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Sep 19, 2006 02:16 AM

Fred's Franks is ON

I've had decent hotdogs at Fred's Franks in Wakefield (just north of the lake, by the rotary) but I had a dog there that would give Speed's a run for his money. Probably the same basic hotdog Speed uses, a 1/4 pound Pearl dog, I believe. Grilled on a Big Green Egg to perfection, snapy, juicy and with a bit of char in the outside. However, I don't really care for the way the condiments are set up, where you put the condiments on the bun and they stick the dog on top. I don't think the flavors meld right that way, and plus the cold sauerkraut (blech) stays cold because it doesn't really come in contact with the hotdog that much. I'm not sure if they have it set up that way for health regulations or just because it moves lines along better but next time I'd skip the cold kraut and see if I can put my mustard on top when it's done. I wish they'd grill the bun a bit too. But it's worth a trip if you're in the area around lunchtime and hankering for what I'd say is probably the second best hotdog in the Boston area.

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    1. re: Joanie

      Yes, according to most online reviews.

      1. re: Dax

        I can never tell how big it is under the mess of stuff on top :-). But you're probably right, it does take an awful long time to eat. I thought I'd read somewhere he uses Pearl, but maybe not.

        1. re: Chris VR

          It is a Pearl dog, and I'm pretty sure it was a 1/2 pounder both before and after the fire. I gotta disagree with beetlebug that there's any real difference between the pre-fire dog and the post-fire dog as far as grimy grills go.

          The only negative thing I've ever noticed is that his fire is sometimes a little too hot now, or the dog is too close to the fire, so it finishes a little too fast and doesn't have quite enough time to suck in the smokey goodness. But this is a minor and occasional problem -- the last one I had there was perfect.

          1. re: MichaelB

            I would almost swear that he used to do a 1/4 dog. I used to finish one with no problem. It was the perfect hot dog size for me. The last few times I went with the 1/2 lb. I had a hard time finishing the whole thing.

            I'll have to go back soon for another hot dog comparison.

            My latest favorite hot dog is the one at Formaggio (Cambridge) on Saturdays. Sometimes there is this extra hot bbq sauce that I slather on the bun and dog. The condiments there are also great - homemade relishes, pickled peppers and onions, and spicy mustards.

      2. re: Joanie

        Before the fire, Speed's did use a 1/4 lb Pearl dog. It's now a 1/2 lb. Pearl Dog. I think Speed's is the best hot dog in Boston, but Frank's is a close second. It's fascinating to watch both men with their respective grills and methods.

        I do think Speed's was better pre-fire. All the years of smoke and grime enhanced the flavor of the 1/4 lb dog. The 1/2 lb is a little too much for me. And, the grill and pans don't have the same effect. They are too clean or something.

      3. Speed uses a hot dog made by Shofar or did anyway for a very long time. I haven't been to the most overrated hot dog cart in a long time so I can't verify current usage. It used to be a 6 or 8 ounce Shofar dog. At least his condiments were good.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Wursthof

          Hmm, a big dis to Speed's, eh? What do you consider to be a worthy hot dog place, if any?

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Yeah, I guess it was a bit of a dis. Personally I don't even consider it a hot dog cart because of the size of the "sausage" he serves. I definitely do not enjoy the strong taste of the pearl hot dogs that I have had at other times.(not Speed's). But I did give props to the condiments.

            Hot dogs don't get the attention they deserve around here. Far better options in CT, RI, NJ, NY but I guess that is a discussion for another board.

            My recs for around here.
            Boston: NONE, ZERO, NADA, don't even get me started on Spikes.
            Norwood: Lewis' has a locally made(Walpole I think) "german frank" that is grilled or griddled(your choice) on a nicely griddled bun. My only gripe here is if you want diced onions they take one of the sliced red onions and chop it up. Better than most of the abomination of onions I have seen but still not quite right. Condiments are limited also. Keep it simple. Griddled dog, Griddled Bun, Mustard, Onions.

            Rockport: Top Dog. You get a choice of griddled or steamed dog. Same with the bun. Some decent condiments. A worthy place if you are in the area.

            Boylston(I think it is Boylston) Intersection of Rte 12/140. There is a truck, Bobs. A small steamed local brand(mass produced)I forgot the name. Good dog, perfectly steamed bun, an excellent chili(which is basically ground beef and slightly hot relish) mustard and onions. The only drawback are the poorly mangled onions. (If people only took the time with that so important ingredient). He also has celery salt. Pretty good deal. Two dogs, a polar can of soda and bag of Wachusett chips for around $5. I was there a few weeks ago and can't remember the exact price. But for the value conscious a great choice.

            Karl's sausage kitchen makes some of the best franks around in my opinion. You have to cook those yourself, but at least you can make them the way you want. I've got hot dog issues.

            I have stopped at some of the newer "new age" hot dog places I have seen pop up. Most of the time I take a bite and throw the rest away. Very sad.

            I'm open to suggestions.

              1. re: Chris VR

                I have not. Perhaps if I am in Wakefield I will. His website says he uses Pearl. That in itself will not get me to run right there. Cold sauerkraut is another turnoff.

              2. re: Wursthof

                Wow, great list, interesting suggestions. I totally agree about Spike's -- they seem to be all about the bun and the toppings. Regarding Speed and his Pearl dogs, I think one of the reasons I like them so much is his long cooking process -- first simmering for a while, *then* grilling to create some char. I think that moderates some of that strong Pearl dog flavor that you note and adds complexity. And then with the basting on the grill and the condiments, well, I guess to me it's a perfect balance of salty, meaty, smoky and sweet. Different hounds, different dogs, different tastes!

          2. I think this may clear up some confusion about the size of the dogs... Fred uses Pearl dogs, your choice of 1/4 or 1/2 pound. Speed used Shofar 1/2 pound before the fire. After the fire, he returned using Pearl 1/4 pound dogs, but eventually relented to many requests and now uses 1/2 pound Pearl dogs.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Win

              Can anyone explain why Speed would change dogs after the fire? I've never understood that part of the lore.

              1. re: yumyum

                I'm a Chicago transplant - I'm a complete dog freak and nothing here has come close to fulfilling my fix. Please please PLEASE help me. Spikes is, well, Spikes. I've yet to have a Speed dog, but I need an honest to goodness, Hot Dog. Nothing doctored, flavored, messed with or otherwise removed from the simple wonderful purity of a good dog.

                1. re: chefaa

                  I would second the rec above: go to Karl's Sausage Kitchen on Rt 1 northbound in Saugus and buy their fabulous handmade franks. Then make'em how you like'em.

                  (There are other goodies there too, all made on the premises. The bratwurst (referred to but not labelled as white bratwurst) and the rostbratwurst are two of my favorites.)

                  1. re: chefaa

                    I'm so NOT a dog afficianado... I like Speed's very much but it's not exactly "not doctored". I enjoyed my one trip to Spike's -- some hounds will disagree -- but for what it is it's fine. I agree with Gretchen ... get a good quality dog and do it at home. I've been simmering a lot of brats in beer lately.

              2. Do I dare mention The Butcher Shop's $14 hot dog at this juncture?