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Ashworth Drugs hot dogs
Robert Donovan

Tour North Carolina’s Old School Hot Dog Stands

Carolina style all the way

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Ashworth Drugs hot dogs
| Robert Donovan

The kids are out of school, the beach traffic is relentless, and the humidity is reaching shirt-soaking levels in Charleston. It’s summer in the Lowcountry, and sometimes you need to escape the chaos of the heat. There’s almost no other food more associated with summer than the hot dog.

Across North Carolina are a series of family owned hot dog joints in operation for decades. Stretching from the Outer Banks to the Piedmont, these places are serving hot dogs with chili, mustard, onions, and slaw with a side of nostalgia. Hit the road, grab a couple neon red dogs, a Cheerwine, and take in a century of culinary and cultural history. Bring cash — most of these places still run the cash register like they did 50 years ago.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Trolly Stop

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94 S Lumina Ave
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

Wrightsville beach classic The Trolly Stop first opened its doors in 1976. It’s changed owners a few times in the following 40 years, but it’s still serving up classic hotdogs in split top buns. Five different sausages to choose from include the New York City favorite Sabrett, a beef and pork dog called The Trolly, a smoked sausage, a turkey dog and, if it’s your thing, a veggie dog. Choose from 12 preconceived topping combinations like the classic Carolina (mustard, onions, chili, and slaw) or the Nuclear with jalapenos, melted cheese, and deli mustard. Of if you’d rather concoct your own, pile on any of their house-made toppings.

2. Paul’s Place

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11725 US-117
Rocky Point, NC 28457

Just north of Wilmington, at the intersection of Highway 117 and Old Blossom Ferry Road in Rocky Point sits a freestanding, stark white building with bold red lettering announcing Paul’s Place Famous Hot Dogs. Founded in 1928 by the Paul family as an Esso station that also sold barbecue and fried chicken, eventually hot dogs made it to the menu. During World War II, when meat was rationed, Beverly Paul came up with a sweet relish to substitute for chili. Described by Beverly's son David, who now runs the place, as a mix between rich barbecue sauce and sweet relish. It’s what they’re famous for and it is bottled and sold in grocery stores across the South. Instead of a typical Carolina dog with chili, mustard and onions, Paul’s swaps out the chili for their famous relish on the “all the way” dog.

The restaurant bucks the regional trend and doesn’t serve the dyed-red hot dogs typical to Eastern NC. The gas pumps are long gone and hot dogs are the business now. According to a recent short film on Paul’s, “Relish our Dogs”, they serve 8,000 hot dogs a week in the busy summer months. On Saturdays, Paul’s hosts a giant “lawn sale,” and Sundays are “hot dog hoedowns” with live music and rotating guest musicians.

3. Bill’s Hot Dog Stand

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109 Gladden St
Washington, NC 27889

If you were to pick a place that is the quintessential hot dog stand, Bill’s would be it. A small space in a building with a brick facade and red awnings feels transported from early last century, because it is. Founded in 1928, Bill’s moved once in 1938 and has been at the same Gladden Street location ever since. Bill’s serves hot dogs and that is it. Condiments are limited to mustard, onions, and a special spicy meatless off-white chili sauce.

North Carolina has a thing about Bright Red hot dogs. Almost all the neon red wieners you find are the Bright Leaf brand from Carolina Packers in Smithfield, NC. Bills takes these red dogs and fries them slightly crispy. They’re then slapped in a steamed bun and covered with that chile sauce and onions and wrapped in wax paper. Add a soft drink and some chips and take them to go. There is no seating at Bill’s. You’ll probably have to wait in a line, but it will be worth it.

4. Capt’n Franks Hot Dogs

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3800 N Croatan Hwy
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Capt’n Franks is a Kitty Hawk favorite of beach locals and weary tourist parents looking to feed their sandy kids. Opened by Harvey Hess in 1975, and still run by Harvey Jr. and the third, Capt’n Franks is an Outer Banks landmark of casual food to match the summer carefree beach mentality. Constantly packed with sandy, salt-crusted beach goers and tourists fresh off the Wright brother’s monument tour, Capt’n Franks is the classic hot dog stand.

