I Actually Tried Ina’s Favorite Famous Hot Dog — in Paris!
Okay, trying Ina’s favorite hot dog is not the only reason I went to Paris. But it was so high up on my to-do list that I went straight from the airport to the hotel (to quickly check in and drop off my bags) and then to the hot dog spot. I did not shower after my overnight flight; I did not stop to change my shoes; I did not pass go or collect $200. I went right to Frenchie To Go.
How do I know about Frenchie To Go? I seriously never would have found it if I wasn’t looking for it; it’s off by itself on this quiet little street! (Fun fact: It’s a street food-inspired spin-off of chef Gregory Marchand’s fine-dining restaurant and wine bar, Frenchie.) I only knew about it because a couple of years ago, Today Food asked Ina Garten what she’d pick for her final meal … AND SHE SAID A HOT DOG. More specifically, this hot dog.
“OK, my last meal is going to surprise you,” she said. “It’s gonna be a hot dog at Frenchie to Go in Paris. It’s unbelievable. Maybe with french fries, since it’s the last meal.”
I had to try it. Not just because it got such a ringing endorsement from Ina (although that certainly helped), but also because I love a good hot dog. Hot dogs were the only things I ate for most of my childhood. and I insisted that when I got married I was going to have my wedding catered by the owners of this drive-in hot dog stand in South Jersey. (I did not end up doing this, by the way.)
Back to the hot dog at hand. I got to Frenchie To Go a bit before two. There were still lots of locals having lunch in the area, but the place wasn’t too crowded. I was able to order and find a seat right away. It’s fast-casual, so you order and tell them your name, and then they bring it over to you when it’s ready. (The joint also has a super-cute look to it that doesn’t really come through on the internet.)
The waiter and I even had a funny bit of back-and-forth banter when I thought he said “Lisa” but actually said “Vanessa” and gave me a lobster roll, which looked good but was more than twice the cost of my 12-Euro hot dog (I turned it into a “menu” to get a drink — not pictured — and a side).
When the waiter actually said “Lisa,” I was so pumped. The first thing you’ll notice: The hot dog is on the thinner side. I know a lot of people like a dog as thick and hefty as a wurst, but I am just not one of them. The dog is made in-house and it’s 100 percent smoked Shorthorn beef. Underneath it sits some house-made sauerkraut. Then, something you need to know: That’s not mustard you see. It’s Savora sauce, a popular French condiment (a magical concoction of mustard seeds, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, curcuma, cloves, celery, garlic, tarragon, vinegar, and a touch of honey). Oh, and the hot dog bun is baked by famed Paris baker Gontran Cherrier.
Upon first bite, I loved that it wasn’t too snappy. I know, a lot of you are going to say that snap is the most important thing. Let’s just agree to disagree. The bun is pillowy and buttery at the same time. The sauerkraut didn’t seem to add much, but that Savora sauce sure did! It was tangy, and sweet, and ever-so-slightly just not mustard — which surprised me with every single bite. The hot dog itself was a little dry, but the Savora sauce did help to make up for that.
My conclusion? It’s a darn good hot dog — especially compared to the mass-produced ones I grew up eating. But I wish I also tried that lobster roll. It’s even worth a trip to Paris.
Have you ever had the hot dog at Frenchie To Go? Do you have a better hot dog to nominate? Tell us in the comments below!