Franks ‘n’ beans are a time-honored combo almost everywhere, but there are few places where they come together as nicely as in Fall River, Massachusetts. Hot dog shops (of which the city has multitudes) offer them in a bun, the beans serving as a condiment either below or on top of the wiener. I was especially smitten with Graham’s rendition because the beans are so darn good: brown-sugar-sweet, soft and goopy, laced with limp leaves of onion. The same good beans are available bunned with chourico sausage, with kielbasa, and with a hamburger. Or, for a dollar and change, you can buy beans only in a bun.
Should you be interested in outfitting your hot dog with things other than beans, Graham’s has a panoply: ground chourico, bacon, potato chips, Coney Island-style chili sauce, sauerkraut, onions sopped with hamburger juices (that one is known as a whimpy) and cheese. “Ho-hum, cheese,” you say? No, this is no ordinary cheese food product. When you order cheese at Graham’s, either on a hot dog or a hamburger or alone in a bun dressed with some of that Coney sauce and onions, you get something that has a rugged texture like moist breadcrumbs and is unique to Fall River – finely chopped sharp cheddar that strangely, even when hot, doesn’t melt into a blob. All alone, it’s a bit intense; with sauce and onions, it can be a wicked-good snack sandwich.
Dating back to 1962, Graham’s lacks the patina of culinary history that makes so many of the region’s more ancient hot dog joints especially charming. Its school desk seats along the wall are fairly modern and the façade is boring brickface. But the bean dogs and hot cheese sandwiches are exemplary.