Originally built in a somewhat remote part of the island surrounded by sand dunes, “progress” now sits it in the middle of condos, a shopping center, and beach houses. It serves Oscar Mayer wieners and a signature recipe natural casing “snap dog” for those that like a little bite to their dog. You can get a classic Carolina dog here, but they call it a Chicago. Good luck figuring that out. You’re on vacation so live a little, and get the Junkyard, loaded with “the works” or the spicy Mad Dog with chili, hot pepper relish and more peppers. Grab extra napkins. If you’re not in the mood for hot dogs (then why are you reading this) — Capt’n Franks serves some of the best steamed or fried shrimp on the OBX.

5. Dick’s Hot Dog Stand #1

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1500 Nash St NW
Wilson, NC 27893

Sitting on the corner of Nash and Pearson streets is a Wilson, NC, institution. Dick’s Hot Dog Stand has slung wieners for 96 years. Dick’s stands out amongst the brick ranchers, wrap-around porches, and tree-lined streets with signs proclaiming “Wilson’s Famous Landmark”, “Since 1921” and “Enjoyed by Millions”. Started by Greek immigrant Socrates Dick Giliarmis, it is now run by his son Lee and grandson “Soc” Socrates.

Dick’s isn’t big. There are five or six mustard yellow and lime green booths and a similar number of tables. If you’re flying solo, you can grab a seat at the counter on one of a few screw top stools. The walls are covered with faded photos of athletes, actors, and musicians who have eaten there, and “Mr. Frank,” an anthropomorphized plywood hot dog with white hat and gloves, greets customers as they walk in. Spend a lunch at Dick’s and you’ll quickly recognize it is the local’s place for business lunches, family gatherings, and post-sports re-fuels. Hotdogs, burgers, some Greek-inspired offerings like gyros, a few sandwiches, and some sides fill out the menu.

The Dick’s famous hot dog is topped with chili, mustard, and onions. The housemade chili is dry and mild and pairs well with the vinegar tang of yellow mustard. The hot dogs are fatter and shorter than typical bun length and are grilled and served in soft bun. Make sure to speak to Lee when visiting — he’s as much an institution as the restaurant.

6. Jones Lunch

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415 E Main St
Clayton, NC 27520

How do you stand out in a crowded field of Eastern NC hot dog joints that serve Bright Leaf red dogs? The way you cook them. In 1958, William Jones bought an old restaurant and turned it into Jones’s. The restaurant moved once but the method of cooking those red Bright Leaf hot dogs has remained the same. The dogs are slow cooked in a blend of oils and water, dropped into a sturdy bun, and topped with Steven’s chili from Smithfield, NC. The same town where Carolina Packers makes Bright Leafs. William’s grandson Burr and his wife Crystal are the current owners of Jones. They’re not looking to change the winning recipe of Jones Lunch. Still serving up hot dogs like his grandfather in a family friendly, small town atmosphere cafe.

7. Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs

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214 S White St
Wake Forest, NC 27587

It’s rare to find a 100-year-old restaurant, but Shorty’s is one of them. Opened in 1916, it’s no shock that Shorty’s is the oldest business in Wake Forest. Founded by H.E. Joyner, the business has stayed in the family and now, third- and fourth-generation Joyners, Bill and Chris are serving up hot dogs to the hungry masses. Rumor is that Shorty’s was one of Arnold Palmer’s favorite restaurants, which he frequented while attending school at Wake Forest (this was before Wake moved to Winston-Salem, NC). He even had his 80th Birthday party there.

Originally a movie theatre, Shorty’s converted to a pool hall when another theatre opened in town and still has a back room with pool tables. Up front is an old school diner feel with booths and a counter with screw top stools. Like many similar decades (or in this case century) old hot dog joints, the walls are covered in nostalgia. This includes an old menu board when hot dogs were 15 cents, BLTs were 25 cents, and sardines and crackers were 25 cents. Shorty’s serves Jesse Jones pork and chicken wieners.

