For several months now, a large number (more than a thousand, actually) of technologically-advanced Columbus foodies have been following the dramatic saga of Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace. We hungrily looked on (via Twitter) as a soap opera set in downtown Columbus took place. We fell in love with the characters, heroes (a slushie machine, sriracha sauce, and hand-painted portraits of Hall & Oates) and villains (the City of Columbus codes office) alike. And social media prevailed, as we celebrated the hot dog joint’s long-awaited opening by doing something absolutely preposterous.
We went downtown. In the evening. On a weekday.
The first thing I noticed on my inaugural visit to Dirty Franks was that in the early evening, downtown Columbus – while empty – is quite charming.
The restaurant itself was far from empty. It’s safe to say that Dirty Frank’s held 98% of the people within a ten block radius last Monday evening. And for good reason. This restaurant, featuring good, cheap and unpretentious food had a timely opening: smack dab in the middle of a recession.
A hot dog (yes, that’s cream cheese) and a side dish cost only $5. And the wide selection (of both side dishes and varieties of hot dogs) guarantees future visits. Fried leeks. Tater Tots. Hot dogs topped with beef brisket, sriracha slaw or mango chutney. Even if a combination is a bit strange, at $3 per hot dog, no decision is bad.
My choice, the Razzle Dazzle (a Vienna all-beef hot dog served with cream cheese, grilled peppers and fresh onions) was one of the more traditional options on the menu. Filling and good, I think that next time, I’ll try something a little more daring. I tried a bite of my friend’s Woah Nellie!, topped with shredded beef brisket, and I’m fairy certain that it’s the next dog up to bat. And although I enjoyed the hand-cut fries, I couldn’t stop stealing Baseball Boy’s tater tots. Unlike most things nostalgic, these tater tots tasted better than those from my youth.
Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace
248 South 4th Street