My five year old daughter loves Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace. Whenever our family is looking for a place to eat in downtown Columbus she votes for Dirty Frank's. My wife heard about Dirty Frank’s from former co-workers and, after a visit to the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s downtown location, she took our daughter there for lunch. They both loved it and the next time we were all downtown they talked me into giving it a try.
If you are more than a little apprehensive about trying Dirty Frank’s it’s understandable. Dirty Frank’s is located at 248 South 4th Street between East Rich Street and East Main Street. From the restaurant, the Greyhound Terminal is one block north and Franklin University is a block east. While this isn’t the worst area in downtown Columbus, not even close, it’s not the first place one would normally think about when choosing where to take the family out for a meal. Because of the location parking can also be an issue and parking on South Fourth Street, or one of the nearby side streets is the best option. Don’t forget to bring change for the meters. There is a pay-first parking lot directly across the street. My family has not had any trouble finding a spot close to the front door but we’ve only gone on weekends or after the evening rush.
The last reason one might be apprehensive about trying Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace is that it’s a restaurant which features hot dogs. While it’s true some children have survived on a diet consisting only of hot dogs, applesauce and goldfish crackers most adults don’t order hot dogs when they dine out unless you include the ballpark, which I do not. After all, how much can you do with a hot dog? Dirty Frank’s proposes one can do quite a lot; their menu offers over 40 variations of ways to top a hot dog.
My daughter loves the Octodog, a hot dog cut in the shape of an octopus and served over Mac and Cheese. She orders it every time and never fails to clean her plate. My wife and I have chosen a different dog every time and haven’t been disappointed yet. Among some we have enjoyed, The Doginator, the Brisket and Slaw Dog and the Slappy Pappy’s Super Sloppy are solid choices. A favorite for both of us is the Cowgirl Carmen which is a hot dog topped with meat coney sauce, cheddar cheese and crushed fritos. If members of your party have special dietary needs, Dirty Frank’s provides vegetarian and vegan alternatives for many of their hot dog offerings as well as gluten free buns.
The hot dogs are not served with a side dish and we have discovered one order of tater tots or fries is more than enough for our family to share. The little one is typically full after the Octodog and Mac and Cheese leaving my wife and I to share the side dish, and one order is more than enough for us.
In addition to the dogs and sides, Dirty Frank’s offers a full bar with an impressive selection of beer and speciality drinks. If old school, poor college student beer is your preference one can choose from Schlitz, Old Style and PBR. Prefer to keep your beer local? Try the Pale Ale from Columbus Brewing Company, the Dortmunder Gold from Great Lakes or, just based on the name alone, the Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper Robust Porter from Akron, Ohio. This is also one of the few places around town that offers Red Pop and Grape Soda in addition to the usual assortment of soft drinks.
The interior is decorated in what can best be described as ‘80s hair metal chic with Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates and skater influenced accents to provide the proper balance. The decor has to be seen to be fully appreciated, and anyone alive during the 1980s will definitely appreciate the artwork.
Lastly, a word about the staff and service - excellent. On each and every visit we have been treated with prompt and courteous attention. The wait staff has always been respectful, friendly and willing to provide suggestions. They also serve the kids’ drinks in cups with a lid without needing to be asked which, as any parent will tell you, is very much appreciated.
The only negative about Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace is the limited seating. The dining room is very small and fills up quickly during the lunch and dinner rush. It is not uncommon to see a line going out the door and onto the sidewalk. However, this is usually not the case during off peak times so, with a little planning and preparation, this inconvenience can be avoided.
The next time you find yourself downtown with the family, skip the chain restaurants and give Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace a try.