Dogs are dyed a glowing red similar to the Bright Leafs from Carolina Packers. The menu also offer Nathan’s all beef dogs, if that’s your preference. Shorty’s grills the dogs and serves them in a soft steamed bun. Like most places, you can get it Carolina style with mustard, onions and its house-made chili or you can build your own.

8. The Roast Grill

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7 S West St
Raleigh, NC 27603

Serving “JUST HOT DOGS and “GLASS BOTTLE COKES” since 1940, The Roast Grill is a must-stop-in hot dog joint in downtown Raleigh. A sign outside hanging from the weathered olive green building advertises “HOT WIENERS”. It’s a tiny place with a few tables and a 12 seat counter that stretches the length of the restaurant. Covered in the familiar nostalgia from decades of existence, there’s also plenty of local team, NC State, fandom. Owner “Hot Dog George” Poniros’ grandparents emigrated from Greece in the 1920’s.They opened the Roast Grill in 1940, and George took over from his grandmother Mrs. Mary Charles when she retired.

A warning on the website says: “***A WORD OF**WARNING***!!---WE DO NOT SERVE: French Fries, Potato Chips, Ketchup, Cheese, Kraut, Pickles, Relish, Mayonnaise! ...we feel them to be terribly unnecessary and truly demeaning to the passions of a great hot dog connoisseur!”

And they mean it. You can get chili, mustard, onions, or slaw. Do not ask for ketchup. Signs tacked to the wall warn against it, and George is dead serious about how he serves a hot dog. The dogs are cooked on a small flat top a little larger than an album cover. Supposedly it’s the original grill from 1940. The dogs are cooked to whatever level of char or burnt you want. Light to black. Their motto is “We burn ‘em for you!”. George has the wieners shipped in from Michigan. They are a 90/10 beef/pork blend. Served in a toasted bun with their house chili made from George’s grandfather’s recipe — a recipe older than the restaurant. The only exception to the” hot dogs only” rule are Mrs. Charles’ house-made baklava and pound cake. Get there early because there’s almost always a line out the door.

9. Ashworth Drugs

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105 W Chatham St
Cary, NC 27511

Getting a hot dog at Ashworth Drugs is a throwback to the days when soda fountains were a favored gathering spot. Ashworth Drugs has been opened since Easter Monday, 1957, after the Ashworth family purchased the Henry Adams pharmacy. It still has the feel of a 1950s soda fountain with a long service counter and high backed vinyl stools.

The menu includes soda fountain staples like egg, tuna, and chicken salad sandwiches, pimento cheese, and club sandwiches, but hot dogs are their best seller. Ashworth serves the familiar bright red hot dogs that are almost ubiquitous to eastern North Carolina. It run specials on Wednesday and Saturday when two hot dogs are $3.00 and on Friday, two hot dogs, chips, and a soda are $5.00. Hard to find a deal like that anywhere.

10. Zack’s Hotdogs

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201 W Davis St
Burlington, NC 27215

Another long-standing hot dog joint founded by Greek immigrants, Zack’s has been serving hot dogs to Burlington, NC, patrons for almost 90 years. Zack Touloupas came to the United States in 1912 and eventually ended up in North Carolina in the 1920s. He purchased the Alamance County Hot Weiner Lunch hot dog stand in 1928. In 1977, the business moved to its current location at the corner of Davis and Worth Streets.

Today, Zack Touloupas, named for his grandfather, runs the business. Often referred to as the most popular restaurant in Burlington, Zack’s can serve up to 2000 hot dogs on a busy day. The kitchen takes pride in its speed. From order to walking out the door can be as quick as under a minute.

The most expensive thing on the menu is under $5.50 and hot dogs are just $1.61. Fast, cheap, and good. Like many of these long-operating hot dog joints Zack’s serves its hot dogs Carolina style. Mustard, onions, house-made chili from Zack Sr.’s recipe, and slaw. The hot dogs are Curtis Franks from Curtis Packing in nearby Greensboro. If you need to branch out you can get the pedantically odd named cheese dog which is a block of cheese on a bun, no wieners. Or get the popular “Combination” which is a slice of cheese in a bun with a wiener and topped with chili. Spice it up with some hot sauce made from Zack Sr.’s recipe. Tables are first come first serve, so be prepared to snag one as soon as you get there.

11. Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Hot Dogs

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1219 Spring Garden St
Greensboro, NC 27403

Vying for the oldest, continually running hot dog joint in North Carolina, Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Hot Dogs began business in Greensboro in 1906 when Wisdom Brown Aydelette served ice cream and peanuts from a push cart.

Now located at 1219 Spring Garden St., on the edge of UNC-Greensboro, Yum Yum has long been a favorite of students and locals. There’s a full-fledged ice cream production facility in the back. All the ice cream served is made in house. The hot dogs are Bright Leaf “red dogs,” and they’re served steamed to glowing red with soft steamed buns. Get them all the way with house-made chili and slaw, mustard, and onions.

12. Kermit’s Hot Dog House

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2220 Thomasville Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27107

Not named after a green frog, Kermit’s is an enduring Winston-Salem hot dog paragon. Kermit Williams opened for business in 1966 a block down the street from its current location on Thomasville road. Kermit’s is now run by his son Buster and business partner Paul Church. The “new” location is in an old A&W drive-in restaurant that offers curbside service to this day.

Drive up, pick a spot under the canopy, turn on the parking lights, and a carhop will be out to take an order post-haste. If eating in the car isn’t your thing, there’s seating inside the 1950’s red, white, and blue color schemed throwback building. Kermit’s serves breakfast and has hamburgers on the menu, but you are here for the hot dogs.. Confusingly, Kermit’s lists their dogs under “sandwiches,” but we’ll let that slide. Following the traditions of North Carolina wiener institutions, get one all the way and you get mustard, chili, onions, and slaw. There’s also a cheese dog with “Kermit’s famous” pimento cheese spread.

13. J.S. Pulliam Barbecue

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4400 Old Walkertown Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27105

Way out on Walkerstown Road, past the small regional airport in Winston-Salem is J.S. Pulliams Barbecue. Visitors can go for the barbecue, but hot dogs are the reason people go to Pulliams. Open for more than a century (a sign on the building says 1910), Pulliams does business from an old black and white striped shack with a huge Cheerwine sign over the front door. Inside the walls are covered in an archive of NASCAR souvenirs and memorabilia. NASCAR, barbecue, bright red hotdogs and Cheerwine? It doesn’t get more North Carolina than that.

The red dogs are griddled to a slight char on a flat top and served in a buttery, golden, griddled bun. Get one all the way (you know this by now: chili, mustard, onions and slaw) and eat it standing over the counter or take it outside and eat in a small grove of old tree stumps. Pulliams mild chili and homemade white slaw are great but you might want to spice it up a bit. Texas Pete hot sauce is ever-present in North Carolina restaurants (it’s made 2 miles away on Indiana Avenue in Winston-Salem).

Not finding Texas Pete in a NC barbecue or hot dog joint is a rare experience. But Pulliams has their own hot sauce labeled “Big Ed’s,” and it’s worth adding for a kick. It comes in mild or extremely hot. Give the extremely hot a go. Make sure to grab an ice cold glass-bottled Cheerwine from the cooler.

14. Green’s Lunch

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309 W 4th St
Charlotte, NC 28202

The neon sign in the window at Green’s Lunch proclaims, “Charlotte’s Best Hot Dogs.” It may be right, as Green’s is consistently voted best in town. One claim it definitely owns is Charlotte’s longest-running restaurant. Robert Green purchased an old 12-seat lunch counter in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward in 1926, and it has slung wieners in downtown Charlotte for the last 90 years. The restaurant has changed hands a few times and eventually ended up under the management of proprietor Phillip Katopodis.

Katopodis’ daughter Joanna Sikiotis now runs Green’s in the shadow of Charlotte’s skyscrapers. A relic of old Charlotte when the roads were dirt is still holding on. Serving boiled dogs nestled in steamed buns, Green’s breaks the NC tradition by offering ketchup, sauerkraut and pickle relish as toppings in addition to house-made chili and slaw, mustard, and onions..

