on the menu. Footlong, no less. And their slaw is among the best I've ever had. Really awesome slaw. I've always been curious. So, I figured, "Why not?"

I ordered it... with sweet potato fries...

It looked so good. I topped it with the slaw, and took a bite. The slaw was perfect, as always. The weiner was a quality all-beef dog. the onions were spot on. Just the right amount of mustard. The chili, though, it really was the weakest element. Well, the chili or the fries. The chili looked delicious, but it really wasn't. It was quite disappointing.

Hope Valley Diner isn't a hot dog place, so it's not surprising that their hot dog isn't amazing. But with some improvements to the chili, it could be.

My verdict: 3 weeinies.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

El's Drive-In

 On our recent trip to Pine Knoll Shores, we experimented with two hot dog eateries. The second was El's Drive-In. This is not a stand, though not much bigger, but an honest to god drive-in. 

Servers come to you car, take your order, and bring you your food. I'm still about astounded at the number of steps these servers must get in a day. The parking lot is paved with no lines, and these servers make it look effortless to flit from car to car and back to the kitchen.

We arrived mid morning on a Saturday, and my husband ordered a bacon egg, and cheese, sandwich--with mayo, but I went straight for the dogs. Service was quick, and the food was very good.

A delicious Carolina Hot Dog

My hot dog had a pleasantly smoky flavor. At first, I thought it might be the chili, but as I thought about it over a few more bites, I believe the wiener itself was smoked. What a great idea. The chili was meaty, and the slaw, though a bit too sweet, was clearly homemade--chili and slaw both being crucial to a better Carolina dog.

The breakfast sandwich was also great. 

El's Drive-in is a definite do again next time we're in the area.

My verdict: 4 weenies.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Big Oak Drive-in & Bar-B-Q

Big Oak Drive-in

 My husband and I got the chance to break away for the weekend and decided to go to Pine Knoll Shores, a beach we do not normally haunt. The trip offered us the opportunity to try a new hot dog or two.

First up: Big Oak Drive-in & Bar-B-Q.

After searching for hot dogs near Emerald Isle, I read about this little barbecue and seafood joint. It's really an old fashioned fast food stand. Irresistible, right?

Featured in Our State magazine

Purely for research, ya know, I ordered a couple of dogs all-the-way. 

I love how these days all-the-way means mustard, slaw, chili, and onions. When I was a kid, all-the-way meant mustard, chili, and onions. But I digress.

So, I got my dog--and an oyster burger. Didn't care much for the oyster burger. In fact, I didn't finish it. I had hoped it would be like an oyster po boy in New Orleans. Not. But this is about the dogs!

Quite a contrast to the oyster burger, the dogs were delightful: a nice combination of meaty chili, homemade slaw, onions and mustard. The chili had a hint of spice, and the slaw was clearly fresh and homemade. All worked pretty well to make a nice Carolina hot dog.

Yummy Carolina Hot Dog

If you go, just know that there's no place to sit, cash only, and they don't post any closing time. If you're in the area, definitely a good place to grab a tasty dog. My hubby said the burger was great! And the fries were, too!

My verdict: 4 weenies