McDowell County doesn't have the greatest reputation. A once-thriving coal-based industry in the area has slowed to a crawl, bringing with it an influx of drug abuse and poverty. It's been documented time and time again. Truth be told, I'm sure the same could be said about many areas of the state.
But I've never been to this county, and I've wanted to go for years. I just wanted to see it for myself. Unfortunate circumstances brought me all the way south, but I made the best of it by stopping at the Sterling Drive-In. The Sterling Drive-In is one of the last drive-ins in the state, so I was excited to check it out (and I also got a nice story out of it for Taste WV).
You can still park, flash your lights and have a carhop come to you ready to take your order. Or, you can park and head inside. Since I had been in my car most of the day, I went inside. The interior has orange vinyl and some photos of cars, news clippings and other memorabilia on the walls.
Looking over the menu, there are sandwiches and dinners and the like. But their "Signature Sterling Sub" is where it's at. It has cranberry sauce, bacon, lettuce, tomato and their special "spread" on a deep-fried bun.
The owners say that no one ever guesses correctly what's in the spread, and few people do know. But it seems to be a pork mixture. Let's hope.
But it's good! It's different, but it's tasty. A little bit of sweet, some crunch, some fresh and something ... odd. The spread isn't entirely noticeable since there are so many toppings, but it's definitely worth it to try and get a taste of the local food culture. It's fun, and I appreciate it for what it is.