In New York, there’s a pizza shop on every block. Barbecue never goes dry in Memphis. Maryland, though no longer a colony, is still ruled by King Crab.
And in Huntington, there’s hardly a street without a hot dog stand.
Deep in the land of the Southern West Virginian hot dog, the Jewel City is home to a variety of hot dog stands.
In fact, it’s the crown city for the state’s Hot Dog Festival, which falls on the last Saturday of July—National Hot Dog Month.
The festival, going into its 13th year as of July 29, 2017, is a family-friendly event downtown in Huntington’s Pullman Square, located on Third Avenue and Ninth Streets. With a “bun run,” a dachshund race and a hot dog eating contest, the festival is ground-zero for the region’s love of everything hot dog.
Proceeds from the festival go to benefit the Hoop’s Family Children’s Hospital, a part of Cabell-Huntington Hospital.
Remember, it’s not just any hot dog—it’s the Southern West Virginian hot dog. Which means chili sauce, mustard, diced onions and coleslaw on a steamed bun—so keep the ketchup and relish at home!
Here’s five must eat stands for another trip to Huntington
1. Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs
Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs is the first drive-in restaurant to open its doors in Huntington in 1932. While now a Huntington hot dog lover’s staple, Stewart’s didn’t start out that way; the restaurant sold only root beer and popcorn its first year.
Established by John Louis Mandt and his wife, Gertrude, the restaurant is still owned by the family today. John Mandt Jr., the fourth-generation owner of the stand, also kicked off the first West Virginia Hot Dog Festival in 2005.
The restaurant is located at 2445 Fifth Avenue in Huntington, with another location in nearby Kenova.
At one time, Frostop dotted the American landscape, with 350 locations from Florida to Washington state. Today, only of the drive-ins remain—and Huntington’s happens to be one of them!
Its root beer floats, burgers, and milk shakes, along with its late Eisenhower-administration décor makes you feel like you just stepped into an Archie Comic. But its sauce and slaw dogs let you know you are still in West Virginia.
Frostop is located at 1449 Hal Greer Blvd. in Huntington. Don’t bother plugging it into GPS—just take the Hal Greer exit off I-64.
With a mug like that, you can’t miss it.
3. Midway Drive-in
The Midway isn’t the first hot-dog stand in Huntington and it isn’t the most well-known. Ask any local where to scarf down a good dog and Midway almost always is mentioned.
Tucked away in a largely residential section of the West-end, the Midway Diner has been serving hot dogs, along with a variety other comfort foods and ice creams treats, since 1939.
For those who don’t feel like eating in their car, there’s a lunch counter inside, usually with a copy of The Herald Dispatch opened for perusing. The Midway Dinner is located at 445 Sixth Avenue West, next to the Colonial Lanes Bowling Alley.
4. Sam’s Hot Dog Stand
While Frostop might be the last vestige of an old chain, you might have seen Sam’s Hotdog Stand without setting foot in Huntington. With 45 locations in Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina, Sam’s has become a regional chain in the Appalachian south.
But it all started in Huntington, when West Virginia native Frank Lucente was able to get a chili sauce recipe from an elderly woman in his hometown. After conferring with a Huntington chef, the two improved the recipe and opened the first Sam’s Hotdog Stand in 1983.
Sam’s can be found at 2885 Fifth Avenue and at 4450 Piedmont Road in Huntington.
5. Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Hillbilly Hot Dogs isn’t in Huntington, but its close enough to make the list. Located on Route 2 in Lesage, just northeast of the city, Hillbilly Hot Dogs isn’t just a hot dog stand. It’s a bona fide roadside attraction.
With rickety out houses, rusted up cars and lawn ornaments made from rubbish, the restaurant is an amusing stop for a family looking to get a bite to eat while driving between Huntington and Point Pleasant—home of the Mothman.
Hillbilly Hot Dogs also cooks up the biggest dog on the list—The Homewrecker. Weighing in at one pound and 15 inches long, the Homewrecker is liable to keep you full for days.