Tony and I have been waiting patiently for a long time to get to eat at Roast Grill. Seeing it featured on one of my favorite food shows, “Man vs. Food,” made the wait even more excruciating. It’s been weeks, maybe even months. You’d think that we were on a waiting list for some fancy restaurant, not hot dogs. The problem was that the legendary Roast Grill (7 S West St., Raleigh, NC 27603-1849) has crazy hours and every time we went, it was closed. We showed up two Saturdays in a row and they were closed each time for a wedding. I love roasted hot dogs, it seems like you only get the boiled kind around here, so I wanted to cry out of disappointment. The thing we were most afraid of was after the wait, would these hot dogs be worth it?
Before I answer, let me first say, this ain’t a place to get it your way. Roast Grill is very up front with what they won’t provide; no fries, no ketchup, no relish, chips, no drinks other than soda in glass bottles and beer. You can only pay with cash, so leave your cards at home.
But what you do get, and the answer to my open question from before, is so worth the wait and lack of frills. This hot dog is the best you can get in Raleigh and maybe even the best in North Carolina. This is the kind of hot dog I could eat everyday; perfectly cooked on a special roaster, with just enough black char on the dog. The hot dog is dressed in mustard, fresh chopped onions, and hot chili. Ohhhh….the chili. Just thinking about it makes my mouth drool. It had the right amount of meatiness, heat, and savoriness. Just remember, it is messy and you will drip everywhere. Embrace the mess, because it is one of the best mouthfuls of food you may have.
The atmosphere is pretty homey, it seems family-run and there were obviously a lot of regulars there. The place itself is pretty small, so if you’re going with friends, be there when they open or be prepared to eat outside. The lady behind the counter was sweet and ready with another napkin when it looked like I was going to be wearing my chili home. Honestly though, I was so focused and enjoying my hot dogs, the place could have been burning down and I wouldn’t have noticed.
There have been many times where I have waited and anticipated a brand new dish and restaurant and have been crushingly disappointed. Roast Grill is a wonderful reminder that some things are so worth the wait, but I know that, even if I have to camp out, I won’t want to wait long.