Born in Chicago, I naturally spend a lot of time thinking about hot dogs. Dozens of regional variations all are worthy of attention, including baroque Sonoran dogs in Tucson, the Coney Islands of Detroit (vs. the Coney Islands of Cincinnati), Newark Italian dogs, the bright red weenies of Maine and the white hots of upstate New York. That is why the posted menu at Frankinbun induces heavenly catatonia. What to order, what to order? There are so many enticing options.
How about a hot dog billed as Frankie Goes to Chicago? Sure enough, the concept is Windy City-right: a snappy beef sausage, bright yellow mustard, sweet green piccalilli, a length of crunchy dill pickle, tomatoes, a scattering of sport peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt in a poppy-seed bun. It differs from a true Chicago dog in that it’s about 50% bigger; and the bun, rather than being squishy-fresh, is toasted. But I am not complaining!
Chicken and waffles is a best dish. You might well ask: How does chicken and waffles fit on a hot dog menu? The answer: brilliantly. A succulent chicken sausage gets planted on a stick, thoroughly wrapped in a crisp, malty, just-cooked waffle, and served with a cup of syrup for dipping. It is so easy to eat.
Frankinbun’s currywurst is a strange cross-cultural twist: bratwurst cut into bite-size pieces bathed in spicy/sweet red curry sauce. I’m not sure it’s an idea whose time has come, but I had no problem laying waste to a basketful. If none of the suggested house combos suit your taste, you can create your own by selecting from a list of nine different sausages (including one that’s vegan) and toppings that range from mustard and onions to mango or date chutney.
French fries are cooked right (twice) so they become a fetching balance of crisp edge and creamy middle. House-made potato salad is terrific, too, with a pickly twist. And there’s a tornado potato, which is something like an infinitely long coiled potato chip from which you pull off pieces as you wish.
Frankinbun is a minuscule eatery with a small patio out front and a large measure of style. Note the artistic wallpaper, the pattern of which graces house-signature Aloha shirts, available for purchase at just under $100 each.