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1. The Trolly Stop

94 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

Wrightsville beach classic The Trolly Stop first opened its doors in 1976. It’s changed owners a few times in the following 40 years, but it’s still serving up classic hotdogs in split top buns. Five different sausages to choose from include the New York City favorite Sabrett, a beef and pork dog called The Trolly, a smoked sausage, a turkey dog and, if it’s your thing, a veggie dog. Choose from 12 preconceived topping combinations like the classic Carolina (mustard, onions, chili, and slaw) or the Nuclear with jalapenos, melted cheese, and deli mustard. Of if you’d rather concoct your own, pile on any of their house-made toppings.

94 S Lumina Ave
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

2. Paul’s Place

11725 US-117, Rocky Point, NC 28457

Just north of Wilmington, at the intersection of Highway 117 and Old Blossom Ferry Road in Rocky Point sits a freestanding, stark white building with bold red lettering announcing Paul’s Place Famous Hot Dogs. Founded in 1928 by the Paul family as an Esso station that also sold barbecue and fried chicken, eventually hot dogs made it to the menu. During World War II, when meat was rationed, Beverly Paul came up with a sweet relish to substitute for chili. Described by Beverly's son David, who now runs the place, as a mix between rich barbecue sauce and sweet relish. It’s what they’re famous for and it is bottled and sold in grocery stores across the South. Instead of a typical Carolina dog with chili, mustard and onions, Paul’s swaps out the chili for their famous relish on the “all the way” dog.

The restaurant bucks the regional trend and doesn’t serve the dyed-red hot dogs typical to Eastern NC. The gas pumps are long gone and hot dogs are the business now. According to a recent short film on Paul’s, “Relish our Dogs”, they serve 8,000 hot dogs a week in the busy summer months. On Saturdays, Paul’s hosts a giant “lawn sale,” and Sundays are “hot dog hoedowns” with live music and rotating guest musicians.

11725 US-117
Rocky Point, NC 28457

3. Bill’s Hot Dog Stand

109 Gladden St, Washington, NC 27889

If you were to pick a place that is the quintessential hot dog stand, Bill’s would be it. A small space in a building with a brick facade and red awnings feels transported from early last century, because it is. Founded in 1928, Bill’s moved once in 1938 and has been at the same Gladden Street location ever since. Bill’s serves hot dogs and that is it. Condiments are limited to mustard, onions, and a special spicy meatless off-white chili sauce.

North Carolina has a thing about Bright Red hot dogs. Almost all the neon red wieners you find are the Bright Leaf brand from Carolina Packers in Smithfield, NC. Bills takes these red dogs and fries them slightly crispy. They’re then slapped in a steamed bun and covered with that chile sauce and onions and wrapped in wax paper. Add a soft drink and some chips and take them to go. There is no seating at Bill’s. You’ll probably have to wait in a line, but it will be worth it.

109 Gladden St
Washington, NC 27889

4. Capt’n Franks Hot Dogs

3800 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Capt’n Franks is a Kitty Hawk favorite of beach locals and weary tourist parents looking to feed their sandy kids. Opened by Harvey Hess in 1975, and still run by Harvey Jr. and the third, Capt’n Franks is an Outer Banks landmark of casual food to match the summer carefree beach mentality. Constantly packed with sandy, salt-crusted beach goers and tourists fresh off the Wright brother’s monument tour, Capt’n Franks is the classic hot dog stand.

Originally built in a somewhat remote part of the island surrounded by sand dunes, “progress” now sits it in the middle of condos, a shopping center, and beach houses. It serves Oscar Mayer wieners and a signature recipe natural casing “snap dog” for those that like a little bite to their dog. You can get a classic Carolina dog here, but they call it a Chicago. Good luck figuring that out. You’re on vacation so live a little, and get the Junkyard, loaded with “the works” or the spicy Mad Dog with chili, hot pepper relish and more peppers. Grab extra napkins. If you’re not in the mood for hot dogs (then why are you reading this) — Capt’n Franks serves some of the best steamed or fried shrimp on the OBX.

3800 N Croatan Hwy
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

5. Dick’s Hot Dog Stand #1

1500 Nash St NW, Wilson, NC 27893

Sitting on the corner of Nash and Pearson streets is a Wilson, NC, institution. Dick’s Hot Dog Stand has slung wieners for 96 years. Dick’s stands out amongst the brick ranchers, wrap-around porches, and tree-lined streets with signs proclaiming “Wilson’s Famous Landmark”, “Since 1921” and “Enjoyed by Millions”. Started by Greek immigrant Socrates Dick Giliarmis, it is now run by his son Lee and grandson “Soc” Socrates.

Dick’s isn’t big. There are five or six mustard yellow and lime green booths and a similar number of tables. If you’re flying solo, you can grab a seat at the counter on one of a few screw top stools. The walls are covered with faded photos of athletes, actors, and musicians who have eaten there, and “Mr. Frank,” an anthropomorphized plywood hot dog with white hat and gloves, greets customers as they walk in. Spend a lunch at Dick’s and you’ll quickly recognize it is the local’s place for business lunches, family gatherings, and post-sports re-fuels. Hotdogs, burgers, some Greek-inspired offerings like gyros, a few sandwiches, and some sides fill out the menu.

The Dick’s famous hot dog is topped with chili, mustard, and onions. The housemade chili is dry and mild and pairs well with the vinegar tang of yellow mustard. The hot dogs are fatter and shorter than typical bun length and are grilled and served in soft bun. Make sure to speak to Lee when visiting — he’s as much an institution as the restaurant.

1500 Nash St NW
Wilson, NC 27893

6. Jones Lunch

415 E Main St, Clayton, NC 27520

How do you stand out in a crowded field of Eastern NC hot dog joints that serve Bright Leaf red dogs? The way you cook them. In 1958, William Jones bought an old restaurant and turned it into Jones’s. The restaurant moved once but the method of cooking those red Bright Leaf hot dogs has remained the same. The dogs are slow cooked in a blend of oils and water, dropped into a sturdy bun, and topped with Steven’s chili from Smithfield, NC. The same town where Carolina Packers makes Bright Leafs. William’s grandson Burr and his wife Crystal are the current owners of Jones. They’re not looking to change the winning recipe of Jones Lunch. Still serving up hot dogs like his grandfather in a family friendly, small town atmosphere cafe.

415 E Main St
Clayton, NC 27520

7. Shorty’s Famous Hot Dogs

214 S White St, Wake Forest, NC 27587

It’s rare to find a 100-year-old restaurant, but Shorty’s is one of them. Opened in 1916, it’s no shock that Shorty’s is the oldest business in Wake Forest. Founded by H.E. Joyner, the business has stayed in the family and now, third- and fourth-generation Joyners, Bill and Chris are serving up hot dogs to the hungry masses. Rumor is that Shorty’s was one of Arnold Palmer’s favorite restaurants, which he frequented while attending school at Wake Forest (this was before Wake moved to Winston-Salem, NC). He even had his 80th Birthday party there.

Originally a movie theatre, Shorty’s converted to a pool hall when another theatre opened in town and still has a back room with pool tables. Up front is an old school diner feel with booths and a counter with screw top stools. Like many similar decades (or in this case century) old hot dog joints, the walls are covered in nostalgia. This includes an old menu board when hot dogs were 15 cents, BLTs were 25 cents, and sardines and crackers were 25 cents. Shorty’s serves Jesse Jones pork and chicken wieners.

Dogs are dyed a glowing red similar to the Bright Leafs from Carolina Packers. The menu also offer Nathan’s all beef dogs, if that’s your preference. Shorty’s grills the dogs and serves them in a soft steamed bun. Like most places, you can get it Carolina style with mustard, onions and its house-made chili or you can build your own.

214 S White St
Wake Forest, NC 27587

8. The Roast Grill

7 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Serving “JUST HOT DOGS and “GLASS BOTTLE COKES” since 1940, The Roast Grill is a must-stop-in hot dog joint in downtown Raleigh. A sign outside hanging from the weathered olive green building advertises “HOT WIENERS”. It’s a tiny place with a few tables and a 12 seat counter that stretches the length of the restaurant. Covered in the familiar nostalgia from decades of existence, there’s also plenty of local team, NC State, fandom. Owner “Hot Dog George” Poniros’ grandparents emigrated from Greece in the 1920’s.They opened the Roast Grill in 1940, and George took over from his grandmother Mrs. Mary Charles when she retired.

A warning on the website says: “***A WORD OF**WARNING***!!---WE DO NOT SERVE: French Fries, Potato Chips, Ketchup, Cheese, Kraut, Pickles, Relish, Mayonnaise! ...we feel them to be terribly unnecessary and truly demeaning to the passions of a great hot dog connoisseur!”

And they mean it. You can get chili, mustard, onions, or slaw. Do not ask for ketchup. Signs tacked to the wall warn against it, and George is dead serious about how he serves a hot dog. The dogs are cooked on a small flat top a little larger than an album cover. Supposedly it’s the original grill from 1940. The dogs are cooked to whatever level of char or burnt you want. Light to black. Their motto is “We burn ‘em for you!”. George has the wieners shipped in from Michigan. They are a 90/10 beef/pork blend. Served in a toasted bun with their house chili made from George’s grandfather’s recipe — a recipe older than the restaurant. The only exception to the” hot dogs only” rule are Mrs. Charles’ house-made baklava and pound cake. Get there early because there’s almost always a line out the door.

7 S West St
Raleigh, NC 27603

9. Ashworth Drugs

105 W Chatham St, Cary, NC 27511

Getting a hot dog at Ashworth Drugs is a throwback to the days when soda fountains were a favored gathering spot. Ashworth Drugs has been opened since Easter Monday, 1957, after the Ashworth family purchased the Henry Adams pharmacy. It still has the feel of a 1950s soda fountain with a long service counter and high backed vinyl stools.

The menu includes soda fountain staples like egg, tuna, and chicken salad sandwiches, pimento cheese, and club sandwiches, but hot dogs are their best seller. Ashworth serves the familiar bright red hot dogs that are almost ubiquitous to eastern North Carolina. It run specials on Wednesday and Saturday when two hot dogs are $3.00 and on Friday, two hot dogs, chips, and a soda are $5.00. Hard to find a deal like that anywhere.

105 W Chatham St
Cary, NC 27511

10. Zack’s Hotdogs

201 W Davis St, Burlington, NC 27215

Another long-standing hot dog joint founded by Greek immigrants, Zack’s has been serving hot dogs to Burlington, NC, patrons for almost 90 years. Zack Touloupas came to the United States in 1912 and eventually ended up in North Carolina in the 1920s. He purchased the Alamance County Hot Weiner Lunch hot dog stand in 1928. In 1977, the business moved to its current location at the corner of Davis and Worth Streets.

Today, Zack Touloupas, named for his grandfather, runs the business. Often referred to as the most popular restaurant in Burlington, Zack’s can serve up to 2000 hot dogs on a busy day. The kitchen takes pride in its speed. From order to walking out the door can be as quick as under a minute.

The most expensive thing on the menu is under $5.50 and hot dogs are just $1.61. Fast, cheap, and good. Like many of these long-operating hot dog joints Zack’s serves its hot dogs Carolina style. Mustard, onions, house-made chili from Zack Sr.’s recipe, and slaw. The hot dogs are Curtis Franks from Curtis Packing in nearby Greensboro. If you need to branch out you can get the pedantically odd named cheese dog which is a block of cheese on a bun, no wieners. Or get the popular “Combination” which is a slice of cheese in a bun with a wiener and topped with chili. Spice it up with some hot sauce made from Zack Sr.’s recipe. Tables are first come first serve, so be prepared to snag one as soon as you get there.

