The first thing you need to know is that this is a take-out only establishment. There are some small tables where you can hang around while you wait for your food to be prepared, but you need to plan to hit the road after that. The next thing to be aware of is that you need to allow for extra time when you order pizza. I do not begrudge a busy oven at all, but a 50-minute prep time left me recently scrambling to come up with an alternative weeknight dinner.
In any event, the mashup of Good Truckin’ and Detroit Frankie’s is the most recent thing to lure me to parts south of Mt. Hope Avenue. The minds behind Good Truckin’ have cracked the codes on how to run an efficient, small diner (information that I think could be helpful to another certain locally famous diner north of Old Town), and its vegan offerings have always been incredibly inspired and unique.
Five long years ago, Mr. She Ate and I decided to have food trucks line the street in front of the Old Town Marquee in order to feed our wedding guests. Two of those vendors were Frank Tignarelli and Nick Sinicropi, and these proprietors have teamed up at the new location on South Pennsylvania Avenue. On my first visit, I ordered a large pizza with pepperoni and an order of pesto squares. My toddler gobbled down the pesto squares. Her older brother helped himself to a slice of “red pepper pizza,” as he calls it, and had fun eating it crust-first like the lovable little weirdo that he is. His father and I polished off the rest and remarked that it was good, as is most pizza, but that the other location of Detroit Frankie’s offers wood-fired pizza, which is better.
After perusing the shelves while I waited for my order, I also brought home a premade ball of pizza dough and a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The shop has a full line of Detroit Frankie’s-branded condiments, pickles and dressings, which all sound delicious. The salad dressing is perfectly balanced, and now I know where to grab more flour for our home pizza oven. Good Truckin’ has stocked the cooler shelves with “take and bakes,” various desserts and entrees that can be, as the name implies, taken home and baked fresh.
On my next visit, I called ahead and ordered two dozen “bonuts” to take to the office. Good Truckin’ has morphed biscuit dough into bite-sized nuggets reminiscent of donut holes, but as my colleagues learned, they are best eaten warm and fresh. The dozen or so dipping sauces are the star of this show, and my favorites were the peanut butter cream cheese and raspberry jam.
A few days later, I returned for Good Truckin’ lunch. For myself, I chose three tacos: the Baja, the Bacon me Crazy and the Elote. The Bacon me Crazy was my favorite, but with bacon, cheddar, avocado, tomato, garlic poblano aioli and arugula, how could it not be? The level of flavor bursting out of the slightly crispy corn tortilla was outrageous. Mr. She Ate had the Spicy Pig Wrap, with fried chicken, bacon, waffle fries, buffalo sauce, ranch and pico de gallo served in a grilled tortilla. The wrap was delicious, but his favorite part of lunch was the side of “Rando Fries,” which was entirely unexpected and delightful. A variety of potato products: regular fries, waffle fries, smiley face potato circles, wedges and other little nuggets, are all tossed together and served up like a much less healthy version of fruit salad.
This mashup is like nothing I’ve seen before, and I am hopeful that as staffing and supply chain issues smooth out, the shelves can be stocked with even more products to take home. I’d love to see take and bake trays of cinnamon rolls and parbaked pizza. If Oprah taught me, anything, it’s that manifesting it into the universe makes things happen.
Two cutting-edge local culinary stars partner on a new venture, sharing space and bringing new food options to a part of town that could use a flavor boost. I’m here for it, and the concept sounds exciting.
Detroit Frankie’s Pizza and Deli, which has served wood-fired pizza fare in various locations for several years, and Good Truckin’ Diner, which started tickling palates literally as a truck and then as a diner in REO Town, are partners in yum.
These two Lansing favorites have now added a location on South Pennsylvania Avenue that also includes a small market with mostly locally sourced products. There’s a lot to take in. Detroit Frankie’s is on your left, but Good Truckin’ is kind of behind it with menus on television screens. Good Truckin’ is also in front of you, behind a wall, and waitresses will pop out to take your order. The market is on your far right, just beyond a few stand-up tables. Tucked in the back corner are Good Truckin’s take-n-bake options.
When I walked in the first time, the cashier from Detroit Frankie’s was welcoming. He asked, “Is it your first time here?” And then shared the lay of the land, which I appreciated. I ordered from both partners, then perused the four aisles of Michigan-based products. The assortment of condiments, salad dressings, pickled vegetables and pasta provisions will both excite your taste buds and fill your grocery basket.
What’s really good?
Good Truckin’ brought the yum early and often. The Pumpkin Pancakes were fluffy with a nostalgic pumpkin flavor, like a taste of fall in all the best ways. They’re served with nuts and a thick berry compote, the perfect reward for a youth soccer game player. The handheld game was very strong. The Jerk Chicken Taco had a Caribbean flavor and grilled pineapple with a spice that was spot on. The Big Kahuna Hoagie had steak and bacon — pair that with more grilled pineapple and jalapeno cream cheese — what more could you ask for in a sandwich?
The Sweet Heat Sliders featured delicious cayenne maple syrup and a perfectly fried egg, but it probably could have benefitted from something acidic rather than the candied jalapeños to balance the flavor.
Detroit Frankie’s in-house crust and fresh ingredients didn’t disappoint. The Olive Oil pizza — goat cheese, bacon and Brussel sprouts — offered a great combination of toppings and had perfectly crisp crust.
What’s just OK?
Good Truckin’s Elote tacos. I wanted to love these so bad, but the corn tortillas were a bit undercooked and limp. Out of the eight bites it took me to eat these, I only got actual corn in about two of them. The queso fresco sauce was tasty but overwhelmed each bite.
The “bonuts.” I first attempted to get donuts for my office, but none were available due to a still-unperfected batter. On my second attempt at the bonuts — a cross between donut holes and biscuits — I ordered three delicious icings: maple, lemon, and peanut butter cream cheese. The bonuts themselves were borderline burnt and more blah than I wanted them to be. I’ll still try them again someday soon.
Detroit Frankie’s Cuban Pizza. With ham, roast pork, pickles and mustard, this pie was strangely runny in the middle and inconsistent with what I’ve grown accustomed to from Detroit Frankie’s, but the flavor profile matched that of the traditional sandwich.
The best bite overall was a tie between Good Truckin’s previously mentioned Pumpkin Pancakes and Detroit Frankie’s Swanky Frankie’s. They come wrapped in a buttery garlic blanket of bread, and the very first bite was a hot, juicy, cheesy moment not to be forgotten. Think of your favorite pizzeria garlic knot wrapped around a ballpark Frank stuffed with cheddar cheese.
The honorable mention goes to Detroit Frankie’s Buffalo Blue Cheese Dip. I found it in the market, and it was a true hit on a football Saturday. It has just enough heat and a wonderful smokiness that melds with the hints of blue cheese.
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