BEST HOT DOGS - 2007
Let's face it: The Twin Cities will never be a hot dog hotspot. The best we can hope for is a faithful simulacrum of Chicago's doghouses, legendary for their atomic-green relish, piles of sport peppers, and—shall we say—"gruff" tableside manner. In that respect, Uncle Franky's is head-and-shoulders above the competition. Their menu is crammed with Windy City favorites (all-beef Chicago dogs, messy beef sandwiches, and burgers) plus a full complement of more Easterly delights (cheesesteaks, brats, New York pastrami, Polish sausages, veggie burgers, and malts). And with prices running from $2.75 for one to $10 for all you can eat, it's no surprise that the little red hut is as stuffed as a Vienna sausage around lunchtime. If the line cooks yell at you to pick up your damn food already, no hard feelings; it's just that there's a line forming, and the elbowroom is scarce. The clientele is about what you'd expect: construction workers with relish in their beards, businessmen with mustard on their ties, women with—okay, not a lot of women. Jay, the jittery and congenial owner, just opened a new shop in Plymouth, but the flagship Northeast location is still alpha dog, if only for the decor. It's a bizarre combination of Chicago sports teams, Scooby Doo, and local typographer extraordinaire Chank (who did the logo). The joint's crown jewel is a Magic Marker rendering of Chicago's skyline by that city's finest outsider artist, the late Wesley Willis. We hear he liked the beef.