In Phoenix, Arizona, it’s hard to find things that fall into the realm of Oktoberfest, but one of those wonderfully German things are bratwursts. Here in the Valley, we have one truck that specializes in all things hot dog – Frank’s Food Truck: Urban Hot Dogs & Sausages.
I had a chance to meet with Adam today, owner of Frank’s Food Truck, before trying his wonderful offerings. Adam hails from Philly, but has been living in the Valley for over twenty-one years now. Before starting Frank’s Food Truck, he was a restaurant chef, and while traveling to Seattle one day he saw a gathering of trucks that intrigued him. The idea for his food truck was born. He started testing his ideas out on a hot dog cart first, mainly for special events, and eventually building up to a food truck. When asked why hot dogs, he said that he really likes the idea that you can top a hot dog with just about anything your imagination can create – and there were already too many burger trucks.
For the last year, he has been serving up gourmet hot dogs and sausages with locally-sourced ingredients: local bread (such as Brioche and Pretzel), local meats from Schreiner’s Fine Sausage, and toppings from local sources like Argritopia Farm in Gilbert and Queen Creek Olive Mill. The farm-to-table idea is something that Frank really believes in, and it shows in the sustainable materials comprise his creations.
Before I tried my hand at Frank’s Food Truck, I asked Adam what his personal favorite was from his truck, and he said the Weekly Specials, because they really lend themselves to his imagination and goal of putting anything on a hot dog.
The way that Frank’s Food Truck works is this – first, you designate your dog (Natural All Beef Hot Dog, Smoked Polish Sausage, Bratwurst, Chicken Apple Sausage, or Vegetarian Dog). Second, you establish what kind of bun you would like (Broiche, Pretzel, or Gluten Free). Third, you pick from the menu, or get creative yourself and call your own.
I finally placed my order, and decided to try two of the things straight off his menu, to get a sampling of what is typically ordered off his truck. I ordered the 3AM and the Elotes Locos, pictured below, both as Brats. The 3AM comes wrapped in a Grilled Cheese sandwich, so you cannot pick your bread, but the Elotes Locos I got in a Brioche bun.
The Elotes Locos is grilled corn, pickled fresno peppers, cilantro-lime aioli, cotija cheese, avocado, and chili powder. This is the one that I tried first, and it was very delicious. The bun was incredibly soft and cuddled the brat nicely, while the bratwurst itself had a fantastic flavor that was not too greasy, as some brats can be. The topping list gave me a little worry that some of it was going to be overpowering, but it was a very mild flavor, and you could taste everything meshing together beautifully. This was definitely my favorite of the two today.
The 3AM is bacon, Funyuns, habanero ketchup, and candied jalapenos, all wrapped in a grilled cheese. While also delicious, I did not like it nearly as much as the Elotes Locos. The grilled cheese made it a little harder to hold, and therefore eat, but it was a very fun and interesting combination of ingredients. In this option, sweet and spicy dominate with the candied jalapenos, with some hints of the bacon and bratwurst in the background. If you love spicy, this is definitely the way to go. It’s not heat for the sake of heat, but heat with some sweet flavor in the background that lends itself to a great taste that is not too overbearing.
Before I left, I asked Adam what some of his favorite trucks were here in the Valley, and he said that he is a fan of Saffron JAK, The Roasted Shallot, and The Uprooted Kitchen. He also offered up this advice to future food truck owners.
Owning a food truck has been a grand journey, so much so that he is opening his second truck soon, but it is so incredibly different from working in the kitchen that he was used to. He says he spends most of his time doing public relations and e-mails, and working sixteen-hour days for six days a week; however, he says that if you are incredibly passionate about your food, it is all very worth it and he loves what he does. It is definitely shows in his creations, and I will be seeing him again next time he is in my part of the Valley.
-Phoenix Area Guest Contributor, Emily Campion