Have you ever walked into an establishment, and immediately knew it was a neighborhood hangout? Fric & Frac, at 1700 W. 39th Street, exudes this feeling from the moment you enter. Locals chat casually from table-to-table. Servers call out the names of customers entering the restaurant. Even the menu is filled with background stories behind the naming of key dishes. This local eatery certainly gives off a youthful, hipster vibe, but the clientele seems to cover most all ages.
For over 40 years Fric & Frac has been serving up good eats to the neighborhood. Opening daily at 11:00, they focus on a heavy lunch and dinner rush. They also have a good deal of business from the drinking crowd later in the evening. For this reason they stay open until Midnight all week, and 1:30 in the morning on Friday and Saturdays. Of course, having a full bar helps in attracting customers, as well. The kitchen area almost seems like an afterthought in comparison.
Seating space can become a precious commodity during busy sessions. Tables are arranged wherever possible, from the threshold of the door all the way into the backroom. Back there you will find a longer banquet length table, a couple large round tables, and even some recreational items. A few pinball machines, video games, and a pool table keep patrons occupied. This is especially helpful for those with kids waiting for their orders to be completed.
For singles or smaller groups, seating is also available at a portion of the bar. The bar also appears to be a catch-all location for condiments and other items. Although space is at a premium when they are busy, the customers seem to take this all in stride. For us this was a positive sign. If people are willing to wait in cramped quarters, then they must know something about the food. Now it was our turn to see if this was an accurate assumption.
The menu at Fric & Frac’s is an eclectic mix of greens, fried foods, and handhelds. An assortment of appetizers can become a side dish for one of the entrees that don’t have a side included. My choice fell into that category, so I added the tator tots, which were crunchy and paired well with my sandwich. Crystal ordered Chicken Ships (you have to ask the server about the name), which came with a side of fries. They were standard fare, but plentiful, and the fries were quite good. I have heard some qualms from others about the fries, but they worked well for us.
I have been trying to spread out of my comfort zone when ordering at restaurants that are new to us. One trick I have found success with is to ask the server what they like the best off of the menu. On this visit to Fric & Frac our server was adamant about “The Kelly“. He gave us the lowdown on the origin of the name, and said it paired well with the tots, which is another reason I ordered them. When it arrived I was taken back on the sheer amount of food stuffed between two halves of a bun.
Slice upon slice of smoked turkey is nestled on the bottom bun. This is topped with a pair of chicken strips, and some hot pepper cheese. Lettuce and tomato top it off, before the addition of the top of the onion bun. I felt like I needed to unhinge my jaw to take a bite. I was thankful that the cook had cut it in half, before sending it on its way to our table. My need to add tots to the order was based on an expectation of a normal quantity of food. When it arrived I realized that there is probably a good reason it doesn’t come with a side dish. Too late to worry about that, so I just dug into my meal. I have to admit that this sandwich caused me to overeat. The flavor was so good, that I just couldn’t stop taking bites.
In hindsight I know I would forego the side in the future, but then again I would probably order something different. I mean, if they make this sandwich so delicious, what else is awaiting our discovery on the menu? The only way to find out is to visit this hip and happening place just a stones throw from State Line. Be sure to ask your server for the lowdown on the menu items, and enjoy a game of pinball while you wait. At Fric & Frac it is all about being comfortable.