Fat Franks, the self-proclaimed Wurst Place in Bellows Falls, is a place to relish. Anyone can serve a hot dog, but not everyone can do it right. This little place offers perfectly prepared frankfurters, sausages, and burgers in a clean, friendly, and welcoming environment. Though the franks and such are not made here, their provenance is local and regional. To wit, the bacon and most of the smoked sausages come from nearby Claremont, New Hampshire, while the wienies and other wursts come from Boston, Springfield, and Mattapan, Massachusetts. Even the ale used to poach the knackwurst and bratwurst hails from Vermont's own Long Trail Brewing Company.
Proprietor Jim Mort with daughter Lila Pellerin
Begun some three-and-a-half years ago, this excellent wurst venture was a result of some compelling circumstances. While Jim Mort was growing dissatisfied with his job, a Chinese restaurant, the sole tenant of his building next to Miss Bellows Falls Diner, closed and vacated the premises. The time was right for his embarkation into the man-eat-dog world of wieners.
Visitors to this Bellows Falls wienery can enjoy their red hots in three of the wurst ways: eat-in, take-home, or self-serve. Perusal of the comprehensive menu reveals every manner of encased meat imaginable, including lamb, chicken, andouille, and Italian sausages, kielbasy, and German-style würste. Each of the seven types of sausage is smothered in its own perfectly matched sauce-and-veggie concoction. For the dogs, at least 15 toppings are available, along with several sides such as hand-cut Russet fries (with optional chili and cheese), homemade coleslaw, and beans laced with maple syrup. Beyond the wurst, Fat Franks offers seven-ounce beef burgers (as well as turkey and vegetable varieties), also prepared in seemingly infinite ways. For those who prefer a doggie bag, three sizes of frankfurter—Everyday, Skinny, and Fat—are sold by the pound, along with the aforementioned bacon and sausages. One can even purchase the perennially popular Sabrett's sauerkraut by the bag. Finally, to satisfy stomachs growling for a quick bite, there's the self-service steam table at which one can dress up a so-called Everyday Dog in fine fashion. This is how my Comestaccomplice and I sampled the best of the wurst.
The Everyday Dog’s meaty flavor and proper "snap" reflect Fat Franks' attention to quality. Though not all the menu's add-ons are available here, the superior toppings and condiments more than adequately round out a truly delicious experience. While this New Yorker has grown accustomed to Sabrett's sauerkraut (and was pleased to see it among the self-service offerings), I've never enjoyed a tastier, spicier (homemade) chili topping anywhere. In addition, the well-chosen Raye's Stone Mill Mustards from Maine afford a deeply-flavored sauce for every sausage. Lastly, to help tame the dogs, beer and wine are available.
Frankly speaking, in the world of wursts, this place is a wiener.
92 Rockingham Street
Bellows Falls, VT 05101-1316 (map)
By train: Amtrak's Vermonter to Bellows Falls, VT (BLF)