A monthly roundup of ethnic eats, counter service chow and other tasty bargains. This month, we sniff out some of the area’s top dogs. As luck would have it, it’s National Hot Dog Day on July 18, when we all celebrate the staple of summer.
105 West Chatham St., Cary
Relish this: Dogs come with a heaping helping of nostalgia at this old-time drugstore lunch counter. With dogs fetching just $1.85 (two for $3 on Wednesdays and Saturdays), you can splurge on a fresh squeezed orangeade to go with your dogs, and an old-fashioned milkshake for dessert.
Bull City Burger & Brewery
107 E. Parrish St., Suite 105, Durham
Relish this: Who says hot dogs can’t be gourmet? At this downtown Durham spot, they’re made in house from pasture-raised North Carolina beef and served on a house-baked bun. The toppings — house-cured bacon, triple-fermented sauerkraut, even the mustard — are homemade.
713 N. West St., Raleigh
Relish this: “Sneaky good dogs” — Nathan’s Famous dogs steamed in whatever local beer is on tap and served on a New England-style bun brushed with mayo and griddled — have earned a cult-like following at this downtown dive bar.
Besides the usual topping suspects, dive bar-worthy alternatives include Sriracha, cheddar cheese, bacon and jalapeños.
Cloos’ Coney Island
2233 Avent Ferry Road, Suite 102, Raleigh
Relish this: You can get anything from Polish sausage to loose ground beef on a hot dog bun at Cloos’, but what you want is the Coney dog. That’s the hometown specialty of Detroit native Daniel Cloos, who been serving up the real deal — natural casing dogs topped with Detroit style chili, onions and mustard — since 1988.
The Roast Grill
7 S. West St., Raleigh
Relish this: Dogs are grilled old school style at this legendary local institution founded in 1940. You can even get your dog “burned” to a charred fare-thee-well on the shop’s original grill. If it’s your first visit, you need to know two things: Bring cash (they don’t take plastic), and don’t ask for ketchup.
107 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
Relish this: Variety — everything from deep-fried Southern style “red” dog to the all beef Slaw Dog with house-made 16-ingredient chili — make this a college town favorite. They’re rumored to make an excellent smashed burger, too, but after a couple of dogs (they come with a generous pile of fries), I’m always too full to try one.