How far would you drive for a hot dog? For me and my friend George Gillespie, put us down for an 80-mile round-trip jaunt from above Covington clear across to Lewisburg, WV and back. We went exclusively for a couple of Jim’s Drive In hot dogs, perhaps the best dogs on the planet. And I should know. I grew up on them.
I don’t know exactly, but Jim’s Drive In probably dates back to the late 40’s. It was well-established in Lewisburg when I moved there in 1955. When I got my driver’s license a few years later, I spent many an evening in the parking lot of the iconic gathering place, meeting friends and hoping to find girls. For a quarter, you could get a hot dog all the way and a small Coke. They were good back then and they taste exactly the same today.
Jim’s doesn’t use fancy, all-beef hot dogs like Nathan’s or Hebrew Nationals. They are plain dogs, probably Jesse Jones and they are boiled, not grilled. It’s the rest of the fixings that makes these hot dogs extra special.
First, they grill their buns and they have buttery smooth and delicious Cole slaw. They pile it high, so the buns almost disintegrate while you’re eating them. They also use red onions and their chili is world class. When I make chili at home, Jim’s Drive In chili is my gold standard.
If you find yourself anywhere near Lewisburg, pull off I-64 and go west on 60, just west of town. A middle-aged lady will likely take your order and bring your dogs on a tray, the same ones they have used for over 50 years. If you want a good side, order some onion rings and if you’re especially hungry, try one of their hand-made vanilla shakes. The best combination on their hot dogs is chili, mustard, onions and slaw. Man, they are good.
Below is the original recipe Jim’s has been using for all these years. This makes a lot of chili, by the way.
10 lbs. 90/10 ground round
1 quart dehydrated onions
3 large commercial size cans tomato juice
1 cup chili powder.