I stay in the western Chicago suburb of Addison from time to time - especially when I can't get into my favorite hotel near O'Hare Airport. It turned out that I stayed a couple nights at a hotel along Lake Street in Addison on recent trip to Chicago. For years, I've been intrigued by a place along Lake Street near the hotel that is in a strip mall that faces the street called Franky's Red Hots. One rainy evening, I decided to stop in and give them a try. (see map)
Frank Espano is the Franky behind the name. The Franky's on Lake Street opened in 1989 specializing not only in Chicago-style hot dogs, but Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich, pizza, ribs and gyros. In April of 2014, Franky's opened a second location in St. Charles, IL along E. Main Street, about a half mile west of the Charlestowne Mall. (see map)
Franky's dining area is large, open and well-lit. It features booths as well as tables with chairs. It's nothing fancy, but it's comfortable enough. On a rainy night, there were a lot of people coming in to get "to-go" orders including a surprising number of pizzas that I saw go out the door.
You place your order at the counter and they'll call out your name when your order is ready. The menu board is above the counter and it's extensive enough that if you can't find something to eat at Franky's, you're probably not hungry. As I said, they're best known for their Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef, but in addition to pizza, gyros and ribs they also feature burgers, chicken sandwiches, pork chop sandwiches, chicken wings, Italian sausage sandwiches, chicken tenders, salads and pasta dishes.
I wanted to try both an Italian beef sandwich and a hot dog at Franky's. Their Italian beef sandwiches are 8" in length and come wrapped in aluminum foil. It came with a slice of mozzarella cheese on top. I made the rookie mistake at Franky's for not asking for spicy giardiniera peppers on my sandwich, but that was fine on this visit. The beef was very moist and juicy with a great Italian-beef taste. The hoagie bun was a bit chewy like it had been sitting in a warming bin a little too long, but it was still fine.
The hot dog came with the full complement of Chicago-style fixings - onion, green relish, mustard, tomato, dill pickle spear and the spicy sport peppers. It, too, was wrapped in aluminum foil making the bun a little chewy. The hot dog lacked the snap of a good Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dog, but it was still good for what it was.
For a place that has to go head-to-head with some more well-known Chicago Italian beef and hot dog places, Franky's does a fine job keeping up with the competition. They seem to have found their little niche in the western suburbs and continue to do what they do pretty well. The hot dog and the Italian beef sandwich were both good, not great, but good enough. I wouldn't have any qualms about going back to Franky's in the future.