by Sarah Steimer
Obviously the best way to start a post about hot dogs is a picture of three people eating hot dogs. There’s no elegant way to do it, even if the dogs are gourmet. (Does my hand/face look crazy in the picture or what?)
Brenden and I met our friend David, who works at Duquesne University, down at Franktuary on Oliver Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. The shop is located where all hipsters love to be: church. It’s in the back of the Trinity Cathedral in the heart of the city, but doesn’t even remotely mimic the gothic atmosphere of the cathedral. It has an atmosphere that can be best described as a kindergarten cafeteria… for adults. It’s a cozy, colorful room with humor.
There are three kinds of dogs on the menu that you can order: regular, tofu and locavore. The locavore (which we all opted for on this trip) is made with local, organic grass-fed beef. It’s a little more expensive (by two bucks) than the other two options, but you get more bang for your buck as it’s 1/5 pound, versus the regular’s 1/7 and the tofu’s 1/6 pound. Plus it’s healthy for both you and the environment.
You can choose to build your own toppings or go off of the traditional or gourmet menus. I went traditional with a New Yorker ($5.50) that had sauerkraut, vidalia onion sauce and brown mustard. All of the dogs sit on a fresh, thick slice of bread, which helped to downplay the spicy toppings on my dog. I loved the way the flavors worked with my soda, a Jamaican Ginger Beer that definitely beats the pants off of our regular Ginger Ale. I mean you can actually taste ginger.
Brenden has been aching for his hometown since moving to Boston (am I exaggerating a little? Maybe. But he does miss it!), so he chose the Pittsburgh ($6), which is topped with smooshed pierogie and coleslaw.
David was the only one of us who had been to Franktuary before, and quite a bit. He said it used to be his go-to lunch place, as it’s within walking distance from Duquesne. (By the way, he’s tried the tofu dog and isn’t a fan.) Dave went with the Southern Belle ($6), topped with coleslaw and chili.
We all ended up getting sides, chili for Brenden and I and pierogies for Dave, as well as drinks, so this isn’t exactly a $6 snack. But each dog was under $6 by itself! And I almost forgot, if you choose to make your meal a combo you get one of those little gummy candies in the shape of a hot dog. They’re not good at all, but that’s not really the point.
Everyone was more than happy with their decisions. Granted, it’s a little more expensive than a traditional hot dog stand or any other fast-food joint for that matter — but it is worth it. On top of offering local, healthy food options, Franktuary also donates 1 percent of store profits to global charities while an additional 1 percent supports community non-profits. Their care for the planet coupled with how downright delicious their food is makes it obvious why they’ve gotten rave reviews from Pittsburgh publications and “nobodies” alike.
Visit Franktuary in downtown Pittsburgh: 325 Oliver Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222; http://franktuary.com
Photos: Sarah Steimer (with help, I couldn’t photograph myself eating.)
*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.