Chili, mustard, onions and a slick of hot sauce—for lots of South Carolinians, these are the musts of a proper hot dog. Slaw, kraut and pickle relish aficionados are also well-represented. And there’s nothing wrong with just a stripe of ketchup, though this is largely the preference of the kiddie crowd.
Of course, a flavorful wiener and fresh, warm bun are givens. While places above the Mason-Dixon Line are well known for their interpretations, there’s no shortage of hot dog love among Southerners. From back road gas stations to dedicated hot dog joints, the Palmetto State is a hotbed of hot-doggery. Here are 20 suggestions—some off the beaten path—where you can experience a little hot dog heaven.
Baker’s Dogs — Seneca
Go classic at this family-run operation or choose from the 26 topping options to create a hot dog adventure.
Heidi’s Hot Dogs — Pickens
Get a classic slaw dog or try a Southern mash-up like the Bird Dog — a hot dog topped with a fried chicken strip.
Holmes Hot Dogs — Spartanburg
Enjoy hot dogs generously topped with thick chili at this little cafe with a vintage feel.
Taco Dog — Spartanburg
Southeast meets Southwest at this humming strip mall eatery. Yes, tacos and hot dogs coexist amiably here and get equal top-dog treatment. While it makes for a great mealtime compromise when eating out as a family, it’s also a sweet option for fans of both.
Hot Dog Cafe — Lyman
When you walk into this vintage cafe, the first thing you’ll notice is the line of folks sitting along the bar noshing on chili dogs. That’s the only sign you need. You know what to do.
Red Hill Hot Dogs — Lyman
For more than 30 years, Red Hill has supplied the hot dog-loving community of Lyman. Dogs are served fast, fresh and hot, ensuring this operation’s longevity.
O’Neal Hot Dog Shop — Greer
The humble shop is a mainstay of this rural Upstate crossroads, where some customers have been ordering up dogs with freshly made chili since they were toddlers.
Skin’s — Greenville, Anderson, Clemson, Seneca
Nationally recognized Skin’s has crafted a recipe for hot dog success using simple, but proven principles: tasty wieners, fresh ingredients and friendly service. It has worked beautifully for this Upstate institution since 1946. Check their website for locations across the Upstate.
City Billiards — Aiken
Get a bit of local culinary history with a dog topped with chili made from a 50-year-old recipe.
Ebenezer Grill — Rock Hill
All the way (mustard, ketchup, chili, homemade slaw and onions) is the preferred way to go at this Rock Hill institution featuring award-winning dogs.
Hot Dog Depot — Rock Hill
This dedicated hot dog joint offers a long list of options, including the Homewrecker, a 1-pound footlong served all the way and cut in half for sharing.
Hoof and Hound — Hartsville
Ultra-discerning hot dog fans can indulge their craving at this bustling pub serving Fripper's famous handcrafted, all-beef links. Get them Chicago style or go classic Southern with chili, mustard and onions. Goes great with a cold craft beer.
Ruth’s Drive-in — Hartsville
It seems as if Ruth’s has always been here, serving up satisfying chili dogs in its old-school, cozy cafe. Go ahead and drive through if you want, but dining inside with the locals will enhance your hot dog pleasure.
Tommy’s Self Service — Lydia
This back road gem definitely is a throwback to hot dog days of old. Hot dogs, ribs, deli salads, bottled sodas and homemade cakes are the only fuel you’ll find at this former gas station in the Pee Dee. And judging by the constant traffic of customers, it’s a formula that’s working just fine. Sit at the counter and enjoy nostalgic noshing as you chow down on hot dogs with house-made chili.
Fenway Grille — North Myrtle Beach
North meets South at this hopping hot dog shack, where you can experience authentic Fenway Park wieners.
Jack’s Cosmic Dogs — Mount Pleasant
This award-winning operation has garnered national attention for its dogs, considered by legions of fans to be out of this world. The Cosmic Dog, with blue cheese slaw and house-made sweet potato mustard, is particularly toothsome.
Johnny’s Hot Dogs — Mount Pleasant
Belly up to the window and order a Boars Head hot dog. Imaginative requests are encouraged here as evidenced by the massive variety of toppings: ranch dressing, steak sauce, chow chow and crumbled potato chips, among them.
Sam’s Corner — Myrtle Beach
The jukebox has been firing up at iconic Sam’s Corner since 1976. This beloved beach spot is home to Sam’s “World Famous Dogs." When all that sun and sand awakens your hunger, there’s nothing like a good ol' Sam’s footlong and a cold beverage to fuel the rest of your beach day. Look for other locations along the Grand Strand.