201 W Davis St
Burlington, NC 27215

11. Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Hot Dogs

1219 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, NC 27403

Vying for the oldest, continually running hot dog joint in North Carolina, Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Hot Dogs began business in Greensboro in 1906 when Wisdom Brown Aydelette served ice cream and peanuts from a push cart.

Now located at 1219 Spring Garden St., on the edge of UNC-Greensboro, Yum Yum has long been a favorite of students and locals. There’s a full-fledged ice cream production facility in the back. All the ice cream served is made in house. The hot dogs are Bright Leaf “red dogs,” and they’re served steamed to glowing red with soft steamed buns. Get them all the way with house-made chili and slaw, mustard, and onions.

1219 Spring Garden St
Greensboro, NC 27403

12. Kermit’s Hot Dog House

2220 Thomasville Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27107

Not named after a green frog, Kermit’s is an enduring Winston-Salem hot dog paragon. Kermit Williams opened for business in 1966 a block down the street from its current location on Thomasville road. Kermit’s is now run by his son Buster and business partner Paul Church. The “new” location is in an old A&W drive-in restaurant that offers curbside service to this day.

Drive up, pick a spot under the canopy, turn on the parking lights, and a carhop will be out to take an order post-haste. If eating in the car isn’t your thing, there’s seating inside the 1950’s red, white, and blue color schemed throwback building. Kermit’s serves breakfast and has hamburgers on the menu, but you are here for the hot dogs.. Confusingly, Kermit’s lists their dogs under “sandwiches,” but we’ll let that slide. Following the traditions of North Carolina wiener institutions, get one all the way and you get mustard, chili, onions, and slaw. There’s also a cheese dog with “Kermit’s famous” pimento cheese spread.

2220 Thomasville Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27107

13. J.S. Pulliam Barbecue

4400 Old Walkertown Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27105

Way out on Walkerstown Road, past the small regional airport in Winston-Salem is J.S. Pulliams Barbecue. Visitors can go for the barbecue, but hot dogs are the reason people go to Pulliams. Open for more than a century (a sign on the building says 1910), Pulliams does business from an old black and white striped shack with a huge Cheerwine sign over the front door. Inside the walls are covered in an archive of NASCAR souvenirs and memorabilia. NASCAR, barbecue, bright red hotdogs and Cheerwine? It doesn’t get more North Carolina than that.

The red dogs are griddled to a slight char on a flat top and served in a buttery, golden, griddled bun. Get one all the way (you know this by now: chili, mustard, onions and slaw) and eat it standing over the counter or take it outside and eat in a small grove of old tree stumps. Pulliams mild chili and homemade white slaw are great but you might want to spice it up a bit. Texas Pete hot sauce is ever-present in North Carolina restaurants (it’s made 2 miles away on Indiana Avenue in Winston-Salem).

Not finding Texas Pete in a NC barbecue or hot dog joint is a rare experience. But Pulliams has their own hot sauce labeled “Big Ed’s,” and it’s worth adding for a kick. It comes in mild or extremely hot. Give the extremely hot a go. Make sure to grab an ice cold glass-bottled Cheerwine from the cooler.

4400 Old Walkertown Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27105

14. Green’s Lunch

309 W 4th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

The neon sign in the window at Green’s Lunch proclaims, “Charlotte’s Best Hot Dogs.” It may be right, as Green’s is consistently voted best in town. One claim it definitely owns is Charlotte’s longest-running restaurant. Robert Green purchased an old 12-seat lunch counter in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward in 1926, and it has slung wieners in downtown Charlotte for the last 90 years. The restaurant has changed hands a few times and eventually ended up under the management of proprietor Phillip Katopodis.

Katopodis’ daughter Joanna Sikiotis now runs Green’s in the shadow of Charlotte’s skyscrapers. A relic of old Charlotte when the roads were dirt is still holding on. Serving boiled dogs nestled in steamed buns, Green’s breaks the NC tradition by offering ketchup, sauerkraut and pickle relish as toppings in addition to house-made chili and slaw, mustard, and onions..

309 W 4th St
Charlotte, NC 28202

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