Heading down to the Middle East (of Alabama), we were rolling down I-85 and realized that we were running out of choices, rapidly, for lunch (if we wanted to eat soon) when I remembered seeing a sign about chili dogs last time we went to Pine Mountain. Nearing 185, I saw the sign for Charlie Joseph’s and knew where we’d be heading for lunch. Open since 1920, in downtown LaGrange, Charlie Joseph’s is a Southern institution. With a walk-up, street side window, small booths and counter service, you have a variety of ways to get your classic fast food.
The view above is from the end of the counter, closest to the street, where we found a couple of seats. Below is looking back, into the restaurants, from the kitchen (which you kind of have to walk through on the way to the bathroom – if you get lost, like I did).
The menu is mainly burgers and hot dogs (the chili dog billboard lured me in), but my beloved was drawn to the toasted peanut butter and jelly. Yep – a childhood classic, served on toasted white bread. The only thing missing is your mom to cut the crusts off…
I went with a chili dog and a cheeseburger. They were simple and tasty. Was it the best of either that I’ve ever had? No – not even the best that I’ve had recently. But there was something so comfortable about the place. The crowd crossed race and class lines and, based on talking to the folks around us, this is a family experience. People bring their grandkids back to where they used to eat burgers and dogs (like at the Varsity or South 21).
If you’re in the area, you ought to stop in, just for the experience. And from everyone that I talked to, around the area, you need to eat at the downtown (Bull Street) location, not the newer one. They also serve a lemon sour, which is just soda water and lemon juice, with salt. Sounded strange, so we tried it. We decided that it was not for us – but they sell a lot of them.