Frank and Mary's is an inconspicuous, unmarked spot along Elston Avenue that will surely pass you by if you blink an eye. A lone Old Style sign is the only indication of a working establishment, but the bar's no-frills appearance certainly hasn't hindered the crowds. Come lunch time, it's next to impossible to find a seat.
A legend in its own right, the bar that is now Frank and Mary's was originally opened in 1934 under the name Jeanette's Tavern. In 1972, Frank and his sister, Mary, took over the spot, offering an easy-going atmosphere, cheap drinks and nothing but the best from the kitchen. Mary makes all the food on the lunch menu, including chicken and pork chops, short ribs, stuffed peppers, chicken schnitzel, meatloaf, perch and corned beef. The lunches are served up with homemade mashed potatoes, bread and butter and a vegetable. Half orders are only $4, full orders $6.50.
Anyone who's tasted the homemade lunch swears it's the best, but will tell you to show up early if you want a bite (the tavern seats around 35). However, if the food does run out, Mary won't send you home hungry. A good ol' ham and cheese sandwich is always available for those unfilled bellies.
If you need something to wash down one of Mary's hearty meals, the bar offers $2.75 domestics and $3.75 imports. The tavern has a homey-woodsy feel about it, thanks to the buck heads above the bar and wood paneling. The walls are filled with framed prints of the CTA, Wrigley Field and Navy Pier, along with maps of Ireland and Scotland and some tributes to The Three Stooges. If you're looking for a little entertainment, there's a dart board, a TV, a Touch Tunes jukebox and a bowling arcade game.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Katie Piepel