what: Chili Dog
where: Jimmy’s Mart, 9900 Two Notch Rd., 803-736-3440
People always talk about hotdogs in the summer. It is true, there is something special about pulling a grill out with friends and kicking back a few blistering dogs in the hot heat. When it comes to South Carolina and hot dogs, though, I think of colder days, when the when wind is crisp and the leaves are dropping. When it gets to be fall or winter, I don’t think about those dark, charred dogs anymore — it’s chili dog season to me.
Few places in Columbia deliver on that promise better than Jimmy’s Mart, the legendary Northeast gas station. Tucked in the back of the store, the gas station features the most humble of kitchens — basically a bunch of crockpots and a tiny grill for flipping breakfast sandwiches.
It’s basically a hot dogs or bust operation here. Fortunately, the hotdogs are special. The chili is rich and meaty, with finely diced onions and a thin layer of mustard on top of a plump dog — made all the better if you opt for a massive smoked sausage. This is straight Carolina comfort food.
For the coldest of days ahead, Jimmy’s also has their famous catfish stew — one of the last places in the city that you can find it the way it’s been done for decades here in the Midlands. It’s thick, hearty and an essential taste of the region that everyone should at least try once in their lives.