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