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Hot Dog Cafe

1603 Inman Rd., Wellford, SC - (864) 439-3647
Posted By Michael Stern on 7/7/2014 2:53:00 AM
Dixie classics: plump, pink weenies nestled in steamed-soft buns. They are lackluster unadorned, but topped with chili and slaw, these hot dogs are sublime. The chili is thick and meaty, not pepper-hot but just-right spicy to bring out the porky succulence of the tube steak it smothers. Sweet slaw on top completes the flavor and adds a welcome measure of cabbage crunch. It’s a well-nigh perfect package – not the least bit artisan or upscale; in fact, I would call it cheap-tasting – an appraisal meant in the most complementary way. When the craving for one of these well-dressed critters strikes, prime beefsteak will not fill the bill.

If you want even more, have a dump dog. That is the house name for the same wiener in the same bun, dressed not only with chili and slaw but also with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chopped onion, and shredded cheese. It’s kaleidoscopic and killer-good.

Hamburgers are not second-class citizens of the Hot Dog Café menu. They are large, hand-formed patties, thick enough to be plenty juicy even if they are cooked through. I like mine with nothing but lettuce, tomato, and onion; but of course, cheese, chili, slaw, et. al. also are available

Other than sandwiches of thick-cut, deep-fried bologna, French fries are probably the most interesting item on the menu. Raw, skin-on potatoes are cut one by one on a vintage potato slicer and tossed directly into boiling oil. The result is fries with a full spuddy flavor, albeit lacking the crunch of ones that have been chilled and twice-fried.

The dessert selection is right in front of you at the order counter: cellophane-wrapped wedges of factory-made fruit pie, pecan pie, and Moon Pies. I likely would have skipped this course were it not for a sign on the wall above the counter advertising a “Hot Moon Pie.” It is a simple idea, and a good one. The pie is removed from its wrapper and put into the same steam cabinet used to heat buns. The marshmallow inside the Moon Pie doesn’t quite liquefy, but it softens, as do the cookie layers; and the dark chocolate coat develops an inviting oily sheen.

Roadfood aficionados will love this jolly place with its semi-al fresco dining porch up front and no-nonsense staff of good ol’ country girls inside. You get a number when you place an order and pay, and it is a pleasure to wait and observe the bustle of efficient women cutting and frying potatoes, dressing dogs, flipping burgers, and alternately steaming hot dog buns and Moon Pies.

Note that the phone number of the Hot Dog Café is 439-DOGS.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Dump Dog
Hamburger
Chili Slaw Dog
Hot Moon Pie
French Fries
Sweet Tea
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Hot dog equanimity, southern-style: soft bun, plump weenie, meaty chili, creamy-sweet slaw
"Hot dog equanimity, southern-style: soft bun, plump weenie, meaty chili, creamy-sweet slaw"
Michael Stern





Whole raw potatoes at left, potato slicer in center, fry kettle on the right: farm to Fryolator to table
"Whole raw potatoes at left, potato slicer in center, fry kettle on the right: farm to Fryolator to table"
Michael Stern


The 'Dump Dog' is topped with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chili, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and cole slaw.
"The 'Dump Dog' is topped with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chili, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and cole slaw."
Michael Stern


Hamburgers at the Hot Dog Cafe are not an afterthought. They are plump and juicy, available with lettuce, tomato and onion (pictured here) or 'all the way,' with mustard, chili, and onions.
"Hamburgers at the Hot Dog Cafe are not an afterthought. They are plump and juicy, available with lettuce, tomato and onion (pictured here) or 'all the way,' with mustard, chili, and onions."
Michael Stern


Moon pies attain a new level of sweet indulgence when they are briefly heated in the steam box.
"Moon pies attain a new level of sweet indulgence when they are briefly heated in the steam box."
Michael Stern


French fries are cut and cooked constantly from 11am, when the Hot Dog Cafe opens for business.
"French fries are cut and cooked constantly from 11am, when the Hot Dog Cafe opens for business."
Michael Stern


This modest country-crossroads cafe is a Roadfood classic.
"This modest country-crossroads cafe is a Roadfood classic."
Michael Stern


French fries are as fresh as can be.
"French fries are as fresh as can be."
Michael Stern


Stools on the semi-al fresco porch afford a view of the road outside.
"Stools on the semi-al fresco porch afford a view of the road outside."
Michael Stern


The Hot Dog Cafe has been open since the mid 1990s. In that time it has become a beacon for all who hunt good regional wieners.
"The Hot Dog Cafe has been open since the mid 1990s. In that time it has become a beacon for all who hunt good regional wieners."
Michael Stern


Excellent advice if you are a hot dog lover!
"Excellent advice if you are a hot dog lover!"
Michael Stern



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