Article reprinted with permission from South Charlotte Weekly. First appeared June 14, 2002
Lisa and Peter Fleck, owners of Buzzy & Bear's Grill, enjoy a flame-broiled slaw dog on their "signature" griddle-toasted roll. SCW photos by Sean Busher.

Finding your favorite hot dog

Tasting expedition covers specialty eateries,
plus the golf course turn at Myers Park Country Club

By Heidi Edidin

Hot-diggity-dog…it’s that time of the year. School’s out and the summer season is spread before us like a large beach blanket across the sand. Time to kick off those shoes, wiggle your toes, run barefoot through the sprinkler and enjoy the official food of summer – the hot dog.

To that end, I have spent the past several weeks taste-tasting hot dogs. It has been an informal tasting expedition and I have by no means tried every dawg in Charlotte, but I’ve eaten my share I can assure you.

As it turns out, July has actually been deemed National Hot Dog Month and for those of you looking for a reason to celebrate, National Hot Dog Day is scheduled for July 24. So, take this as some advance guidance on just where to find the best hot dogs in the Queen City and get ready to eat your share.

Before I begin, a couple of tasting notes:
I grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., but my Dad was from Chicago and my Mom from Boston. In our house hot dogs were served with mustard and relish. Ketchup was reserved for hamburgers, fries and occasionally used as a spread for leftover meatloaf sandwiches, but never, ever, did we eat ketchup on hot dogs. These days I still look for mustard, relish and occasionally sauerkraut on a good dog, and that is what I went in search of here.

During my hot dog eating adventure, my 6-year-old niece, Mariah Edidin, joined me for a week – to visit me (and my cat, Scruffy) from her home in Seattle for her annual trip to “Camp Heidi.” I took her with me to sample hot dogs in several locales and learned a lot about what children look for in a great hot dog.

First, and foremost – there is to be none of the “all the way” stuff that the grownups like to order. Mariah’s actual comment was, “ No way I’m eating that!” when she saw the dog I ordered topped with chili, slaw, mustard, relish and onions. No, Mariah, like most kids her age, likes her dogs unadorned and unadulterated. She ordered hers plain. If there were to be any condiments, it was ketchup and mustard only, please. In addition, kids also seem to prefer their hot dogs boiled or steamed rather than grilled and prefer them to be served on soft steamed buns. None of that hard crusty skin and stuff for them, although, to be frank (pardon the pun), the “hard crusty skin” and the snap of a bite it renders are my favorite part of eating a hot dog.

I started my pursuit for the best dog in Charlotte at a cute little hot dog stand I saw at Metrolina Flea Market. Buzzy & Bear’s Grill offers flame-broiled dogs and brats with a half dozen or so variations on the theme. I was pleased to think I had hit gold from the start. Grilled to perfection, these dogs are served on toasted buns with your choice of condiments, including homemade chili, fresh-made slaw, white wine kraut, mustard, onions, relish and yes, even ketchup. You can taste B&B’s hot dogs, German Brats, Sweet Italian Sausages, polish Kielbasa and their delicious home-smoked pork barbecue at Metrolina the first weekend of every month, in addition to catching them for lunch at 101 South Tryon St., across from the First Citizens Building, from around 11 a.m. or so until about 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Next Mariah and I had a dog or two at one of my favorite neighborhood spots...

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