Hot Dog of the Week: Nu-Way Weiners in Macon, Georgia
Nu_Way's original Macon location was our first stop on a long, long day of southern hot dog eating. But it was so good—definitely the best of the day—that we broke several rules of the Serious Eats Food Marathon Manifesto, eating all of our food and even ordering more. And this was with at least 6 or 7 other hot dog joints to hit over the next 10 hours.
The first good sign about this place was the awesome, gritty southern hot dog lunch counter ambience. Comfortable booths, short order cooks barking out orders, amazing old-school hot dog graphic design, and a no-nonsense waitress who simply replied "NO BREAKFISS" when we tried to order egg sandwich. There's a full menu here that goes way further than hot dogs, but breakfast ends ridiculously early, something like 9:30 a.m. (they open at 6 a.m.).
The weiners here are of the pork and beef bright neon red variety (supposedly "private-label") grilled to almost char-dog levels, dropped into a soft pillowy steamed white bun, creating that awesome textural contrast (that I love) that really sets them apart from other dogs in the south, along with their fantastic toppings chili and slaw, which are serious business down here. They'll make or break a hot dog joint.
Nu-Way's slaw is really bright with lots of green pepper and much less mayonnaisey than most of what we had in the region. It almost reminded me of Philadelphia pepper hash which is probably why I liked it so much. Their chili is fantastic, also incredibly different than anything I've had in the Virginias and Carolinas, with as much Greek spicing as something you would find in the northeast. Which makes sense since Nu-Way was founded by Greek-American James Mallis in 1916, the same year Nathan's opened in Coney Island.
After devouring the first few dogs we also tried a Cheese Dog. I like how they put the cheese under the dog so it melts into the bun, chili, and mustard. The bright red dogs aren't really any different from their pinkish-gray cousins. Rumor is at one point the red dye was for covering up old meat; I assume it was always more marketing gimmick than anything else, and it makes for a great presentation.
We also tried a cheeseburger ($2.14) "all the way" (chili, onions, mustard) which was a decent flat patty with a good char from the hard-working grill made delicious with that awesome greek chili.
Nu-Way has had a long standing rivalry with Varsity, the airport sized hot dog megaplex a little over and hour north in Atlanta that we also visited on the same day. Varsity's food is pretty similar, and their onion rings and pimento grilled cheese sandwich were phenomenal, but in terms of hot dogs, Nu-Way wins hands down.
Nu-Way Weiner Stand
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.