In a world where the customer is king, where the answer to most consumer requests is a resounding “Yes,” Raleigh’s hole-in-the-wall hot dog spot, the Roast Grill, prides itself on “No.”
No ketchup. No cheese. No mayo, no relish, no pickles. No chips and no french fries. Do not ask for sauerkraut. Please don’t mention sweet tea. There isn’t a menu, so don’t bother asking. Can you pay with anything but cash? The answer is no.
You won’t mind. The folks lined up from the sidewalk to the screen door on Saturdays to eat Roast Grill’s legendary “grill-blackened, southern style” hot dogs sure don’t. They take these dogs how they come, and they’re glad they did. Charred to the point of burnt, piled with chili, sprinkled with onions or slaw, and squirted, if you insist, with plain yellow mustard, Roast Grill dogs haven’t changed since 1940.
Two dogs and a Coke in a bottle will set you back $6, and if you’re nice, Hot Dog George (that’s George Poniros, who runs the place) will hand you a free Tootsie Roll on your way out the door. If that doesn’t quite do it, order the baklava. Yes, the baklava. Some argue that Roast Grill’s special version of the flaky Middle Eastern pastry is the real reason to head to 7 S. West Street. The “Hot Weiners” sign above the door says you’ve found what you’re looking for.