A True Taste of Americana – Trivillian’s Pharmacy

Susan says…


Eating at Trivillian’s is like being in a Norman Rockwell painting. The waitstaff deliver milkshakes and hot dogs to patrons, dressed in uniform shirts with their first names embroidered on the front in a cursive font. After my first visit here, I knew this was a place my kids have to experience. Of course they won’t think it’s as cool as I do, but I want to take them there anyway. Maybe they’ll appreciate the memory when they’re older.

I have already gone back a second time before I could finish this review. Misty and I went on about it so much, I think Daniel felt he was missing out. We are mad at Daniel, and Phil. Both of them had been to Trivillian’s and both were well aware they make fresh cut fries.  However, neither of them passed along that critical need-to-know information to us.

Phil had mentioned this eatery in the past, but based on his comments, Misty and I had pictured a small counter with stools and a limited menu featuring chicken salad, soup and hot dogs. What is wrong with this man that didn’t say a word about the fries??? After all the times he has dined with us where we swooned over hot, crispy fresh-cut fries… After all my whining about how CJ Maggies has quit making homemade fries… He even knows I am working on a Top Five Fries post!

Contrary to the imagined version of the eatery I had concocted in my mind, there were quite a few 4-top tables and one large table along with the soda counter and its obligatory bar stools. We chose a table and anxiously grabbed the menu, having already spied a stainless steel tub full of fresh cut potatoes awaiting their turn in the hot oil.

Pleased by the number of choices available to me, including salads, soups, onion rings, milkshakes, BBQ, hamburgers, and hot deli-style sandwiches, I decided on the WVHD for $1.95 and Misty and I split a basket of fries priced at $2.50. While I could easily devour an entire basket (or three) by myself, I pictured my waistline expanding to the point of no longer squeezing into my favorite True Religion jeans and thought it wiser to share with a friend. An all-you-care-to-refill soda is priced at $1.69.


I guess now is as good a time as any to make a startling and embarassing confession: I eat hot dogs like my 8-year old daughter. Stanton’s comment is probably already in cyberspace at this very moment. I thought I would never eat a hot dog in front of the weenee officianado, but since my secret’s out, why not?

I ordered my WVHD minus the WV. That is to say, ketchup only. (a collective gasp) The upside to this crime against all things culinary is that the quality of the bun, weiner and ketchup become even more important when they are not covered up with icky chili and even ickier mayonnaise-laden cole slaw.

I will say the weiner was small-caliber, just the way I like it; the bun was soft and warm; and the ketchup tasted like Heinz. I couldn’t have been happier with my main course. If you would like to read Stanton’s opinion about the WVHD with the WV, click here to see his review on the WV Hot Dog Blog.

The fries. THE FRIES!

These are some of the very best fries I have eaten in the area. I have hit the fresh-cut fry jackpot! First the Sub Shop and now these wonderful sticks of starchy heaven fried until golden, filling a red plastic basket, with crispy potato skin to boot. These fries will definitely be on the Top Five list.  We received a generous quantity for our $2.50. Now I am even more upset with Daniel and Phil – just think of all the fries I could have been eating if only I had known…

As one of the most conveniently located eateries in relation to my workplace, Trivillian’s will be seeing a lot more of me.  I received a delicious and satisfying lunch for only five bucks. Oh yeah – you can get a slice of homemade pie to go along with your slice of Americana.  FOUR FORKS.


Dan says…

I am sorry to say that there is no photographic evidence of my meal except for the fries.  I also apologize for that ghastly picture of how Susan chooses to consume her hot dogs.  I am glad to say you have been saved from the vision of what she actually ate. She took a perfect weiner and put it on a dried out, stale, dare I say crunchy low carb bun. Ack!

In the spirit of full disclosure I must say that the Vegetarian Wife’s paternal grandmother was a Trivillian, but this business has changed hands since then.  I don’t know why we haven’t eaten here more.  See one of Susan’s food hang ups is cold sandwiches and honestly that’s all I remembered about the menu. (don’t get me started about Burger King…honestly I think that Phil and Misty are planning an uprising to be able to eat lunch at the BK.  I think all I have to do is fan the flames a little bit more and I’ll get to watch Susan with a sad face plop a flame broiled patty on a low carb bun…I can’t wait) One look at the menu this time and I decided on a hamburger with all the fixings. The burgers are cooked fresh to order like all the food at Trivillian’s.  I love a fried burger.  A seared patty cooked on a blazing hot griddle placed on a buttered, toasted bun. Oh my.  Then the short order cook tops it with crisp iceberg, ripe tomato, white onion and dill pickles. This is one of the best burgers in the valley.

This place gots pies, too. Unfortunately, except for a fruit pie, the rest all have meringue on them.  I hate meringue, but after asking a half a dozen questions about dessert I felt obligated to order a slice of graham cracker pie.  The filling was good, but the meringue ruined it.

Susan waxed on about the fries for a full paragraph so I think they are covered, but I say this: if you think those two cheese steak chains down the street have good fries you haven’t tasted nothing yet. What I will blather about is I hesitate to eat at drug store soda fountains like Trivillian’s and Griffith & Feil’s. See there is something unsettling about eating a hot dog at a table between the laxatives and the kotex. Honestly it adds a certain authenticity to the atmosphere, but I don’t have to like it.

