Fricano's is an offbeat deli and neighborhood hangout in a strip mall near the University of Texas in Austin. It's a laidback place plastered with artwork and hand-written menus, run by a dedicated group of friends that have taken the business from hidden gem to one of the city's favorite sandwich spots since opening in 2006.
They're known for their awesome quasi New York deli-style sandwiches with some Italian and modern twists thrown in the mix: meatball sandwiches, pastrami cheesesteaks, the grilled Flyin' Hawaiian (ham, bacon, jalapeno sauce, cheese and grilled pineapple on rye or sourdough) and a Reuben that was recently crowned the best in Austin.
Lately they've also developed a following for their crazy hot dogs, made with Boars Head all-beef franks and loaded with homemade toppings.
With five different versions of the Reuben on the menu, it's no surprise that Fricano's Reuben Dog is one of their most popular hot dog creations.
The franks are wrapped in a generous amount of corned beef and dropped into a freshly baked hot dog bun from Central Market and piled high with sauerkraut and Swiss, dripping with homemade Thousand Island dressing. Sounds good to me.
Fricano's also does a Chicago-style dog with homemade relish, tomatoes, pepperoncini and celery salt, and the Garber Dog named after one of their customers, wrapped in pepperjack cheese and covered with cole slaw, relish and mustard.
Or if you're lucky you might catch their famous Venezuelan Dog special topped with shredded cabbage, onions, crushed chips and criss-crossed squirts of mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.
Owner Paul Fricano is no stranger to hot dogs—he was born in Chicago but grew up near Dallas, where his parents opened The Chicago Connection in 1976, a restaurant that introduced "dragged through the garden" hot dogs and other old-school Chicago classics to hungry Texans.
After working in several restaurant and deli kitchens, Paul opened Fricano's in 2006, joined a year later by longtime friends DeeAnne Bullard and her husband, photographer Jamil Muhaisen who moved from Brooklyn and helped to take the business to the next level.
Along with their signature sandwiches and hot dogs Fricano's offers an ever-changing menu (follow them for updates: Facebook or @fricanosdeli) of homemade soups, breakfast tacos, baked goods, and sandwich specials (barbecue pork, curried chicken salad, Cubanos..) that run out in a matter of hours.
Seems like the sort of place I'd love to have right around the corner—comfortable, hip but not obnoxious, great people and awesome sandwiches and dogs consistently made with some serious care.
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.