Restaurant Review: Franktuary (Pittsburgh)
“Redeeming fast food, one frank at a time.”
This is how the eatery Franktuary describes itself and I am apt to agree. When people think of hot dogs, some may have a look of disgust register across their face (oddballs in my opinion), while others enjoy them but equate them as more of a summer barbecue kind of food. Well, at Franktuary they are neither. They are indeed fast food, but honest to goodness good food and innovative too.
In case you were wondering, Franktuary’s name comes from the fact that its original location is indeed in a sanctuary (Trinity Cathedral to be exact). Clever, right? However, like a lot of businesses in downtown Pittsburgh, Franktuary is a Monday-Friday business hours kind of establishment. However, in January 2013, they opened their second location about five miles away in Lawrenceville, one of my favorite food spots in the city.
Like many buildings in Lawrenceville (excluding the Point, it is the epicenter of “old” in the city), the one that houses Franktuary has been completely revamped and it is gorgeous. It is a perfect testament of old meets new. We went on a Saturday in mid-afternoon and while there were only a few other people eating in the dining room, the bar area was packed (where there are libations, people will go).
The menu is yes, franks (well, and sausages too). Everything is offered from the standard New York style all-beef frank ($3.50) to veggie to fishfurter (wild caught salmon, $4.50) to local sausage (market price). So you can have your plain frank or you can go crazy and select a “style.”
If you ever thought the only way to eat a hot dog was with ketchup and mustard and maybe some relish thrown in, think again. At Franktuary you have 13 styles to choose from ranging from the New Yorker (house kraut, onion sauce, brown mustard-+.75) to the Pittsburgh (smooshed pierogi, slaw-+$1) to more exotic options like Bangkok (Thai peanut sauce, pickled carrot, cilantro-+$1.50) and Negishi (seaweed, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo, and sesame-+$2).
I opted for the Chicago Imposter (+$1.25) since a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to try a Chicago dog. Minus the roll not being poppy seed, it really was spot on to the real thing. Portillos-you would be proud.
D went with the Texan (+$1.50) which was grass-fed beef chili, sharp cheddar, and jalapeños. He finished it in a matter of minutes.
We then (sorta) split a third hot dog, Memphis (+$1). This was topped with slaw, barbecue sauce, and potato sticks. It really was a delicious hot dog.
But I’ll be the honest, the real reason I wanted to try Franktuary was that I read they had POUTINE. Yes, poutine, that incredible salty, rich Canadian comfort food that I enjoyed multiple times during my trip to Montreal last year. We naturally went with the Poutine Quebecoise ($8) but they also had Poutine Philadelphie, which I thought was cool. It wasn’t AS good as the one at La Banquise, but it was pretty darn special all the same.
For an informal meal, you can’t go wrong. But for an informal and truly unique meal, Franktuary is it. You can be sure I’ll be back.
3810 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA. 15201