Low Country Eateries Offer a Wide Variety of Hotdogs Catering From Classic to Zany Appetites
Jeff Walker, Food & Beverage Writer
Arguably hamburgers with or without cheese, stacked two and three high are the number one comfort food in America. It's estimated that we eat over 50 billion (yes billion) burgers in America each and every year. From fast food joints, mom & pops, roadside diners, and chain steakhouses, Americans love to their burgers.
While burgers often warrant marquee attraction, not so much for their all beef tubular co-stars. Hotdogs, wieners, and or frankfurters, don't relish (pun intended) similar attention unless it's a Fourth of July hotdog eating contest on Coney Island in New York. Although franks may not be the go to comfort food when dining out, approximately 20 billion hotdogs are consumed in the United States every year, with nearly have that total eaten away from home and at ballparks around the country.
The greater Charleston area is home to several eateries that cater to hotdogs. Suprisingly four of them are located east of the Cooper. As part of our 'Doin' the Charles-Ten' series Charleston.com is delighted to recommend the following locations that focus solely on franks or serve up one hellacious hotdog!
Formerly owned and operated by Jack Hurley 'Jack's Cosmic Dogs' has been an award winning Mount Pleasant icon since 2000. Although it changed hands last year, the menu and the decor remain intact, with Cosmic serving up 'out of this world' hotdogs alongside hand cut french fries. You can get your Cosmic dog that begins with an all beef Boars Head frank any way you want it, with the build your own beginning at $4.95.
Without question the two most preferred dogs are their Classic Cosmic and the Blue Galactic, with the former topped with Jack's original blue cheese coleslaw and famous Jack's Cosmic Mustard, and the latter including their home-made chili. Enjoy one of the best hotdogs in Charleston with your favorite self-serve Coke product, or go old school and grab a bottle of Cheerwine, Stewart's Cream Soda, or Grape and or Orange Nehi soda. Dogs and beer go together, and Cosmic serve up a local brew from Palmetto, and a killer draft root beer from Abita which makes for an amazing ice cream float.
Little ones love hotdogs. Jack's offers an impressive and affordable Cosmic Meal for $6.95 including dog, fries, soft serve ice cream and fountain drink. Kids of all ages enjoy the vintage toy store and arcade decor, with boomers equally enjoying oldies music. Jack's Cosmic Dogs is so heralded renowned chef Anton Brown has visited as well as Bill Clinton, with Charleston native Darius Rucker a regular. Set your spaceship down at 2805 U.S. 17 Mount Pleasant (near Hwy 41). A second James Island location expected to open in July. Lift off at http://www.jackscosmicdogs.com/
Just up the way from Jack's you'll come across 'Not Just Franks Cafe'. Attached outside Sweetgrass Ace Hardware at 3008 N. Hwy 17 the eatery presents more like a common area with picnic tables and a deck, where customers have been enjoying hotdogs and other handheld delights 'al fresco' (open air) for nearly a decade.
When patrons aren't enjoying breakfast croissants and burritos in the early hours, they flock to 'Not' for Boars Head dogs, sausages and brats. However, this hotdog stand is more akin to a diner serving up cheesesteaks, Reubens, patty melts, veggie wraps, and their signature Grilled Pimento Cheese. Almost the entire menu is under $10. Experience everyday hearty comfort food at http://notjustfrankscafe.com/
Venture closer to the Ravenel Bridge and you'll discover two eateries (one a stand) within a stones throw of each other on Coleman Blvd, both with stellar reputations of serving up awesome hotdogs.
Much like 'Not', Johnny's Hot Dogs (technically 883 Ben Sawyer) began as a hotdog stand outside Royall Ace Hardware morphing into a eatery serving up handheld delights for mid morning, lunch, and early dinner (Mon-Fri 8-5pm). Johnny's is known for early breakfast sandwiches alongside their Boar's Head all beef hotdogs and brats served plain or with chili. Want a quick bite under $3 (under $10 w/combo) than visit Johnny's at https://www.facebook.com/johnnyshotdogs/
Just across the way is the home of Skoogie's, home of Charleston's original Chicago style hotdog. While they recently switched from the authentic Vienna beef hotdog popular in the mid-west, Skoogie's still uses a plump premium all beef dog placed inside a steamed poppy seed bun. If you get your dog 'all the way' like the proud folks in the Windy City do, it comes with everything except the kitchen sink. We're talking mustard, relish, onions, pickles, sport peppers, kraut, cheese, tomatos, and a touch of celery salt. Come hungry!
Of course you can get your Skoogie dog naked or with the kitchen sink aka with added homemade chili and coleslaw. But like the rest they serve up more than just their signature hotdogs. Skoogie's is also a traditional Chicago deli, offering up Polish dogs, an Italian Au Jus, corned beef, pastrami, and roast beef, as well as awesome tuna and egg salad sandwiches. Have little ones in tow, Skoogie's has a kids menu under $5 with fries or chips and drink. Hot-diggity dog! It's 'love at first bite' at Skoogie's. Find them at 840 Coleman Blvd and on Instagram.
Making your way over the Cooper River into downtown Charleston there are three locations you might want to put on your hotdog radar. Bumpas (an Irish gastropub), The Palace Hotel, and Craves Hotdogs & BBQ are miles apart downtown, but serve up killer hotdogs that will have customers returning on a regular basis.
If you wake up in the morning and know beyond a shadow of a doubt a gi-normous hotdog is on your lunch todo list than I would skip breakfast, save your appetite, and find your way in to Bumpas at 5 Cumberland Street. Tell your server to wheel out a Pop's Foot Long (yes this extra plump Nathan's dog is all of 12 inches). File this frank under 'big ass dog' where only the adventurous try to attempt to eat with two hands, especially when topped with home-made chili and slaw on an Omirosa Roll (the only hoagie man enough to hold the dog). Even this hotdog veteran did an unheard thing, using a knife and fork.
If you prefer to hold on to your dog while downing it, try Wag the Dog, aka 100% all wagyu beef (you'll taste the difference) hot dog served on a toasted pretzel bun with a smattering of creole mustard. For a buck extra you can get the Wag drenched in beer cheese. Abso-freakin-lutely amazing! If you're 21 and older you can 'down the dogs' with a signature Irish cocktail, Guiness, Scottish Red Ale (Cooper River Brewing) or a Holy City Brewing Pilsner. Just one of over a dozen rotating brews on tap. Unique and memorable. Bump it up a notch at https://bumpas-chs.com/
Just north of midtown, more precisely at 525 Meeting Street is the new home of The Palace Hotel, and as one online reviewer already noted, it is neither a palace or a hotel. However it is one hellacious place to enjoy a half dozen plump and juicy all beef signature hotdogs served on oversized soft and fresh slightly seared buns. The former decades home to the Thunder Guards Motorcycle Club, The Palace Hotel is somewhat bohemian, a salute to yesteryear, sort of south beach Florida meets Miami Vice. The transformation is mind-boggling.
Open 4pm til 2am with Sunday brunch The Palace Hotel serves up a variety handheld delights, specialty salads, and sides, but their main menu revolves around the dogs, with two garnering all-star attraction. The Get Low Country is a pleasant twist on the traditional chili dog served with a slather of pimento cheese and worchestershire sauce (provides kick) before being topped with potato sticks for an added crunch. The dog is wonderfully messy and much like the low country, it's unique.
Need a bit of zest on your dog than the El Jefe (Spanish for boss) comes teeming with a wild & wacky blend of Mexican street corn, queso, parmesan, and cilantro under torilla chips. Both dogs go nice with Battered Onion Rings or Crispy Fries, and will fill you up. Enjoy with a signature cocktail or a decent selection of craft beers. When mother nature permits, enjoy your dog on the colorful patio facing Meeting. Step back in time and experience the un-conventional at https://www.facebook.com/PalaceHotelCHS/
On the other side of town, located at 99 Westedge St Suite 1100, directly across from Joe Riley Park (home of the Riverdogs) Crave Hotdogs & Barbecue is a grand slam food & drink slash entertainment venue. Not only do they offer up awesome signature hotdogs and brats, but they serve mouth watering smoked brisket and pulled pork. Those two menu items alone are a solid stand up double, but to bring in on home Crave carry 16 self serve brews (card activated) on tap, featuring your standard favorites alongside local and regional craft beers.
You can build your own hotdog with any of their 15 toppings or order a Chicago Dog complete with diced onion & tomato, sporty peppers, relish, with a slather of yellow mustard. The Loaded Baked Potato Dog comes teeming with tater tots, blanketed under bacon bits, cheddar cheese and sour cream. Sounds 'spud-alicious'. A single will satisfy the average hunger however, if you bring in a ravenous appetite to Crave than the double down (two dogs) are just the ticket. Just $10.95. Nice!
Kids of all ages especially the really picky ones might prefer the Cheesy Mac Dog. You guessed it, it's covered in mac n' cheese. The Memphis Dog drenched in pulled pork, coleslaw & BBQ sauce combines two kid favorite comfort foods. International palates might opt for the Classic Bratwurst served traditionally with sauerkraut and spicy mustard. Crave the Crave at https://iwantcrave.com/locations/south-carolina/
Open now for three years, Coney Island Hot Wieners at 4258 Spruill Ave, North Charleston (near Park Circle) have been attracting patrons who want to satisfy their yearning for hotdogs and affordability. Let's get down to the basics. CIHW is an awesome place to enjoy everyday staples in an unpretentious setting.
