When he first considered opening his own hot dog establishment, Tristan Gittens says one piece of advice he received was to limit the selection of sausages. Keep it simple, they told him.
Gittens thought otherwise and opened Frankinbun.
“Finding a hot dog restaurant that has a large selection of European and American sausages isn’t easy, so I wanted to open one,” says Gittens, who opened the Palm Springs shop in 2016. “I felt that the mission of Frankinbun is to introduce as much interesting and exotic food as possible.”
• See related story: 8 Places to Taste Great Barbecue
Indeed, the choices at Frankinbun are off the charts. The menu features items like the Linguica, a Portuguese smoke-cured pork sausage with hints of garlic and paprika, or Chicken and Waffle on a Stick, with two Bavarian apple-cinnamon sausages covered in a Belgian waffle and served with maple syrup.
Offering sides like chili cheese fries or the Tornado Potato, a spiral-cut fried potato on a stick with a choice of toppings including sour cream and onion or Creole and truffle salt, Frankinbun’s menu satisfies those all-American comfort-food cravings in a way you’d expect only Palm Springs can. Even the Chinoiserie-style wallpaper adorning its walls is an original design (and the perfect backdrop to snap that #lunchspot photo for Instagram) by Gittens’ wife, Candice Held, who owns clothing boutiques in Palm Springs and Palm Desert.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANKINBUN
The Frankinbun chili dog with a side of German potato salad (no mayo), a pickle spear and “live”sauerkraut, which is naturally fermented for 25 days and never canned to keep all its vitamins and probiotics.
“I designed the Frankinbun wallpaper to have a classic Palm Springs feel,” she says. “I wanted to design something that was beautiful and also fun for customers to look at while waiting for their fabulous gourmet sausage, which is cooked to order. The Frankinbun mascot appears in different scenes in the wallpaper, but you have to study it to find all his different poses.”
Adds Tristan, “To me, all the parts add up to make Frankinbun unique. The wallpaper, the unusual dishes, the use of gourmet ingredients in a hot dog shop, or the detailed effort that goes into making our food.”
Note: Frankinbun is on summer break and will reopen Aug. 17.
Frankinbun, 540 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-318-4841; frankinbun.com
Manhattan in the Desert
The delicatessen serves no less than eight different types of hot dogs and, here, it’s all about amping up a traditional hot dog with choice ingredients and toppings.
“What makes our hot dogs unique is our commitment to only the finest quality ingredients. Whether it’s the classics, or the custom creations, we start with only the finest National Deli all-beef hot dogs, cheeses, and produce. We buy our pickles and our sauerkraut from a company that produces only those two products and has been doing it for over 50 years,” says owner Jamie Pinto. “Oh, and not to mention, the portions are huge.”
Savor a foot-long Manhattan chili cheese dog served on a French roll with a side of chopped onions. The South Philly dog mirrors a Philly cheese steak with onions, peppers, and provolone cheese.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the Chicago Dog,” Pinto adds. “But, truthfully, they are all amazing. If I were to recommend one to a customer, I would likely recommend the Brooklyn Pastrami Dog. Anything made with our famous pastrami is a sure thing.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF MANHATTAN IN THE DESERT
Manhattan in the Desert presents the South Philly dog topped with grilled onions, peppers, and Philly steak with provolone cheese.
Manhattan in the Desert, 74225 Highway 111. Palm Desert. 760-340-1304; or
2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-3354; manhattaninthedesert.com
When Shakira sang, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” — the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup — chances are she wasn’t thinking about hot dogs. But Tony Cuevas was.
While working for a Palm Springs restaurant, Cuevas catered a party for the pop singer.
Shakira liked the food so much, Cuevas went on to cater two more of her parties and they became friends.
When he opened Tony’s Burgers, he thought about Shakira’s song and how much it sounded like “Guaca Guaca.” The result is a hot dog called the Shakira Guaca Guaca with fresh, homemade guacamole, pepper jack cheese, chopped onion, and jalapeños.
Tony’s Chihuahua Dog also came from less-than-traditional roots.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RAKUNN DESIGNS
Dedicated to singer/songwriter Shakira is the Shakira Guaca Guaca dog with fresh, homemade guacamole, sliced jalapeño peppers, chopped onions and pepper jack cheese.
“Tony noticed a lot of big guys coming to the restaurant wanting something big and filling,” explains his son, José Cuevas, the restaurant’s manager. The Chihuahua Dog includes chopped crispy bacon, homemade all-meat chili, cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, and sweet relish. “It’s a big messy-but-delicious dog!”
Tony’s Burgers, 35903 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City. 760-832-7794; tonysburgers.com
The Lunch Box
Tucked away in an industrial area of Palm Desert, The Lunch Box is an unassuming sit-down café that serves up well-priced classic sandwiches and salads (think French dips, potato salads, chili, and Caesar salad). Owner Kari Kniegge, whose enthusiastic smile and blue-and-purple hair contribute to the eatery’s laidback, funky aesthetic, always imagined she’d someday run a casual sit-down spot like this.
“The inspiration for the shop was my growing up and working in our family’s sandwich shop in North San Diego County,” she says, “which my mom owned for 25 years.”
One of the customer favorites? The Lunchbox Wiener, a steamed all-beef kosher dog. “The hot dog has been on the menu since day one,” says Kniegge. “We offer a quarter-pound dog with the option to ‘load it up’ with chili, cheese, and diced onions … and it’s a hit!”
The Lunch Box, 74868 Joni Drive, Palm Desert. 760-610-1136; thelunchboxpd.com
PHOTO BY KAREN GRANINGER
Delicious red onions, cheddar cheese, and chili top this quarter-pound hot dog at The Lunchbox in Palm Desert.
“Hot dogs were always on the menu!” declares Donna Fleckenstein, manager of the Palm Desert restaurant known for its loaded burgers. “Rick, the original owner was all about food and gourmet. He wrote the menu. And now the new owners, Farouk and Salima Nurani, have taken everything good that Rick did and made it better.”
The menu includes 15 hot dogs, all cleverly named like their patty counterparts, such as the Junk Yard Dog, which comes with bacon, all-meat chili, cheddar cheese, tomato, onion, and sweet relish. The Dog in Heat is particularly spicy with diced red onion, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and spicy mustard. For those who prefer a more traditional chili dog, the Dog Pile is a safe bet, topped with all-meat chili, coleslaw, chopped onion, and mustard.
“My favorite dogs are the Cincinnati and the Reuben,” says Fleckenstein, but she’d recommend them all. “Everything is made from scratch.”
And, like the hot dogs, there is no mistaking Donna when you walk into the place. “I’ve been with Grill-A-Burger since 2005,” she says. “When I work, it’s my social hour. I’m originally from New York. A few of my customers come in and tell me they love it because I yell at them just like their wife does!”
PHOTO COURTESY OF GRILL-A-BURGER
Grill-A-Burger’s Carolina dog includes all-meat chili, coleslaw, chopped onion and mustard.