Generally, when you come across a terrific dining spot that has neither a phone number nor an actual address, it is a pretty good bet that the place could be considered a hidden gem. The truth is, however, that Fred's Franks in Wakefield isn't ALL that hidden or little-known, even though it does match the aforementioned criteria. Still, this little mobile hot dog stand near Route 128 remains enough of an unknown spot to many outside of the northern suburbs of Boston that we decided to feature it on this site, mainly because of the deliciousness of the food that can be gotten here with little more than pocket change.
Located on a patch of grass just south of the Route 128/129 intersection and just north of beautiful Lake Quannapowitt, Fred's Franks is in some ways the most convenient of roadside snack shacks in the Boston area, as it is within walking distance of the sprawling office buildings nearby and is more or less on the route that many walkers, bikers, and joggers take around the lake. And yes, since it is a matter of seconds off of Route 128 (one of the busiest highways in Eastern Massachusetts), it is almost ridiculously easy to stop by Fred's on the way home from work or while heading to and from the coast on weekends. Fred's has a new trailer now that is bigger than the old one, and it remains a rather simple setup, with the trailer attached to a truck and having grills that impart a wonderful smoky smell to the air around the cart. Customers wait in line by the trailer, place their order, and are given rolls that they hold onto until their their food items are plucked from one of the grills and placed onto the rolls.
Not surprisingly, the menu at Fred's Franks is very limited, with folks choosing from three different-sized Pearl all-beef natural casing hot dogs as well as kielbasa, chorizo, and linguica, all of which are cooked using a mix of lump charcoal and apple wood. The sizes for the hot dogs are 1/6 pound, 1/4 pound, and 1/2 pound, with the 1/4-pound hot dog option probably being plenty for most people. Because the frankfurters have a natural casing, they do have a bit of a "snap" that so many hot dog lovers prefer, and in this writer's opinion, it also isn't so much of a snap as to deter lovers of skinless hot dogs from eating them. The hot dogs, kielbasa, chourico, and linguica all have that unforgettable smoky taste that comes from the use of natural wood in the grills, and as would be expected, the meat also has a good amount of char (though not too much) coming from the cookers. Condiments include relish, ketchup, several types of mustard, sauerkraut, and mayonnaise, with the habanaise being a hotter mayo option (a more straight-up habanero sauce is available for those who like their condiments to be very hot). By the way, what may be the signature item at Frank's is the "Shnurble," which includes a hot dog, chourico, mayo, cabbage, and hot sauce.
The Boston area isn't really known for its roadside snack shacks, but Wakefield has a real winner of a snack shack in Fred's Franks. It may not be completely hidden anymore, but this hot dog stand remains a spot that isn't exactly a household name, either (unless you live in Wakefield or nearby Reading). Whether it is a true hidden gem or not is no matter if you are a hot dog lover, as Fred's Franks certainly features some of the tastiest dogs in the entire Boston area.
Copyright © 2011-2015, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).