Central Ohio Hot Dogs that Are Worth the Drive
What we like about Hometown Hot Dogs in Millersport and Mad Dogs in Marysville
When West Virginia native Kim Oxley moved to the Buckeye Lake area, she could not find a hot dog as good as what she grew up with in West Virginia.
“I went to Skyline and was like, ‘What is this?’” she recalls. She missed the wares of West Virginia’s Hometown Hot Dogs, so she decided to open up her own location of the franchise. And it’s been a staple of the community for nearly 25 years.
Hometown’s signature wiener is the West Virginia Dog ($3). This delightful filled-to-the-brim frank is topped with coleslaw that sinks into layers of mild, medium or hot Coney sauce, cut onions and yellow mustard. It certainly requires a fork, and most customers order two at a time.
The small diner lacks the generic branding of a franchise and has self-serve drinks, six booths and four tables, as well as barside seating and an open kitchen, where longtime employees stay busy. The slaw is made daily, the Coney sauce is made once a week, and every morning, Oxley’s husband gets up at 4 a.m. to hand-cut the fairlike french fries, which are served in monumental portions.
When she first opened, Oxley was considered an outsider. “It was a slow start,” she remembers. “People said, ‘You’re not going to make it just selling hot dogs.’ But now I’m [one of] their own.”
One of Hometown’s most notable guests was Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. At first, Oxley didn’t believe it was him. “He ordered a large fry,” she remembers, “and we argued about whose chili was the best.”
But Oxley’s favorite guests are her regulars. Recently, eight high school seniors came into the restaurant, teens she’d seen at Hometown since before they even started school. “Now they’re all grown up,” she says. “That makes you feel good.” 12031 Lancaster St. NE, Millersport, 740-467-1310
Mad Dogs—a veteran-owned, dark gray and yellow restaurant housed in a grand, former bank building with high ceilings—opened in downtown Marysville right as the pandemic was kicking off in 2020. With the song “Sister Christian” playing over the speakers at this hangout, the first thing to do is order one of the 24 beers on draft and a starter of Tater Kegs—essentially potatoes mashed with cheese and bacon, then fried in the shape of a tiny keg.
For hot dog purists who like a simple squeeze of mustard and that’s it, this may not be your spot. Mad Dogs likes it loaded. The Mac Attack, for example, is a fork-and-knife affair: An all-beef frankfurter is served on a garlic brioche bun and topped with mac ’n’ cheese, cheddar cheese and chives (you know, to add a vegetable element). Meanwhile, the Firecracker dog brings the heat with nacho cheese, jalapeños and, yes, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. 108 S. Main St., Marysville, 937-553-9616
This story is from the June 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.