Thursday, July 3, 2008

Skeeter's in Wytheville, VA

It’s only been two weeks that we’ve been in Wytheville, but we keep finding reasons to re-visit this town. The downtown is very busy and no boarded up buildings were present. Something else that was not present was a parking meter.
Today we visited the Wytheville Heritage Center. This is the starting place for the tours of the museums of the town’s history and the historic buildings and homes in the town. We purchased a copy of Southwest Virginia Crossroads by Joe Tennis, whom we met during that interesting encounter in Rural Retreat three days ago.

Glancing at Tennis' section on Wytheville, he described Main Street (pictured here) as “a good place for a stroll.” He credited Thomas Jefferson Boyd (1804-1893), a surveyor and “Father of Wytheville,” with designing Main Street as wide and roomy.

Another welcome quality of this town is shown here in Skeeter's menu's prices.
If I had been able to enlarge it more, you would have seen that the regular hot dog costs $1.49, the slaw dog $1.59, the cheese dog $1.59, the works (chili, slaw, and cheese) $1.65, and a barbecue $2.89 (no charge for the slaw). The regular hot dog includes onion, mustard, and chili and the next two add one thing to this base. The works has chili, slaw, and cheese. (The barbecue is a separate sandwich, not something added to a hot dog.)

When the owner came to take our order, I said, "We would like one of each of the first five items on the menu."

He wasn't writing anything down. He wasn't smiling. "OK, now what would you like."

I said that I was serious and wanted one of each of the first five items on the menu.

"Really?" He shook his head and said, "You don't know how many people have said that and then ordered something else. You're the first person who actually wants all five." He laughed, so I guess he felt I wasn't some smart ass.

In conversations with the people behind the counter, we learned that they routinely sell between 32 and 38 dozen hot dogs a day.

When our order arrived, I couldn't wait and took a bite out of the regular dog (remember, that had onion, mustard, and chili on it). In
the photograph, you can see the barbecue with slaw (upper left) and from left to right: the works, the cheese dog, the slaw dog, and the regular dog (well, most of it at least).

Kate noticed a redder color to the dogs and asked if these were called "red hots."

"Yes, they are. It's just red coloring" was the answer she received.

The redder coloring and the skinnier nature of these dogs were distinguishing features compared to my vision of the ideal hot dog. That notwithstanding, the dogs tasted very good. There was not a lot of seasoning (used to cover up a less tasty product). The slaw was very mild (light on the vinegar), and the chili was also on the mild side. The barbecue was the mustard-based variety. So everything went well together (except I still wonder about that red food coloring).

Before leaving this quirky neighborhood joint and its attic-like collection of old
LPs, coke bottles, photographs signed by local celebrities, and a variety of signs, Kate asked, "If I wanted a break from hot dogs, where would I go for a good pizza?"

Well, this prompted comments from two people behind the counter, a customer on a counter stool next to me, and another customer three tables away. Eliminating comments of various chains, they concluded that CJ's, just outside town; Toby's, next door; and the pizza from the restaurant Tuscany in (where else?) Rural Retreat were the best choices, although there was no consensus.

We'll see.

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