So if you want a great burger with awesome fries and need to pick up a dusty greeting card to boot then try this FOUR Fork soda fountain.

Misty says…

Well, again, I am the last to comment on my Trivillian’s food.  And again, there’s not much left for me to say.  But for a 3rd point of view, I will add a few of my thoughts.


French Fries- Loved Them.

Hot Dog- Loved It. 

Now mine is more of a WVHD than Susan’s.  But it is really just a 50% WVHD.  I like a WV- minus the mustard and onions.  This hotdog had the perfect slaw to chili ratio for me…Which is a little more slaw than chili.  The chili was finely chopped and not spicy;  the slaw was sweet and creamy.  And they were not skimpy on either.  The bun was soft- another positive for me.

The only negative I can say is the second time back- I order the exact same thing and the bun was a little soggy on the bottom when it arrived at the table.  But this obviously didn’t bother me too much, as I have been back yet another time (yes, this makes 3) before this review was posted.

Trivillians is a solid FOUR FORK  establishment!trivillians-exterior

Trivillian’s Pharmacy and Soda Fountain
215 35th Street
Charleston, WV  25304
Trivillians on Urbanspoon

15 responses to “A True Taste of Americana – Trivillian’s Pharmacy

  1. 2 things unsettle me about Trivillian’s. 1, as Dan said, eating amongst the Kotex and laxatives. 2. The sign below theirs, for SKIN CELLAR!?! Who thought up that name? All it makes me think of is The Silence of the Lambs. But! Yes, the food at Trivillian’s is indeed tasty and a great value.

  2. We made sure to put Dan on the side of the table with his back to the Kotex.

  3. It rubs the lotion on its skin…

    I must go try those fries. Thanks for the review!

  4. Misty, it’s OK to leave off the mustard as long as there is chili and slaw.

    Dan, once while waiting on my lunch to be served there I overheard a very personal counseling session between the pharmacist and a customer about how to treat a yeast infection. Hot dogs weren’t quite the same after that.

    Susan, I have nothing to say; you are dead to me.

  5. You haven’t lived until you try their peanut butter chocolate sundae…it’s the best thing you will ever eat!

  6. Travillians is cool and takes me back. Too bad the waitresses are such a grouchy bunch of old hens.

  7. My parents met at Trivillian’s back when Mom worked there in the 50’s, so I have a warm spot for the place. I do miss the epic magazine rack that they used to have up until around 1980, though. Mel and I go there once in a while for lunch, and my kid sister and I go there on the folk’s anniversary. You just gotta ignore the surroundings. It’s great comfort food. I remember the dark days of the late 80s and early 90s when they didn’t even bother to operate the soda fountain or serve food. It’s good to have them back the way they were when Mom and Dad would take us kids there in the 60s.

    It’s also nice to see someone else who doesn’t subscribe to the myth that a WVHD has to have chili and slaw on it. My take, as a born-and-bred West Virginian is that chili does not belong on a hot dog, and cole slaw doesn’t not belong anywhere on a menu. If the weiner tastes so bad that you have to cover it up with other ingredients, then you need to get a better weiner!

    We must end the tyranny of the chili and slaw overlords! FREE THE WEINERS!

    Oh…and try the grilled cheese, too. I agree on the fries, they rock.

  8. Dude-

    I hope Stanton isn’t paying attention. We are both going to get slammed.

    I have noted on many occasions that I am better able to critique the weiner itself since I am not covering it up with a bunch of toppings.

  9. SagaciousHillbilly said the waitresses were a bunch of old hens…. tee hee doesn’t that just “make” the place tho. Remember Alice at Mel’s diner on tv?

  10. No one’s mentioned the hot baloney sandwich so I will. Excellent combination of substantial but not too thick meat, fried to a nice color, with a tangy sauce on a seeded Heiner’s bun. Damn, that’s good eats.

  11. demosthenes.or.locke

    Who cares if you critique the weiner? WV hotdogs are not about the weenie, few hotdogs are. If you are eating a hot dog for the meat quality of the weenie, you have already lost. You eat it for the toppings and the incredible contrast of textures and flavors good toppings provide.

  12. Three words – Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It’s fabulous there.

  13. Speak for yourself on the weiner. I can enjoy a hot dog joint dog piled with fixin’s (though I must not be a true WVian because I don’t like coleslaw on my dog or anywhere else), but I also love a good dog like a Hebrew National simply grilled or pan fried until the skin crisps just to the splitting point with nothing but a little mustard.

  14. I lived in the apartments above Trivillians in the mid-60’s. Great times!

    Trivillian’s was like part of my “home.” The food was great then, and the staff was like part of my family. When I get back to Charleston, I love going to Trivillian’s. Still miss Roger, the pharmacist.

    Montgomery, AL is where I live now, but WV will always be deep within my heart. My godchildren are fans of WV hot dogs, which they would eat for lunch and dinner everyday. (Yes, with mustard, chili, and cole slaw!) They never say they want a “hot dog”……………they want a “WV hot dog.” Loved this article and all the memories it sparked.

  15. Have been eating at Trivillian’s since the early 60’s and made a return trip when we were in Charleston visiting family this past spring. The hot balonga is still the best and we all enjoyed the hot dogs and fries !!!
    Plan in coming back next visit for sure.

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