Dog Days, Vol. II: Perfectly Franks
Dog Days. The name is derived from the lingering appearance of the brightest star in the night skies of summer. Sirius, the main attraction in the constellation Canis Major, or Big Dog, is a prominent throughout the days of June, July, and August. It’s no coincidence that the hot dog gets a special place on summertime tables. As cuisine has evolved to a high level in the Lowcountry, so has the hot dog. I present you EatThisCharleston.com’s Dog Show.
Dog Days, Vol. II: Perfectly Franks
By Patrick Graham
Summerville is a bit off the beaten path for most people in the metro area, and it's not uncommon for me to have issues with a city's layout if I haven't been there that many times. It's my own fault, as the Ville isn't that far, it has a cute little downtown, and it contains many little gems for one to discover if you look hard enough. Perfectly Franks is one of those gems, and the layout issue I was alluding to is the "parking lot" along North Main. Regulars of this famed hot dog joint are figuratively pointing and laughing at me right now, and some are actually pointing at their computer monitors or smartphones and laughing at their screen. The stack of cars begins right in front of PF's main entrance and continues up the main drag, and as popular as this place is, I knew that an open 8 x 16 foot box of asphalt was going to be a bit of a challenge, even on an off Tuesday. I eventually beat the odds and landed a spot directly in front of one of the most popular eateries in Dorchester County (my mother has "parking karma"...sometimes it works for me).
I do remember the profile that The Food Network did about Perfectly Franks on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" and I knew I would have to come up and experience the legend for myself. As charter members of the "Triple-D" viewing club, my wife and I remember the Pork Loin Po Boy and the Crispy Chicken Leg, but I was being summoned telepathically by the dog menu. With names like Frank the Tank, Frankie Avalon, Frank Lloyd Wright), Frank Thomas (true and topical Chicago dog name), Franco Harris (a Pittsburgh-influenced recipe), Franklin's Tower (big ups for the Dead reference), and Frank Zappa (a "veggie" dog), I was in the midst of a difficult decision: which two are going to fill the spots on today's gastronomical roster? I decided to go with the Aretha Franklin (yes, it has soul, pictured below) and the Frank Rizzo (simply the best dog name of all time, pictured on the right).
The Frank Cuda (the concoction that was featured on Triple-D) was laden with pulled pork barbecue, bleu cheese coleslaw, and crispy onions. Because I’m lame, I’m not a huge fan of bleu cheese, so that’s why I broke with television tradition and started zooming with the Aretha Franklin. If you didn’t get that last reference, I understand. If you did, my condolences. Anyway, 90 percent of the Frank Cuda is on the Aretha Franklin, so I have complete respect for putting the Frank Cuda on the show, because it’s great; pulled pork and coleslaw are an obvious pairing I have come to enjoy.
So here’s the shocker: the Frank Rizzo. Being a huge Jerky Boys fan (and therefore old), I felt the need to pick up this dog with the simple formula: applewood smoked bacon, roma tomato, romaine lettuce, and a spot of mayonnaise. That’s right, I said it, a BLT dog just beat the Frank Cuda and the Aretha Franklin. Blasphemy, you say? Not if you consider the freshness of the romaine lettuce and the roma tomato (which was locally grown, so I am told). Few things excite my palate more than “simple and fresh”, and that is why the Frank Rizzo gets the nod.
I was too engrossed in my plate to notice Perfectly Franks’ accessories, which is a large
dining room that includes what I would call a stage-- it seems like a book signing or a band should be happening every day at lunchtime. I was also especially fond of the availability of tiny Cokes and Sprites in bottle form, and even Sun Drop, Cheerwine, and various flavors of Nehi. Old school, indeed. So if Guy Fieri can’t convince you to head up to Summerville to check out Perfectly Franks, maybe an old Jerky Boys fan can.
P.S. My Altima got a better parking spot than Fieri's Camaro..