Excellent | Worth a Detour
Miss Griffin’s Foot Long Hot Dogs | A Chattanooga Best
Review by: Michael Stern
Hot Dog History
When Willie Mae Griffin Hawkins opened a food stand at the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue in Chattanooga in 1939, she sold just one thing: a foot-long hot dog topped with mustard, hot sauce, onions, and her own secret-recipe relish. Over four score years, her foot-longs have gained renown as a Chattanooga best.
About That Relish
Miss Griffin has left the building. But you still can go to the the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue and get that very same dog. It really does stretch 12 long inches — quite a site to admire on one of the tiny tables in the tiny dining room. However, if you order it to go, the server will cut it into two six-inch halves. The hot dog itself is bright red, almost as red as a Maine weenie. The cross-section you see when it gets halved shows the dye seeping in to the pale pink interior. Of course you want it fully dressed. The relish pulses with tangy-sweet flavor that harmonizes so well with mustard and onions. Does it add up to a great frankfurter? Maybe, maybe not. But the combination of toppings in a steamed-soft bun is an inspired example of hot dog harmony.
Hole in the Wall
Over the years, Miss Griffin’s transformed from a food stand to a storefront. Today, it could stand as the illustration for a dictionary’s definition of “hole in the wall.” Years have worn the inside so well that it really does look like it could date back to 1939. The menu has expanded to include the likes of chili dogs, Polish sausage, even a vegetarian wiener. Available toppings now include cheese, bacon, slaw, sauerkraut, sour cream, and jalapeno peppers. You even can get that regional treat, sometimes known as a scrambled dog: a chopped-up hot dog smothered with chili. But if you want the hot dog that has earned reputation as a Chattanooga best, stick with the mustard-hot-sauce-onions-relish combination.
Most business is take-out, but there is minimal seating inside.
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|