JK’s looks like any modern fast-food restaurant, but photographs on the wall tell another story: decades of weenie history. The nostalgic black-and white pictures show JK’s with its hot-dog sign hanging over Main Street many years ago; interior pictures show a spic-and-span diner that has served the Hat City’s working-class clientele since the 1930s.
The place may have changed, but old-timers tell us that the Texas hot wieners on which JK’s built its reputation remain precisely the same charming little frankfurters they’ve always been. They are plump sausages, split lengthwise and cooked until slightly crusty on the surface, loaded into a big spongy roll, then topped with mustard, onions, and hot sauce with a chili-pepper kick. No single element of this arrangement has flavor to write home about, but the combination is powerfully addictive. You might order two, with a thick chocolate milk shake on the side, but midway through the second dog, you will likely be flagging down the waitress for a third, and possibly a fourth. The speedy gals who tend the short counter and the booths throughout the dining room are masters of balance, toting up to six or eight hot dog plates to different tables in a single trip from the semi-open kitchen in back.
There are all sorts of other things on JK’s menu, from silver dollar pancakes at breakfast to New England’s favorite Grape-Nuts pudding for dessert, but it’s the devilish Texas dogs that put this restaurant on our map. Some connoisseurs order them with cheese, chili, and/or bacon in addition to the usual condiments; it’s also possible to get a heap of excellent house-made slaw on top or to get the bun toasted: all interesting strategies, but we suggest first-timers stick with the original configuration … at least for the first round.