The Roast Grill
7 S. West St.
Sometimes, choices are overrated. You know the phrase—keep it simple, stupid.
So when a restaurant has a grocery store’s worth of condiments on its tables, it doesn’t give me much confidence in the food.
I mean, if someone spends a lifetime perfecting the basic culinary delight of a hotdog, then they know exactly how the customer is meant to enjoy it, right?
Why question it?
I guess that’s why I like this world famous hole-in-the-wall in downtown Raleigh.
Decisive. Confident. Perfect.
NO cheese. NO mayo. NO kraut. NO relish. NO fries. NO chips. NO coffee. NO hot tea. NO iced tea. NO sweet tea. NO credit cards.
And absolutely NO KETCHUP!
No joke, that’s how the Roast Grill markets itself on its website.
How’s that for customer service?
Screw all that “have it your way” stuff. If you don’t like it, go to Burger King.
But judging by the line to get into the place at 2pm on a Thursday, it’s obvious plenty of folks like it just fine.
Since 1940, the Charles family has been grilling and serving up hotdogs. The vintage sign hanging above the joint says it all. “HOT WEINERS.”
Apparently folks had much shorter legs in 1940 as well.
About ten little bar stools with six inches of legroom and two two-top tables crammed against the wall are the only places to sit in this 6-foot-wide lunch room.
I’ve been more comfortable in the middle seat of an American Airlines 757.
But unlike a 5 hour transcontinental flight of torture, nobody minds the tight space for the few minutes they spend chowing down on hotdogs at Roast Grill.
The service is friendlier too.
Mr. Charles (the original owners’ son) and his grill man, George, offer plenty of Southern hospitality.
They just want to keep their little enterprise simple and efficient.
How do you want your hotdogs cooked? You can choose burnt, medium, or light.
Toppings? They got chili, slaw, onions, or mustard.
Yup, that’s it.
To drink, you can have a Miller Lite. Or, if you’re on the clock (like I am), an old-fashioned glass bottle of Coke.
Cash only. Sales tax already included.
At the risk of getting too complicated, I decided to try three different combinations: burnt with chili, burnt with slaw, and burnt with chili and slaw.
I wanted to sample all the Roast Grill options.
Their chili is Mr. Charles parents’ 70-year-old recipe. Tangy and zesty, it is excellent. The burnt skin of my hotdog added that flavorful char to each bite.
The slaw dog on the other hand left something to be desired. The coleslaw just didn’t have alot of flavor. No sweetness. No tanginess. No creaminess.
Just cabbagey crunch. Probably would’ve been better with some mustard.
But, the slaw and chili together? Now you’re talkin!
The savory chili goes well with the cool crunchiness of the slaw. Burnt hotdog, chili, and cabbagey crunch in every bite. That’s Roast Grill perfection there!
It was so good, I ordered a fourth one done exactly the same way.
In fact, I left the Roast Grill wondering why they bother giving customers any options at all.
Clearly, my combination of chili and slaw is the apex of Roast Grill hotdog perfection.
And as a compulsive perfectionist, my mantra is, “don’t mess with perfection.”
Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.