Chicago Dog Hits IC


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There's a new establishment in downtown Iowa City, and it's not a new gift shop or clothing store. And lucky for many of you, this venue isn't more than a stone's throw away from your favorite downtown hot spots.

Operating under the name Swankie Frankie, the staff members certainly dress the part: vests, ties, and white dress shirts — talk about swank.

And there's a word you haven't heard in a decade. Add some bonus points for being unique, something Iowa City is in desperate need of.

Although currently not staying open past bar close, mostly because of how new it is, this place will soon be another late-night venue for those of you who need fuel after last call.

For people like me, unfamiliar with Chicagoan customs, you aren't supposed to eat ketchup on a hot dog. A crime punishable by shunning and ridicule.

Oops, good thing they help newbies like me and serve their plates without ketchup by default.

In case you didn't know, the staff has hung a big sign with an "NK-17" rating label for their dogs — no ketchup unless under the age of 17. What are 17-year-olds doing on the Pedestrian Mall anyway?
Obviously, the staff members won't refuse you, but you may get funny looks from your Illinois-based friends.

Either way, I doubt you will be disappointed.

The names of the hot dogs reflect the influence of the flavors, among the Bogart, the Dean Martin, and the Sammy Davis Jr., I imagine this may be the little piece of home that Bears and Blackhawks fans need until they get winter break.

Quite the view the place has as well, a front-row seat to the show that is Iowa City on the weekends. The stool seating curves around with the building, but no matter where you sit, front and center is the heart of the mall.

On to the food.

I ordered the Swankie, a one-third-pound spicy Polish sausage with spicy mustard, grilled onions, and sport peppers.

I don't know what a sport pepper is, but hot darn, it's got a kick to it. Not as wild as a jalapeño, but reminds me of a spicy banana pepper.

The kick comes with spicy mustard to add a little more piquancy to your palate.

The onions, meh, I honestly could do without. But I'm sure it would upset a number of people to take them off.

Apparently Vienna beef is a big thing for the target market, and I don't have any complaints about it. It's a solid tasting, quality beef.

Make sure you order a drink if you go with the "Swankie"; the heat builds and builds.

Swankie Frankie has a little more to offer than the carts outside. It reminds me of a young and starting Portillo's, and I know how crazy people are for that.

Now I just have to figure out what a sport pepper is.

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