“Duuuuuuuuude, it’s a real sausage fest in here,” I joked to my buddy Zeke as we sat down at Frank, a new restaurant on the corner of 4th and Colorado (where Starlite Diner used to be). Frank is one of the newest restaurants in downtown Austin. I’d describe it as a hot dog eatery and bar, except that it’s really more than that. There’s something in the vibe of Frank that’s very inviting and it’s a place you aren’t soon ready to leave once entering.
ANYWAY – after congratulating myself silently for the snappy pun, I surveyed the layout of the place. The restaurant is expansive and airy, with ample ceiling height and a roomy dining area with several small tables that are perfect for 2-4, or that can be easily pulled together for larger parties. There’s a large, open bar area right at the entrance, a good place to grab a beer while looking out the big windows facing Colorado Street. Behind the dining area and upstairs, there’s even more space. I was told by one of the owners, Jennifer Northcutt, that the owners of Frank will also be putting in an upstairs lounge and a specialty, high-end grocery concept in these other spaces within the next couple of months. There’s a lot of natural, polished and exposed wood on the walls and the floors are a simple and dark concrete, which combined with the openness of the space, do much to add to the comfortable, but slightly masculine atmosphere. There’s also a neat little (working) phone booth towards the front of the restaurant and a painted mural/beer advertisement on the dining area wall (above photo).
Here’s a pic from my table looking to the front of the restaurant/bar area:
- Frank Restaurant – Austin – Interior
But enough about the layout, “How is the food, I wonder,” I said to Zeke. We glanced at the menu, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some vegetarian options to eat. I hadn’t really expected much in the way of vegetarian food, and was going to only order a beer, so to see that there were veggie dogs, vegetarian chili, and some other sides that were vegetarian was a real bonus. The menu is pretty simple, but I wouldn’t say it’s completely basic. Jennifer, the owner, had explained to me that there was an actual chef in their kitchen, not just a line cook, and the variety of the menu illustrated that to an extent. There were “artisan sausages” listed, and things like the Jackelope, which is an antelpope and rabbit sausage with huckleberry compote, sriracha aioli, and applewood smoked cheddar. Granted, the menu pretty much only consists of hot dogs, fries, and beer, but I have to say the specificity doesn’t turn me off one bit. Pick what you do and do it well. I ordered a veggie dog with slaw and my friend Zeke had the Jackelope and we shared a side of corn and fries and were just as happy as can be. The place also offers a full bar and fairly extensive beer selection, and I can see myself just poppin’ in for a drink without wanting a meal from time to time.
All in all, I’d have to recommend trying it out. The food is good, but not fancy, and the atmosphere is chill and casual. High-end quality food without being high-falutin’. This business is also owned by locals who are invested in the downtown community and who try to use local vendors whenever possible.
This isn’t the place to go and get healthy, but it is the place to go for a quick and satisfying lunch or to chill with a few friends after work. Do it.
www.hotdogsandcoldbeer.com, 407 Colorado Street, 78701