Fourth of July means firing up the grill for all-American hot dogs and burgers, but those classic foods are favorites all year round at Frank’s Famous Hot Dogs in San Luis Obispo.
Frank’s got its start in 1977 at the corner of Broad and Chorro Streets, but the red-and-white building has been a local landmark at California Boulevard and Monterey Street since 1988. Throughout its existence, the restaurant has enjoyed relatively constant ownership. One of the original three founders operated it with his family from 1979 until Toney Breault took over in 2007, but that move brought very little change.
“We just want to carry on the tradition and carry on the standards that were already set,” said general manager Jimmy Graton. “It’s already such a great concept that’s so ingrained in San Luis Obispo, so we haven’t taken anything off the menu. We’re just doing some more specials, and have added some lighter items like turkey burgers, chicken wraps and some salads.”
The essential Frank’s concept is simple and straightforward: a classic, no-frills neighborhood joint serving burgers, dogs and shakes. Order at the counter, then settle into one of the booths along the row of windows, or grab a seat at a handful of tables outside.
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The casual neighborhood vibe means that Frank’s clientele is wideranging, but many are “longtime regulars that have become just like family,” said Graton. “We know most of them by name, which makes it fun.”
Typically, Frank’s serves up about 3,000 pounds of its “Famous Hot Dogs” a month. The dozen or so options range from the basic Frank Dog to the Chicago Dog (albeit with regular relish instead of the traditional neon green relish), and the Baja Dog — a wiener that’s wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, then topped with Jack cheese, salsa and jalapeño bottle caps.
Another big seller on the menu is the breakfast burrito, and Frank’s has been known to wrap up 500 in a single weekend. Served all day, these whopping creations consist of two eggs (scrambled unless you prefer them another way), two pieces of bacon, cheddar cheese, home fries, tomato, onion, mayo and salsa.
However, as popular as the hot dogs and burritos may be, many of Frank’s patrons think the burgers are really the cat’s meow. As Graton explained, the patties are hand-formed daily from ground beef that’s delivered fresh six days a week. You can order a regular burger or any one of about 10 other choices, and heartier appetites regularly sink their canines into the aptly named Monster Burger.
In addition to the handmade patties, the Ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, salsa and chile verde are made in-house, and the Frank’s crew also preps other items such as the onion rings and fried zucchini fresh every day.
“Things like that give us a lot more ownership over what we do rather than just pouring something out of a can, and it also gives us a better product,” Graton said. “We also prefer to buy locally when we can — tomatoes from a local grower, ground beef from a local supplier, and some of the buns locally as well. We’re really big on being part of the community.”