REVIEW: Bill’s Hot Dogs – Washington, NC
If you ask anyone from Washington, NC what the best hot dog in North Carolina is, there is a 99% chance that they will tell you that it is Bill’s Hot Dog down by the waterfront. If they tell you about another hot dog, they might be lying about being from Little Washington (a nickname that many people have given the town). I went to college less than an hour away there in Greenville. I drove down to Washington occasionally when I was in school but I never went to Bill’s back then even with as many people from there who told me about their hometown favorite.
Bill’s Hot Dogs is located on Gladden Street in downtown Washington near the historic waterfront. When you walk through the front door, you enter in a small room that has a brief standing area right before the counter. Their specialty is hot dogs and they only like to serve them one way. The staff at Bill’s Hot Dogs isn’t the most welcoming bunch and tend to be a little bit abrasive especially if you don’t know what you want. You tend to find this at restaurants that have gained statewide notoriety. Bill’s Hot Dogs are cheap eating, too, as each hot dog is only $0.98.
A lot of people enjoy cruising on their boats to the waterfront on a nice day, tying their boat off on the community dock and then heading up to Bill’s to grab a couple of hot dogs with friends. If you don’t have a boat, you can still grab a parking spot down near the waterfront and walk up. My dad and I were on the way through eastern North Carolina and decided to take a detour through Washington to give Bill’s Hot Dogs a try. It was a pretty windy & chilly day but we still decided to sit out a bench on the waterfront and eat our hot dogs. It was very relaxing sitting out by the water.
The hot dogs at Bill’s are the nuclear red dog that is fried in a vat of grease and then dropped in a steamed bun. Their “all-the-way” dog is served with chopped raw onions, mustard and their signature chili which is a meatless, white pepper chili. The toppings are placed on the bun before the wiener is added so you can’t really see them in the picture (above).The mustard is the everyday yellow stuff and the onions are pretty pungent which is what I like. The thing that sets Bill’s hot dogs apart from the rest is the signature chili. They call it a chili but is actually more of a gravy. It is laced with pepper and has a pretty strong kick to it. It is definitely different than any hot dog that I have ever tried.
I am not sure if it was a bad day at Bill’s or not but my dad & I didn’t enjoy our hot dogs. I usually have a stomach of steel and can eat pretty much anything but these Bill’s Hot Dogs crushed me. I took me about three or four hours until I started feeling somewhat decent. It was brutal and has me not wanting to go back to Bill’s anytime soon. My dad said he felt as awful as I did, too. Here is a supposed recipe for Bill’s signature chili which has been a secret for many years although there have been some replicas produced like at Warren’s Hot Dogs in Greenville.
POSSIBLE RECIPE FOR BILL’S HOT DOGS SIGNATURE CHILI
- 2 cups of water
- 1 onion
- 4 tablespoons of flour
- 1/2 tsp of texas pete
- 1/2 tsp of tabasco sauce
- dash of red pepper
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 3/4 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Cut up onion,add water,bring to a boil and add all ingredients,except flour. Cook 5 mins and add flour
— via user, cmidgettec, on RoadFood.com
Even though I had a bad experience at Bill’s Hot dogs, I still suggest that you stop by and try it out for yourself. I may stop by there again when I am in the area and give it another try just because of the large amount of good friends that have told me how much they enjoy those dogs. I don’t want to write it off yet.