Fancy Franks

I've always relished frankfurters (pun intended) and thought it rather annoying that ballpark vendors, street carts and fast food stands held monopolies on this product. Certainly, many cheaper varieties of hot dogs are rubbery, over-salted and laden with artificial dyes, but the more quality versions are amazingly satisfying, especially when dressed with creative condiments. Consuming gourmet dogs under low lighting and with silverware and cloth napkins makes me feel like I'm eating something sophisticated yet familiar.

The "haute dog" continues to be one of the most popular selections at Max's Wine Dive (4720 Washington Ave.), and I enjoyed it. Served "Texas style" (chili, jalapeños, cotija cheese) or "NY style" (sauerkraut, mustard, pickles), this ginormous Wagyu beef dog overflows onto a crispy baguette. Patrons are left clamoring for napkins to catch the drippings and wondering which vino is sufficiently full-bodied to keep up with this hearty dish.

I also recently tried the "Sheppy's Dogs" at newcomer BRC Gastropub (519 Shepherd Dr.), which had already impressed me with its State Fair Grilled Cheese and Louisiana Boudin Balls. The dish consists of two beef hot dogs adorned with pickles, slaw, mustard and tangy sport peppers, nestled in poppy-seed buns. The dogs themselves were peppery, delicious and well complemented by the light, summery mix of toppings, but the buns were dry and lacking in zip. Poppy seeds do not provide flavor so much as get stuck in your teeth, so BRC might be advised to switch breads or butter the buns a bit before toasting. Additional lubrication from a garlic aioli or homemade ketchup might also improve these otherwise fantastic franks.

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Joanna O'Leary