Monday, May 18, 2009

Frankly, It’s More Slim Dog Than Hot Dog

Hot dogs are a tricky proposition. People are passionate about what makes the best dogs, and some go crazier over the toppings. But to me, hot dogs are theoretically so bad for you that when I give into it, I don’t really care where I get it. I just want a plump savory dog in a bun piled on with relish and ketchup.

In New York City, I’d just buy one from a street cart for $2. (They’re probably more like $3 these days.)
But in the Bay Area, there’s an almost cult following for the Let’s Be Frank cart, which sells 100-percent grass-fed beef hot dogs. You can only get the hot dogs from the cart near Crissy Field, but two weeks ago Let’s Be Frank opened its first storefront in the Marina.

The hot dog hut on Steiner in the Chestnut Street neighborhood sticks out with its bright yellow-and-red painted exterior next to other dining establishments serving sushi, French-inspired small plates or organic vegetarian fare. I dropped in on a Saturday afternoon and the tiny spot looked charmingly nostalgic with a few counter seats near a large mirror-plate wall.

I ordered a Brat Dog ($5.50) because I wasn’t really in the mood for beef. The Brat Dog is made with family-farmed pork bratwurst and comes with grilled onions. But I passed on the onions and decided to top my dog with cole slaw for an extra $1. (Right now I’m on this BBQ pulled pork-cole slaw-topped sandwich binge.)

They offer a variety of other hot dogs and toppings, chili and desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery. Also off to the side are some branded novelty items for sale, including the signature Devil sauce.

Right off the bat, I noticed that the hot dog was really slim. It definitely wasn’t a ballpark frank. Since I’ve never eaten at the Let’s Be Frank cart before, I can’t tell if this is the typical size of their dogs or if it has shrunk now that they’re paying high rents in the Marina.

The Brat Dog was tasty and juicy with the definite feel of quality ingredients. And it was a good call to add the cole slaw because it was a lot more fun eating it that way. But I can’t say I’m sold on the price and size. I did get this as an afternoon snack, but I still felt hungry afterwards.

I can’t say Let’s Be Frank has steered me toward more sophisticated frankfurters. When I get the urge, I still may just get those concession-stand dogs at the movies. Then I can eat it in the dark without feeling guilty.

Let’s Be Frank, 2218 Steiner St. (between Lombard and Chestnut Streets), San Francisco. Open seven days a week. PH (for catering): 415.674.6755.

Let's Be Frank on Urbanspoon


Cookie said...

Wow, that is a DEPRESSING looking hot dog! Guess we won't be going there unless we ask for a double dog! :)

Mrs. L said...

I'm with you, not a "gourmet" frank kinda gal but I do like good hotdogs/brats etc. Toppings? Varies depending on my mood from just mustard to everything but the kitchen sink.

Frankly (no pun intended :) I'm a bit leery about eating off any of the hot dog carts I've seen in my area.

Carolyn Jung said...

You should have gotten it with the onions. It's the perfect added touch. I had a Let's Be Frank regular hot dog (also thin and quite long in shape) at Slow Food Nation last year. Quite tasty.

foodhoe said...

I hope they expand to the financial district, I'm not going all the way to the marina just for a small organic hot dog! I had a big meaty prather ranch hot dog at pickles that was $6. Now you have me craving a hot dog...