Let's be frank, when I'm traveling I seek restaurants with local color. I want to dine somewhere I won't find anywhere else. Luckily, when Kent and I were in Pittsburgh last month for a quick over night trip on our way to D.C., we has found great food, and a surprisingly European vibe to the downtown scene. Given a tip from our intrepid food writer and friend, Amanda, we were told to go to Franktuary. Happily, it was within walking distance from our hotel. But, tucked away on a narrow side street, we could have easily missed it.
Franktuary is a hot dog restaurant in a church. It's a bizarre, little gourmet hotdog joint, with black and white tile on the floors, a cooler full of Bolyan’s soda, and red plastic trays. There was a basket of books, including the titles Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog and Horsemen of the Esophagus (which although it was about competitive eaters, had a cover covered in photos of hotdogs.)
I ordered the locavore, which was made from locally sourced grass-fed beef. After choosing the type of hotdog (they also had conventional and vegetarian), I then had my choice of toppings. I chose the Mexican—cheddar cheese, mango salsa, and guacamole. The combination was delicious, the raw red onion in the salsa set off the mango, and the guac gave the whole combination a creamy richness. I decided that the combo really needed the spicy brown mustard and ketchup at the condiment station. The real star of the show, though, was the frank itself. If I can be frank, it was one of the best hotdogs I have ever had. It had that wonderful toothiness, and when I bit into it, the center was gushing with juicy, smoky hotdoginess.
I liked that this hotdog joint was eclectic. We showed up right before closing time, and there was a hipster on his laptop (they offer free wi-fi), a single elderly woman, and a typical nuclear family with teenage kids. The staff was brisk, but friendly at the same time, and clad in a MegaDeath T-shirts. This was the perfect travel eatery because it was the sort of place that you would find nowhere else. We do not have access to a restaurant even remotely resembling this little hole in the wall that we almost missed. So, it had all the wonder of a serendipitous find.