Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs debuts outside First Niagara Center - PHOTOS
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 17, 2013 @ 3:50pm
Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs does not sell your average Sahlen’s frank—that’s what the Buffalo.com team learned today in front of the First Niagara Center.
On their opening day, quickly-rebranded Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs—formerly Let’s Be Frank—embarked on their food truck venture. Through an interview earlier this week with co-owner Frank Tripi, it was clear that the new mobile vendor wouldn’t duplicate what dozens of hot dog carts were already producing.
Arriving a little after 12:30 p.m., we stood in a line of five or six people as another half dozen waited for their food. Co-owner Paul Tripi—Frank’s fraternal twin—handled the cash register, greeting each customer with a complimentary peanut butter and chocolate cookie.
“It was pretty quiet for the first hour, from 11:30 [a.m.] to around 12:30 [p.m.],” Paul Tripi (pictured below) said while wrapping a few hot dogs in foil. “It’s gotten a lot busier since then, though.”
The 1999 truck is a fairly vibrant yellow, not unlike R&R BBQ and the Cheesy Chick. What’s really piqued the curiosity of food truck advocates, however, is what Tripi’s menu would look like. Wait no longer!
Eager to try a number of the specialty dogs, we ordered six:
1) Violet Beauregarde—Blueberry BBQ sauce, onion crunch and shredded cheddar, $4.
Notes: Kat’s favorite of the half-dozen dogs, the Violet Beauregarde was innovative and sweet. If you’ve never had blueberry BBQ sauce before, this one’s definitely a risk, but if you prefer sweeter toppings and a rather strong blueberry flavor, then V-Bo wouldn’t be a bad selection. The onion crunch is a nice textural touch as well.
2) Chelsea Lately— Coleslaw, BBQ sauce, crumbly bleu cheese, $4.
Notes: Thick curds of bleu cheese lay atop crunchy coleslaw—this dog wins in texture even if it wasn’t in our top three favorites overall. For many, BBQ sauce on top of a hot dog will be a new experience, but wieners are such a blank slate that almost anything works if you approach with an open mind. Frank’s use of coleslaw is reminiscent of Lloyd Taco Truck’s choice of cabbage over lettuce
3) Holy Moly—Guacamole, sriracha, cilantro, $4.
Notes: The Holy Moly rounded out my top three, largely due to its simplicity and flavor combination. Nothing more than guacamole and sriracha on top of a Sahlen’s hot dog—with a little cilantro to finish—the creaminess of the guac proved a nice contrast for the still-noticeable sriracha. One of the spicier options for sure, this specialty hot dog appeals to those with bolder taste—even if the dog may not look the part.
4) Proud Mary—Bacon-wrapped, Tijuana hot cream cheese, caramelized onions, $4.
Notes: The pride of Credence Clearwater Revival was my favorite—the perfect hot dog to nosh on while drinking a beer. The Tijuana hot cream cheese was a glorious choice—it’s very spicy and creamy, and it definitely dominates the taste. A pile of caramelized onions adds texture on top and makes the whole experience a tad sloppy, just as the chewy bacon can be a bit of a challenge to sink your teeth through. A terrific idea for a hot dog, and it’s no surprise that Frank Tripi was particularly pumped about this one.
5) Chili Dog—Chili, yellow mustard, onion, kraut or slaw, cheddar, $5.
Notes: Katie, Kat and I wouldn’t normally select a chili dog as our top choice, and there’s a little sweetness to the chili that was surprising. It’s a typical chili dog, we thought, but what’s a hot dog truck without a chili dog option on the menu? The chili dog was our sixth hot dog of the afternoon, however, so we were 90% into our food coma by this point.
6) Quito—Tortilla-wrapped, refried beans, fresh salsa, cheddar, guacamole, $5.
Notes: The personal favorite of both Kat and Katie—and Ben T.‘s second favorite—there was so many flavors at work in the Quito that each bite was considerably different. Smooth guacamole, fresh tomatoes, creamy refried beans, mildly spicy salsa, cheese and a Sahlen’s hot dog wrapped in a crunch tortilla made this well worth spending the extra dollar. Aside from the fried tortilla—and, well, the hot dog—the Quito may also be the most health-conscious of the specialty dogs we sampled.
The twin Tripis also have a little humor on their truck—just look at the tip jar:
Buffalo.com’s Katie—always a big fan of the camera—couldn’t let this post go without a picture of her frolicking in front of a food truck: