When I think of Wilmington, I think of the beautiful beaches along the coast, the historic downtown with it’s nostalgic architecture and Spanish moss, the riverfront, and hotdogs.
Why? Because they are the food item you would least suspect to find an abundance of in Wilmington, and yet, there is seemingly a hot dog joint behind every nook and cranny in the Wilmington area. I’m not sure what Wilmington’s love affair with hot dogs is, but I can attest that the hotdogs here go beyond what you’ll find at your neighbor’s backyard barbecue. Crisp, tender, juicy, loaded with nearly-gourmet toppings and pillowed between a soft bun, the hotdogs in our area -beef and veggie alike- are not messing around with the American classic.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Wilmington’s fascination with hot dogs shops is that they aren’t always in plain sight. Many are tucked away on side streets or around the corner from a busy road. They’re all worth visiting, so we’re sharing our insider map of hot dog spots and our favorite dogs of all time.
Quality dogs and super fresh ingredients keep us coming back to Charlie Graingers. Their menu goes far beyond the ketchup and mustard classic style with 15 original hotdog style options. There are sandwiches for anyone who isn’t into dogs and don’t miss the housemade pink lemonade to wash it all down.
Trolley Stop serves up the perfect classic hotdog, but they also offer several different hotdog styles and different dogs, including turkey and vegetarian.
Frontier is easy to miss, subtly tucked away on Carolina Beach Road next to a laundromat. There is just a small wooden seating area out front but don’t let it’s no frills style fool you: many locals argue that Frontier serves up the best hotdogs and hamburgers in town.
Sam’s offers different style dogs and your classic toppings. With two locations on either side of town, a good hot dog is always within reach.
Louie’s Hot Dogs is quite literally, a whole in the wall. While there’s not a lot of room to stretch out in their shop, their small space serves up dogs with some serious flavor. Their toppings are fairly classic, but they offer different dog options including sausage and veggie dogs.
While Paul’s is located in Rocky Point, it is just a short drive from Wilmington and well worth it. They offer the usual hot dog toppings but don’t shrug off the relish- it’s housemade and downright amazing.
(Update 3/24/16- Paul’s Place was recently featured in StarNews for their live music on Sundays, which some locals refer to as a “hotdog hoedown”. Read the feature here.)