Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Franktuary (Downtown)

Franktuary is one of those places that had been on my radar for a while, but because I don't work downtown (they are only open Mondays to Fridays from 10 am-3 pm), I never got a chance to check it out until about three weeks ago when I had a downtown appointment in the morning and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to come by for lunch afterwards.  Franktuary is located in the basement of a church on Oliver Street but it's pretty spacious and comfortable, and for a bonus, there is also free wifi.  (I am actually writing part of this blog right here at the shop!)

On my first visit I had wanted to try the Mexico, but was told that the avocados they got that morning were subpar so they weren't able to serve guacamole that day.  I had been really excited about the Mexico, but I was glad that at least they cared about the ingredients they used.  So instead I decided to go with the New Yorker, with sauerkraut, vidalia onion sauce, and brown mustard, paired with Franktuary's locavore frank - organic, grass-fed, all-beef frank from a farm just an hour north of Pittsburgh in Volant, PA.

New Yorker Locavore Frank at Franktuary
Locavore Frank, New Yorker Style ($5.50)

The frank was really, really delicious: Thick, juicy, and full of flavor.  I'll admit I'm actually not normally a huge fan of hotdogs, but the locavore was the bomb.  I have also never had sauerkraut on a hotdog before and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.  The hotdog itself is not very large, so for a more fulfilling meal, most people would probably want to get two franks or at least a side to go with one frank.

A couple weeks later I once again found myself in downtown Pittsburgh right around lunch time, and I knew I just had to go back to Franktuary.  This time, I ordered two Gourmet Franks:  1) The Mexico with cheddar cheese, mango pineapple salsa, and guacamole on top of a Vegan Tofu Frank - because I really had to have the Mexico this time and I was also curious about tofu frank, and 2) The Pittsburgh with smooshed pierogie, cole slaw on top of a Locavore frank - because I had to have the locavore again and because I just had to try the Pittsburgh style at least once.

Mexico Veggie Frank at Franktuary
Veggie Frank, Mexico Style ($4.00)

Pittsburgh Locavore Frank at Franktuary
Locavore Frank, Pittsburgh Style ($6.00)

I liked the guacamole and the salsa toppings on the Mexico.  The vegan tofu frank itself was...interesting.  It actually had the texture and color of a regular dog you might find commercially packaged at your local supermarket, but only with a slight tofu taste instead of a meat flavor.  I think it could be great with a little seasoning.  But if you're not restricted by a vegetarian diet, the tofu frank is really no competition for the locavore.  Once again, I was impressed by how flavorful it was.  The Pittsburgh toppings were pretty good - better than I had expected, for someone who's not really a huge fan of pierogies and cole slaw (shhh!).

The one thing that I feel I should mention, despite the fact that I hate saying anything negative, is that it's a shame the buns they use at Franktuary really don't support the awesomeness that is the locavore frank.  It's funny, because during my second visit here I overheard another patron asking the staff about their buns, and their response was that because of space limitations they couldn't steam them in-house.  (Sorry to eavesdrop, but I was kinda right there!)  I really look forward to the day they find better buns because I really can't say enough good things about the locavore frank, and I think higher quality buns would complete the divine experience that is Franktuary.

Update (5/26/2011):  Franktuary responded to me via Twitter and said they have been trying out different bun suppliers and hope to find a fix soon.

Update (5/27/2011):  See Franktuary's blog post regarding their quest for the right bun.

Restaurant info:
325 Oliver Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
On the web:
Bonus: Free wifi 

Franktuary on Urbanspoon