In December of 2009, I made the trek across the US in my Saab, packed to the gills with my life and my dog as I moved from LA to New York City. On day 7 of the trip, we hit Ohio around lunch time. Specifically, Columbus, Ohio.
My travel companion jumped on Yelp to find a good place to eat and he came across Dirty Frank’s, a hot dog place that offers bacon-wrapped hotdogs. Knowing that I’m a bacon freak weirdo, he immediately navigated our caravan toward Dirty Frank’s.
There are many reasons I liked my lunch at Dirty Frank’s. First of all, “dirty” is in the title and I’m a child so it made me giggle. Second, they support local musicians. I dig that. Third, they love to wrap bacon around hotdogs. The establishment was basically a hat-trick of happiness.
I follow Dirty Frank’s on Twitter even though I live in New York City and their establishment is woefully too far away for a taxi. A few weeks ago I saw that they had new bacon hotdog items called the Tijuana Dog and the Hula Dog. Squee! So naturally, I had to contact them to satiate my inner bacon-nerd.
I was lucky enough to chat with owner, Elizabeth Lessner LaRue. I had many questions for her and she was kind enough to give me all the answers I needed.
ME: When did you start making bacon wrapped hotdogs?
ELIZABETH: We read an article last year that bacon-wrapped hot dogs were about to be banned from hot dog carts in Los Angeles due to concerns about the bacon not being cooked to a safe temperature. We hated to hear of anyone banning a hot dog! We hadn’t heard of a bacon-wrapped dog until then and decided to give it a try in support of our bacon dog friends in California.
We experimented with bacon-wrapped hot dogs by wrapping them with bacon, securing the bacon with toothpicks and then deep frying them until the bacon became crispy. After we fried the bacon-wrapped dog, we’d pull the toothpicks out and put it on a bun. So many different combinations of toppings taste great on a hot dog, the possibilities were endless. Once you try it, you’ll never want a hot dog any other way.
ME: That’s so true! So that brings me to the question, what’s your personal interest in bacon?
ELIZABETH: There’s an arts collective here in Columbus, Ohio called Wild Goose Creative and they held their first annual Bacon Camp a couple of years ago. When you arrive to bacon camp you are greeted to the sizzle and smell of freshly frying bacon just outside the door. As you stand in line to register you can eat the fresh, crisp bacon and you are given some interesting gifts: bacon-flavored lip balm, bacon buttons, bacon seasoning and much more. There were bacon themed arts and crafts and a bacon inspired food competition. The Bacon Camp organizers asked me to judge the food competition. I sampled bacon pierogies, bacon doughnuts, bacon ice cream, bacon cakes, bacon cupcakes and more bacon than I could actually stomach. It was quite a shocking display of bacon debauchery! After that, we had a lot of fun experimenting with bacon at our restaurants. Our sister restaurant, Surly Girl Saloon made a bacon-infused vodka as well as bacon flavored cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
ME: I think I’m going to have to come back to Columbus to try those cupcakes! I also want to try your new bacon-wrapped dogs, The Tijuana and Hula dogs. What are the ingredients and how were they “invented”?
ELIZABETH: We are huge fans of Serious Eats hot dog artist, Hawk Krall. Krall has a painting of the Tijuana dog and we have it hanging inside Dirty Frank’s. We simply copied the ingredients that we were able to recognize on the painting including grilled jalapenos, avocado, pineapple, cream cheese and pico de gallo. The Hula Dog is just our bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with one of our most popular hot dog toppings: spicy pineapple salsa. The bacon and pineapple taste terrific together.
ME: Okay, now I’m drooling. Can you list for our readers all your bacon items Dirty Frank’s offers?
ELIZABETH: We offer a bacon wrapped dog for any of our specialty dogs. We also offer real bacon bits as a popular dog topping. Our most popular bacon wrapped dog is the classic Texas Tommy. It’s wrapped with bacon AND stuffed with cheese. Our Texan regulars introduced us to this one and it’s a house favorite. We also always carry the BLT dog, all the usual suspects over a bacon-wrapped dog. It’s a simple one and a great seller. You can’t beat a BLT!
The Sonoran is another dog inspired by a Hawk Krall painting, it’s a bacon-wrapped dog topped with refried beans, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, mayo, green chiles, onions and tomatoes. Our Puff the Magic Popper Dog is topped with cheddar cream cheese, jalapenos & real bacon bits. The T-Dog is topped with Sriracha mustard, roasted red peppers, shredded cheddar and real bacon bits.
ME: I had the Texas Tommy when I was there and it was DELISH. So last question, is there bacon in your future?
ELIZABETH: Indeed, we are always experimenting with bacon and always looking for the next new fun idea!
My thanks to Elizabeth for answering my questions and to the General Manager, Harold LaRue, for the great pics! If you find yourself in Columbus, Ohio, people, GO GET YOUR BACON ON AT DIRTY FRANK’S!
– Jennifer Eolin