The Regular Coney Special aka 3 regular Coney's (chili & cheese) and a fountain drink will set you back $9.99. Tasty dogs and an appetizing price. The kids meal complete with hotdog, chips, and a drink is just $3.99. You can’t go wrong, what kid under 10 doesn’t love a hotdog for lunch or dinner. Maybe your buddy wants a frankfurter, but you're thinking more America's preferred everyday comfort food. You need not worry, CIHW crafts one of the best smashburgers in all of Charleston.
Want to go old school, order up a root beer float with your triple hotdog experience. It will take you back to a more innocent time, much like shagging on the pier. Have a sweet tooth, than perhaps a cool slice of key lime pie might satisfy your craving, or maybe a fresh cookie or ice cream. CIHW is teeming with sweet treats from yesteryear. Nothing fancy at Coney Island Hot Wieners except good everyday comfort food. Hey, they even have an adjacent friendly neighborhood tavern. Frankly awesome at https://www.parkcircleconeyisland.com/
If you happen to be up in Moncks Corner and have a hankering for a hotdog than I recommend 'That's My Dawg'. The owners Graylnn and Katlyn (husband & wife) didn't want to spell it dog, because they wanted customers to know they are more than just hotdogs, with a menu that encompasses four hand-patted burgers, a Philly cheesesteak, picnic sides, salads, egg rolls, boneless & traditional wings, and specials including spaghetti night.
The classic Bright Leaf plump red hot dogs (beef & pork) from Carolina Packers are the foundation for five of their signature Dawgs. Carnivores might opt for a double dose of meat with the $5 Bacon Dawg wrapped in bacon before being smothered in home made chili and queso (white cheese). Tasty with just the right amount of snap.
Maybe take a bite out of the Big Dawg complete with a slather of your three favorite condiments as well as chili, slaw, onions, and pickles. Easily fills and average appetite. But for just $4, go ahead and get two. Your tastebuds and your tummy will thank you. Find That's My Dawg at 104 Bilo Dr # A1, Moncks Corner (intersection of Hwy 52 & Old 52) and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thatsmydawgmc/
Looking for a place that serves everything under the sun on a hotdog than I suggest you make your way to Puma's Italian Ice and Hotdog Shack positioned in the heart of downtown Summerville at 115 East Richardson Avenue. If you can imagine or dream your all beef Nathan's hotdog sitting under a variety of your favorites foods and toppings than Puma's is the place to down a dog or two. They offer up five dozen and counting signature dogs that pay tribute to NY, Chicago, the outback, patriotism, Flowertown, and the zany!
The Mic Dundee dog is topped with chili, kraut, banana peppers, & onions. Missed breakfast, Puma's signature Rise ‘n’ Shine dog under scrambled egg & cheese will fill the void. Diehard Star Wars fans might relish the Chewbacca drenched in chili, slaw, blue cheese & Baby Ray’s (cayenne pepper & garlic sauce). Cool & zesty! Maybe a fictional Italian TV mobster might arouse your taste buds. If so, than order up the Tony Soprano w/ ricotta, marinara, mozzarella, pepperoni & parmesan cheese. Give respect! On the other side of the coin, the Bless Your Heart with pimento cheese and crackers will satisfy a genteel customer.
The Elvis comes complete with bananas and peanut butter, or kids of all ages might opt for the PB&J with your choice of strawberry or grape jelly. Prefer you peanut butter with jalapeno, honey & reaper dust than order the Sweet n' Spicy. Little ones may lean towards the Fluff ‘n’ Butta (fluff & crumbled Oreos), the Smitty Smore (chocolate syrup & crushed graham crackers) or the Funky Monkey (bananas & chocolate syrup).
True blue Americans could go with the 2nd Amendment complete with chili, pickles, scallions, ranch & Texas Pete. Maybe support first responders with the three alarm Fireman Dog (chili, cheese, onions, jalapenos, spicy mustard, & Puma’s Hot Sauce & Reaper Flakes. Caliente! Of course Puma's celebrate the home team with The Green Wave proudly under kraut, pickles, scallions, relish, banana peppers & ranch. Honestly their are too many way out there dogs to mention. But with names like The Kraunchy, Traffic Jam, and Zach's Gone Wild you get the hotdog gist! Discover all the crazy at https://pumasice.com/
Sure you can find hotdogs at a variety of eateries in greater Charleston, but the few profiled above will tantalize your taste buds. If you're east of the Cooper, downtown, in the north area or Summerville, you might want to consider the 10 mentioned.
As a 'Doin' the Charles-Ten' extra, if you're craving an all beef hotdog with character and the New Dog Hotdog Cart is anywhere in your vicinity, than I suggest you find your way over to them. Their Carolina is a straight up chili dog (homemade) with slaw and onions, with their signature New Dog perhaps my favorite under a medley of cheese, bacon, jalapenos, crushed chips & special sauce (it's a trade secret). Both just $6. Add chips and a drink for a cool $10. They even cater. For more frank talk visit https://www.eatnewdog.com/