Jack's Frank & Fries
Jack's Frank & Fries is a new hot dog restaurant that's been open a little over a week. They haven't had a Grand Opening yet and are still in their "soft opening" stage. Located in a small strip mall on Rt. 22 West in Union behind the Sprint store, Jack's is a small clean restaurant with some stools and a counter for eating in.
I stopped in yesterday and sampled their hot dogs, hot dog chili, regular chili (with beans) and two types of cole slaw; creamy and vinegary. The chili and coleslaw are homemade. For me the hot dogs are what I come for first and foremost. Everything else is secondary, but certainly adds to or detracts from the experience.
The dogs are natural casing Sabrett all beef, 8/1. They are prepared 2 ways. Steamed or on a flat top griddle. The steamed dogs are actually steamed in a special compartment, not heated in hot water with the top covered which is what many consider steamed. I had my dogs grilled on the flat top. They were done just right and put on potato buns from Stroehmann's which made for a good frank to bun ratio. A Martin's roll would have been too big for this particular dog. I sampled 3 mustards which they are currently experimenting with. Admiration deli mustard, Gold's deli mustard, and Gold's dusseldorf. All 3 are great, but I prefer Admiration for a spicy beef dog.
The natural casing Sabrett's here are on the same level as the best places in New Jersey and New York that serve them. Namely Papaya King, Gray's, Katz's, Dover Grill, and Boulevard Drinks. I prefer the dogs here to the Papaya places and Boulevard Drinks because the frank is a better size. BVoulevard Drinks uses a tiny 12/1 frank. Papaya King claims a 10/1, though to my eye it appears smaller. I've heard that they use franks that are anywhere from 12 to 10 to a lb. At 8/1, Jack's is a good size. Katz's deli in NYC uses a 7/1. But they charge close to $4.00 for it. Jack's is much closer to me and more affordable, charging more than a dollar less than Katz's, but using the same recipe natural casing frank and preparing them in smaller quantitites. Jack's is now my favorite place to get a grilled Sabrett natural casing dog. From talking with the owner I am confident that they will maintain consistency. It's always a good sign when the owner is there serving you your hot dog.
I had one dog with mustard and one with mustard and chili. The chili here is very good. Thick as opposed to the thin Passaic/Clifton area Texas Weiner sauce, it had a hint of chocolate and is very similar to the chili served at Amazing Hot Dog. Highly recommended. The regular chili had beans and was much thicker. It too was good and had a good amount of heat. I preferred the hot dog chili.
The homemade coleslaws were tasty and fresh. The vinegar coleslaw was very crunchy (maybe too much so) and the creamy coleslaw had a little bit of mustard and is patterned after Primanti's in Pittsburgh. Eric, who owns Jack's with his wife Linda, is from Pittsburgh. I would definitely order the creamy coleslaw when I return.
Jack's offers traditional toppings along with a lot of untraditional ones such as sambal and cream cheese that I believe are a waste and do not belong on a quality frankfurter. To me they serve to mask rather than complement the actual frankfurter which should be what is focused on. Same criticism I had of Amazing Hot Dog except that Jack's dogs were served piping hot while Amazing often served theirs cool or even cold. But I do realize that many people like and seek out such toppings. I'll stick to mustard and maybe chili.
Jack's serves a great hot dog. It is prepared well, which too many places today get wrong. I will definitely be back and am strongly considering adding them to the 8th Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour.
600 Getty Ave, Clifton, NJ 07011
51 S Orange Ave, South Orange, NJ 07079
US Highway 46 Depew Ave N, Dover, NJ 07801
48 Journal Sq, Jersey City, NJ 07306
Great review, John. Lots of good information. I'll have to stop there next time I'm on Rte 22.
Nathan's/Yonkers is still #1 for me, though. They have a unique saute onion condiment there, and a great sauerkraut as well. Are those 6/1, John? (They cost $3, but there is usually a coupon for a 2nd hot dog free, or 5 cents).
I bring up Amazing Hot Dog only as a point of comparison since so many people who love hot dogs are/were familiar with them. I think my comments are fair. I don't only criticize (or slam as you say), I also compliment Amazing Hot Dogs on their fries and chili. Jack's chili is similar to what was served at Amazing. The comment above was meant to be a compliment. When reviewing The Garage in Millburn I mentioned that the fries there were one of the best I've had along with Amazing Hot Dog and Syd's. However I stand by my comments that the thick dogs at Amazing weren't served hot enough many times. They did fix the problem eventually. And it is my opinion that sambal and cream cheese ruin a perfectly good hot dog. So if that is slamming a place, then so be it. I guess I just slammed Jack's.
I did want Amazing Hot Dog to succeed. After the Verona location closed, Matt kept Bound Brook open and tried to make a go of it but eventually had to close. He did make positive changes including improving preparation. I went a few times; once with John Sagi of the Gourmet Chili Dog and a few other people. We posted about our lunch and how much we enjoyed it. I promised Matt that Amazing Hot Dog would be included on the next New Jersey Hot Dog Tour I would never include a place that I did not personally like. Unfortunately Amazing Hot Dog closed before then.
hi hotdoglover, John,
When I finally tried Amazing Hot Dog a few years or so back, in Verona, I remember being very UNDERwhelmed. I thought the hot dog had no flavor.
And when I told you my opinion, you said that's cuz they had just changed the type of dog they were using..
I look forward to trying Jack's asap. Any chance we can squeeze it into our NJ Hot Dog Tour in Sept.??? That is , if they can accommodate 2 busloads of hot dog lovers, lol !!!
gr8 to hear ! It's about time our NJ Hot Dog Tour got the Press Coverage it DESERVES !!! Sad to say, I was not personally happy with the coverage that the Star Ledger Newspaper did last year .
It was great to meet Pete Genovese , and I enjoyed his company on our hot dog tour, but wish he gave U, as well as our gr8 tour organizer, Benzee, more recognition..
Plus, the Star Ledger gave us such a TINY bottom corner of that "Today" section, while a Newark "paint artist" lady took up almost the whole page !!
(including that tall , unique hat she was wearing)
I looked on the website for Jack's, and their big claim to fame is the fact that U gave it real good reviews ! That's pretty much their whole website right now, besides a job application, so that's great testimant to your credilibity , John ...
Hotdoglover, I have a chili question. When I was growing up for many years in the 60's - 70's there was a hotdog truck on the far NE corner of Rt 1&9, and North Ave in Elizabeth, it's been gone many years. They served a chili that was finely ground, no beans, spiced with the chocolatey flavor you describe above with a hint of perhaps cardoman, (which back then might have been too exotic and really not in it, but trying to recall it in my memory that's what I come up with). Anyway, I've been looking for a chili like that forever. Does anything like that ring a bell? Thanks.
re: michele cindy
I've never been to the truck you described but the chili at Jack's fits the description. It is what I would consider finely ground, but thick in comparison to the thinner Passaic/Clifton area chili sauce. Majestic Lunch on Elizabeth Ave. near Broad is similar, although I think I may have heard that they are out of business. I'll have to check next time I go to Jerry's Famous Frankfurters.
1133 Elizabeth Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07201