Which Charlotte hot dog joint was just named best in the nation?

Written by Joe Marusak

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In this 2005 Charlotte Observer file photo, Victor Werany, "The Chili Man", jokes around while preparing a hot dog for Joe Miller, center, as Clay McCullough waits his turn during lunch time. Photo by David T. Foster III

A Charlotte hot dog joint has been named the best in the nation.

Chili Man is actually a hot dog cart at South Tryon and Fourth streets in uptown Charlotte — and the owner, Victor Werany, goes by the “Chili Man” nickname.

Chili Man ranked No. 1 on Money magazine’s Top 10 list based on an algorithm that included the number of Yelp reviews as well as Yelp’s star-rating system, according to the magazine. The magazine and Yelp chose no more than one hot dog establishment per state for the Top 10.

Other spots featured on the list include No. 4 Happy Dog Hot Dogs, a hot dog cart in Santa Cruz, California, and No. 8 Sweet Dogs of Miami, Florida.

Chili Man was named tops the country in part because of its “charismatic owner,” the magazine said.

“Regulars describe Werany as a ‘nut ball,’ frequently wearing a Captain America T-shirt to work amid the bankers in downtown Charlotte,” the magazine said..

Money magazine also pointed out that Werany was named Charlottean of the Year by Charlotte Magazine last year. The honor recognized Werany for assisting in the creation of a nonprofit that helps a family pay for their child’s spina bifida treatments, Money said.

According to a 2015 Charlotte Observer profile article, Werany, a native of Middletown, New York, moved to the Queen City in 1995 with his wife, Tara. He previously worked as a comedian, chef, camp counselor and a bar manager before his wife came up with the street cart idea, the article said.

Chili Man told the Observer in 2015 that the street cart let him be home with the couple’s children after school and avoid being told ‘you are too loud’ by almost every former boss he had.

Charlotte regularly appears in Top 10 rankings, some good — and some not-so-good.

In April, Orkin, the pest control company, ranked Charlotte ninth and Raleigh-Durham No. 17 among the nation’s top 50 cities for mosquitoes.

Skeeters or no, Money magazine ranked Charlotte No. 1 Best Big-City Bargain in the country in its 2014 Best Places to Live list.

And in November 2017, the Cost Conscious Consumer Index ranked Charlotte as the most socially responsible big city in America, based on its earth-friendly practices, socially conscious shoppers and nonprofit giving.

This story first ran at CharlotteObserver.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Chili Man serves a good dog and is a solid guy and deserved all the good mojo in the world for his contributions to humanity…. That said, any Top 10 List that excludes everyplace in Chicago and Crif Dogs in the East Village has absolutely zero cred.

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