This past summer, I had a ritual with the friends I was interning with. Every Friday we skipped the salads, and attempts at being healthy, and hit the streets of Toronto to try some hidden gems. We coined our hour lunch on Friday ‘fat ass Friday’ and simply indulged. Since we only had an hour, or less if the day was busy, we mostly only tried places near Queen Street West—close to work. We tried Come and Get It (my ultimate favourite), Banh Mi Boys, Melt (Grilled Cheese), BQM and a few others. The one place that we never crossed off our list was Fancy Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs. Today, I crossed it off my personal list.
I briefly looked at their online menu and was excited to try their gourmet dogs! I haven’t had the best of luck with street meat in the past; I had some, a little over a year ago, and got food poisoning. I’ve been turned off ever since. But Franks is 100% off the street and also promoted as 100% beef, so I wasn’t weary. They also mentioned that their beef is only shoulder meat—this comforted me since you always hear hotdogs are made from the “leftover” animal bits. Yikes, just talking about this stuff has me debating becoming a vegetarian. And on that note, yes Franks does offer veggie dogs at no extra charge.
I was wonderfully greated by the people working in Franks & sat down at their varnished wood tables. Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” was playing & I bobbed my head as I waited. The next song was JT’s “Mirrors.” Fun soundtrack; I kind of liked that they weren’t playing a generic radio station. But, I did notice that their wasn’t wifi. I mean nowadays everyone probably has data, but hey — I’m a student, wifi makes my world go round.
Now came the fun bit. I was lucky enough to get to try TWO gourmet dogs: The “Frankie Goes to Buffalo” and the “Franks Got Seoul.” Both wonderfully creative names & two of the best sellers. Let’s take a look at what they are!
My Frankie Goes to Buffalo:
You know how at McDonalds, the big mac always looks giantic on the menu & then in real life you mistake it for the happy meal burger? That was NOT the case at Franks. I personally think my hot dog looked better than the picture!
The toppings were wonderful. I’ve never had such delicious chicken bacon bits; the second they hit my taste buds I didn’t know what to do, they were fantastic. I enjoyed the fried hot dog & the veggies on top made me feel slightly better about the fact that it was fried. They were also notably fresh — the manager mentioned that all the produce (& cheese) is purchased locally, at Kensington Market. I don’t remember there being any buffalo wing sauce, but there were so many tastes that I may just have dazed off into food-heaven & forgot. The blue cheese dressing however, was obviously there & could have calmed down a slight bit. I liked it, cause I like the flavour, but others might find it overpowering.
Overall: It was delicious. I liked the fresh veggies & fried hot dog. Extra points for amazing chicken bacon bits! I could have ate just them alone and been satisfied.
My Franks Got Seoul:
Again, I honestly think my actual hot dog looks better than the advertisement.
Definitely more voluptuous. This was another explosion of taste. At first I thought it might be a weird combination on a hot dog — Kimchi doesn’t sound especially hot dog friendly; but it was to die for. This Fancy Frank had even more flavour than the first. It was a little liquidy though, so I’d recommend grabbing a few napkins. The manager informed me that the beef ribs are cooked and marinated (for four hours) in house and that they “pull the meat right off the bone.” There’s something about personal involvement in food creation that makes it that much more delicious; as they say, the secret ingredient is love—personal involvement technically equals love, right? Again, all the ingredients tasted superbly fresh & yummy.
Overall: It’s an adventurous combination. While I didn’t LOVE the regular, plain, seemingly boiled hot dog vs. the previous fried one, the toppings quickly had me forgetting that. Definitely a gourmet frank that I would recommend.
While I only tried two Fancy Franks, they have tons on their menu. A PB & J dog, a baked beans and bacon dog (ft. maple syrup), a coney island dog (which makes me think of a scene from my favourite movie, Paper Moon… “eat yo coney island”), a smoked gruyere dog, a wrapped prosciutto dog, a greek-feta dog & the list literally goes on.
And if you want to add more to your dog, you can! Fancy Franks had tons and tons of additional toping options.
There’s even Sriracha sauce!
Oh, and did I mention that there’s donuts?
The mini-donuts are the perfect way to end a meal. They’re delicious, light and full of fun flavours. Out of the three I tried, my favourite was easily the Nutella & crushed biscotti — in the middle of the picture above. For only $2.50 for 1/2 a dozen, it won’t kill your wallet.
On that note, while the Fancy Franks are a bit on the pricer side ($6-$8), bring your student card with you & you’ll get 15% off. It’s definitely a meal you should try at least once, so take advantage of the student offer while you can!
It also doesn’t stop there; Fancy Franks has fries (including poutine), milkshakes, side salads & more. Everything with it’s own personal flair. The idea is clever – taking a simple thing like a hot dog & dressing it up.
If you’re looking to get to Fancy Franks, it’s quite close to Ryerson:
And there’s a 24hr street car stop right outside:
If you’re not in a TTC mood, it only costs about $10 by cab, from campus.
After I checked out Franks yesterday, we asked you what your favourite hidden gems are. Thank you for answering! Here were some of the answers:
@elle_darcy: It’s gotta be Karine’s Vegan Restaurant! The best all day breakfast around
@heyitsa_btw: Burrito Bandidos
@moomerx: @freshrestaurants hands down best vegetarian food in the city!
@its_nene: Fran’s!!!!!!!! Their breakfast is amazing.
I’ve had a few of those, but I need to check out the rest!
Where’s your favourite place to eat? Let me know in the comment below. And, if there’s a food place that you want to try, but are slightly intimidated by their menu, let me know on Twitter @evesharabi & maybe I’ll head on over and check it out for you!
A special thanks to Fancy Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs for having me, I had a wonderful time & an even more wonderful meal! Check them out across social media: