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.

Bill's Hotdogs on Urbanspoon

I am the founding blogger of Eat It, North Carolina. I started Eat It, North Carolina because I am always looking for awesome, local restaurants in different places around North Carolina but have never been able to find one place on the Internet that lists them. I'm a recent graduate from East Carolina University & currently live in Greensboro. I like all types of food but am a sucker for Chinese and greasy spoons.
Charlie Brinson
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16 Responses to REVIEW: Bill’s Hot Dogs – Washington, NC

  1. Doug Grimes says:

    I love Bill’s Hot Dogs. The “concept” of Bill’s is so simple and has zero complexity other than deciding what to put on wiener and even those choices are limited. I too have had the sinking spell you described but only after I ate 5, all the way, of course. Sometimes we buy extra, bring them home, freeze them, then pop em in the microwave whenever we want one of a few.

    • Charlie Brinson says:

      I am surprised that they freeze so well. Might have to give that a try next time. Hope I don’t get that sinking feeling next time. It could have just been one of those days…

  2. Joey Grissom says:

    Charlie, you didn’t really say whether you “liked” them or not…just that you felt bad after eating them. Otherwise, you gave a pretty good review.
    Personally, I believe Bill’s hotdogs taste great even if you can’t “stomach” them and are one of my favorite foods in the world…yes the world.
    I have been eating them all my life and never felt bad after 3 or 4 or 5! Now I have needed a nap afterwards but it’s all good in my opinion! :o)

    • Charlie Brinson says:

      Joey – You are absolutely right. I didn’t really but whether I like them or not. I am pretty sure that I like them because I ate three but I wouldn’t put them on my list of the top 10 dogs in North Carolina. I am going to give them another try the next time I head down there…

  3. Autry Chandler Jr. says:

    i grew up there and boy do i miss them. wish they shipped

  4. Randy Warren says:

    ? The possiblie recicpi for Bill’s Hot Dog Chili’s sauce,, did you kinda figure this out, or what ? Thanks !!

    • Charlie Brinson says:

      I found it on a Chowhound thread as I was researching the white pepper chili after eating at Bill’s…not 100% sure because I’ve never made it but let us know how it tastes! I’ve heard there is a similar dog in Greenville at a place called Warren’s Hot Dogs although I haven’t been yet.

      • Jay Lamm says:

        The recipe you have posted is not the recipe for Bill’s Hot Dog Chili. I have the original recipe given to me by a family member of the owners.

        If anyone wants to purchase the chili…I sell it in 3 and 5 pound containers. The cost does not include shipping.

        Jay Lamm
        jaylamm@pschwax.com

  5. [...] credits: One, Two, Three, Four, Five  Posted by Jami at 9:39 am  Tagged with: bill's hot dogs, little [...]

  6. cherylann says:

    if you’re ever in the piedmont, near hillsborough, try the village diner. best day is sunday….get the buffet. homemade chicken and dumplings, bbq chicken, fried chicken, chopped bbq, salisbury steak and lots of veggies. good southern cooking.

    • Jay Lamm says:

      HOt dogs seem to have regional popularity. Been to Village Diner. They may sell a lot, but they must do that based on their legacy, because they aren’t very good.

  7. Rob Shelton says:

    I lived in Chocowinity for almost 3yrs. (it’s a suburb of Washington) I love Bills. This review is dead on! These hot dogs are spicy and pretty stout! The staff is rude and impatient because most everyone who comes in knows what they want.
    One thing you left off the review. No ketchup! They don’t have it and you better not ask for it!!! Once you have been there a few times it will be n experience you will come to love.

    • Charlie Brinson says:

      Rob,

      You’re right…I don’t usually put ketchup on my dogs anyway so I must have left that part out. Hope all is well!

      Best,
      Charlie

  8. Robert Dickinson says:

    I was born and raised in Washington and still return to visit family frequently. A visit to the Bill’s on Gladden is always a must on Saturday. The hotdogs have changed since the original meat packing plant the made them burnt down, but I still love them. The Bill’s at the Mall is just not the same. The recipe you printed is way off base. It is mostly bacon grease, onion, texas pete, pepper and lots of corn starch. It has to start in a iron skillet and simmer for hours in a crock pot. A few folks around town have the recipe as do I. If you had it most likely you would not eat it anymore. I always love to be in line behind somebody asking for ketchup. It makes me laugh.

    Robert

    • bobby boyd says:

      hey Robert, I m a bath boy that moved away to the coast and I love bills dogs. I cant seam to get the right amount of bacon grease right for the recipe.any help sure would be helpful.thank you.

  9. Adam Lopez says:

    I see this review is from 2011. Go to Warren’s Hot Dogs if you want some good food that won’t crush your stomach. The staff are very pleasant as opposed to “abrasive,” “impatient,” and “rude.” Unless that’s what you like, then continue with Bill’s. Warren’s also can fix a pizza with hot dogs and hot chili on it. Our hot dogs are better than Bill’s, our subs are better than Subway, our pizza is better than any major chain, and our apple turnovers are better than your mom’s AND your grandma’s. It’s not bragging if it’s true.

    The fact of the matter is, Bill’s wishes it was Warren’s.

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