Bill's Hot Dog Stand in Washington, NC
When you think of historic landmarks, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I know....a hot dog stand, right? No? Not where you are? Well, in Washington it is!
A Little Bill's Hot Dog History
Bill's Hot Dog Stand in Washington, NC was opened in 1928. The original stand's present location is at 109 Gladden Street in Washington, NC. A second location has been opened in the past few years at the Washington Square Mall. A few "Bill's Connoisseurs" claim the original location's dogs to be better than the new stand (sort of a large bottle of Coke vs. small bottle of Coke thing).
I must say that I have had plenty from both locations and can't discern any difference. I had the pleasure of working for a short while with one of the founder's sons a few years ago, and enjoyed his "hot dog" stories from his youth. Does he still eat them? Absolutely, and quite a few at the time.
AHHH, The Ambiance!
When you enter either of the locations (but particularly the original), the first thing that catches you attention is the ambiance! The fact that this establishment was founded next to a feed/hardware store is inescapable. You can almost imagine people coming to town for supplies all those years ago and enjoying a few "dogs" on the return trip home (you can't eat just one / it's a law!).
The bottom line is that if you are looking for elegant seating (or seating of any kind for that matter), a diverse menu, or chit-chat, you might want to rethink a visit here. There will almost always be a line of people waiting and don't be surprised if the person in front of you says something like, "I'll have 20 all the way, 6 with extra chili, 12 with no onions and 1 with just mustard."
My question is, "Who orders a hot dog with just mustard at Bill's?" This person in front of me probably made the mistake of saying that they were going to Bill's for lunch, at work! While at work, any mention of going to Bill's for lunch brings numerous friends forth, all with orders in hand.
How To Order A Bill's Hot Dog
At Bill's, you get your choice of any combination of mustard, onions and chili......or double chili for the adventuresome! All of the above are applied with wooden paddles and the ladies who work here are "professionals." Do not attempt this at home! The very best can toss the onions and catch them with the buns, which are steamed, soft and just right. It is amazing just how fast the above-mentioned order of 39 dogs can be prepared (large orders can be called in/please do this if you are standing in front of me).
The mustard and onions are pretty self-explanatory, but, unquestionably, it is the cooking and the chili that magically makes it a Bill's Hot Dog. The dogs are cooked pretty thoroughly to a shriveled state (I'm not a cook and will refrain from offering too much detail) before they are "plated." In this case "plating" means slapped in a bun with the desired condiments.
The chili, which is likely quite different than what you are probably envisioning, is a SPICY, proprietary mix that so many people find almost addictive. My son-in-law, Justin, is addicted and lives about 200 miles away. Sometimes it takes quite a few during visits to get him fixed up again!
Introducing "Trip Dogs!"
Please take what I am about to say in a positive light. Bill's Hot Dog Stand in Washington, NC enjoys an almost cult following and it's not just from the locals. All these years of people moving into and out of Washington have created a need for shipping Bill's Hot Dogs to far away places by various methods (by friends and family/not Bill's staff). This happens so often that the ladies at Bill's suggested to me recently that they do not steam the buns for some of these "Trip Dogs."
Recently, my wife and I were having our car serviced at our dealership about an hour away and our salesman, Shawn, started looking around in our car. Acknowledging our puzzled expressions, he said, "I just figured there had to be some Bill's Hot Dogs in here somewhere!" This was obviously a little nudge that it's time to take him a dozen or so on our next visit.
Well, I've got to go now. After all of this, guess what I'm having for lunch?
Contact Info for Bill's Hot Dog Stand
Bill's Hot Dog Stand
109 Gladden Street
Washington, NC 27889
Bill's Hot Dog Stand #2
617 Washington Square Mall
Washington, NC 27889
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Come to see us at Bills Hot Dog Stand in Washington, NC!