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No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hank's Frank's, Lodi, NJ

Hank's Franks on Urbanspoon
What: Hot Dogs 
Builds: Assorted Toppings
Comment: I haven't been to Hank's Frank's in about 28 years and I passed by the other day while driving through Lodi, NJ and decided to treat myself... I'm happy to report the place hasn't changed one bit. Simply put, Hank's is "the quintessential hot dog". It is the hot dog we all know and love, the one that comes to mind when we think of the best hot dog we've ever eaten... it's the one hot dog that burns a scar on the "taste bud" side of your brain which is most closely linked to your memory. Now I know I've just given Hank's a pretty heavy endorsement (rightfully so) but don't get me wrong, I don't want you to go running off to Hank's thinking you'll be trying something "new"... on the contrary, you'll be stepping back in time. That's what makes this place so appealing and the dogs so darn good. The flavors are all from 50+ years ago, plain and simple yet full of flavor. The Sabrett dogs are cooked to perfection - what's that you say? How can you screw up a boiled dog? Very easily. Ever see a dog lying in the pot too long? It turns gray because the food dyes have leached out along with the fat, leaving you with a tasteless wet meat product (gross). Cooking a boiled dog to a perfect "snap" is nothing less than an art form and the folks at Hank's are true artisans of the tube steak. The Sabrett's are small, I'm guessing 10-to-a-pound size or in that area. They are small, but not too small. They fit snugly in their buns with lots of room for toppings, (and Hank's has got the mother load of toppings). You can get just about everything from potatoes, to chili, kraut, 2 types of onions, etc. I remember the peanut butter and jelly dog from my school years also. Years ago while in school, I'd stop at Hank's almost every day for lunch and take advantage of the "buy 8 get one free" offer. (Yes, 9 dogs for lunch - everyday).  Now let's remember, this is New Jersey and the hot dog competition is fierce. You have heavy hitters such as: The Hot Grille, The Belmont Grill, The Goffle Grill, Marci's Dog House, Jerry's Famous Frankfurters, Rutt's Hut, Dickey Dee's, Manny's Texas Wiener, Jimmy Buff's, Johnny & Hanges, Hirams, Galloping Hill Inn, The Garage, Papaya King, Rahway Grill, Callahans, Hot Dog Johnny's - the list is endless and so are the styles and toppings. Even the cooking methods vary greatly, you have: boiled, fried, pan-fried, deep-fried, griddled, grilled, roller-grilled and sauteed. So you tell me, how do you compare Hot Dog joints? Answer: the same way you compare burger joints - you order your personal favorite and go from there. What ever the cooking method, look for how well it was prepared, freshness, doneness etc, etc.  So, if you're a die-hard Rutt's Hut guy (like my father-in-law is) you like deep-fried dogs, which means you're not going to like Hank's Frank's quite as much because the dogs are cooked completely differently. And this is why I can never answer the question: What's the best burger (or hot dog) joint you've ever been to? Comparing burger joints is easy when the food is prepared very similarly, but some are just so different it's not fair to make that comparison. Nuff said. Try Hank's Frank's, you won't be disappointed.  10/10
PS, These photos are not mine, they are courtesy of the Internet - I'll add better photos to this blog the next time I'm at Hank's.

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