Frank

Hot Dog outpost on “The Drag” at the University of Texas. Great spot for drunk eats. Intimidating for the sober.

Frank
The Drag - Austin, TX
$
★★☆☆☆

 The onion rings on top remind me of a tandem rotor helicopter. (I went down a rabbit hole of reading about helicopter mechanics after writing this comment. Lost for hours.)

The onion rings on top remind me of a tandem rotor helicopter. (I went down a rabbit hole of reading about helicopter mechanics after writing this comment. Lost for hours.)

Is there any food more iconic of summer than the hot dog? Well, probably, but I was on a hot dog kick for a while last year, so when I was craving lunch in Austin I thought I’d see what they had in the hot dog department. If I were doing a more scientific study I would have gone for the most simple hot dog at each joint in order to make a fair comparison. Unfortunately, my highest priority when searching for food is trying something new, something I can only get at the particular place I am. In this case, that equated to a beast of a hot dog that screams Texas: the “Drag Dog”, so named for this dog hut’s location on “The Drag”, a string of shops on Guadalupe Street within the University of Texas. What’s on it?

Brisket.

BBQ Sauce.

A locally made, smoked hotdog.

Pickles & Onions.

It was super intense, over the top, even. Especially for someone who’s always trying to eat a little healthier. But when I’m out I crave adventure, and this dog certainly has it. But my favorite thing about it? The house-made bun, reminiscent for me of a northeastern lobster roll.

 The Drag Dog: Local-made smoked beef dog with chopped brisket, Texas BBQ sauce, pickle, and onion on a custom-made Frank bun.

The Drag Dog: Local-made smoked beef dog with chopped brisket, Texas BBQ sauce, pickle, and onion on a custom-made Frank bun.

The manager of Frank noticed me taking photos of my hot dog and came over to ask if I was with Grubhub or something like that. Wait, was I? No, just up to my normal antics of snapping my food. Then I offered to take some photos of whatever dish she’d like, so she sent out something I really wasn’t expecting.

 Reuben Fries: Waffle fries with melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, corned beef, and Thousand Island dressing.

Reuben Fries: Waffle fries with melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, corned beef, and Thousand Island dressing.

I hadn’t even noticed the section of the menu with waffle fries, so when I first saw this I was bewildered. I could hardly tell what it was. I also thought “Is this the most photogenic item on the menu?”

But I shrugged and tried to find a good spot to take some photos of it anyway. I’d already used the cool distressed table as the backdrop for the hotdog, so I wandered around the lot to find other good backgrounds for this texan poutine sorta thing. I liked the rocks and succulents in this planter, which bring some different colors to the image and also give it a little bit of context. With food photos, I’m always looking for something to place the food in the environment, so it not only says “here’s some food” but also “here’s some food and a little atmosphere that you’ll feel when you’re there.” Because going to a restaurant is never just about the food. There’s a whole experience wrapped up in there, and that’s something I like to convey with my images.

Meanwhile, Heather decided she was hungry enough to order something and went for this veggie dog.

 Veggie dog with sauerkraut

Veggie dog with sauerkraut

After we ate, we wandered around the lot a bit more and Heather took a few pictures of me on her AE-1, and we also came across this cool looking door. I never saw the photo she took of it, but I’m sure it’s an exciting world of textures in black & white.

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Thoughts on Frank

There are some creative items on the menu that I hadn’t seen anywhere before, but none of the flavors really changed my life. The food is very heavy and hearty, so I suspect it would make very good drunk grub. And given this outpost’s location on a college campus, I’m sure there’s plenty of need for that.

About the images

The location was kind of interesting, in this communal yard called “Space 24 Twenty” that seems to be host to different events, and it nestled between Frank and an Urban Outfitters. Like most of my early days in Austin, it was very overcast and I wasn’t feeling very inspired by the dull light in the lot. I also wasn’t seeing much that really jumped out at me as exciting to photograph. But I’d set the intention of making some food images here, so I wandered around and looked for interesting things to take photos of anyway. I didn’t end up with anything portfolio worthy, but I do really enjoy this image of the chipped paint on the table, which has the potential to be a nice abstract print. So there’s a lesson there in always pushing yourself to make images. You can’t love an image that you refused to take because you were being pouty about not having the light you want.

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