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Near the corner of Broadway and Bowen Road in Lancaster sits Frank’s Grille, an average-looking neighborhood tavern that we soon found out was a cut above the usual.

It was a Saturday dinner date with the Significant Other’s parents and a special guest diner – SigO’s nephew Nate. Since the young lad had plans at 7:30 p.m., we arrived at Frank’s around 5:15 p.m., thinking we’d have the pick of tables. Wrong. The place was packed. Our name went on the list. It bodes well when a place is busy early.

Frank’s is cozy with brick walls and a golf motif. Waitresses hustle and it wasn’t long before we were seated.

Nate, SigO and I jokingly ordered a beer (birch beer) while we discussed our meal strategy.

Frank’s is the perfect family place with loads of choices, many on the Cheap Eats budget. There’s also pizza.

Interesting daily and weekly specials are posted online. Pasta/meatballs with rapini? Ahi tuna sandwich with wasabi mayo? Flounder stuffed with crab? We love an ambitious tavern menu!

In the interest of research, I ordered an Eggplant Stack with Balsamic Glaze ($9.99) appetizer while SigO and Nate decided on a Frank’s Mac & Cheese ($6.99, served Friday and Saturday only). It must be noted our waitress mesmerized us. She took our entire order by memory and never missed a beat.

My huge stack arrived slightly askew on a plate of greens. Crispy breaded eggplant was layered with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, finished with a deep tangy balsamic glaze. This scrumptious “appetizer” would work as a dinner.

The behemoth bowl of mac and cheese was just as heavenly. Ultra creamy, it arrived smoking hot with a nice brown crust. SigO and Nate dug in, passing around samples on plates the thoughtful waitress supplied. It would be plenty as a side dish for a table, or as a meal for a very hungry person. A two-thumbs up from Nate (meaning your kids will eat it, too).

Despite the packed house, our main meals arrived right on time.

SigO’s Mexican Burger ($8.29) came loaded with jalapeños, lettuce and tomato. He omitted the sour cream, but lamented that he should have added a cheese. Nonetheless it was cooked perfectly medium, served with a side of piping hot fries.

Nate ordered the special Kobe-Style Beef Burger ($9.99). Topped with American cheese, it was a juicy delight and nicely medium. Both came on excellent rolls, too, not the junky kind.

SigO Pappa went traditional with the Beef on Weck/Wing Combo ($12.99). Frank’s touts its roast beef, which didn’t disappoint. It was a humongous pile of tender meat. There was so much he used a fork, leaving no room to eat any of his five giant wings.

SigO Mom’s Patty Melt ($6.79) was divine. A big beef patty topped with grilled onions, ranch dressing and provolone, grilled on her choice of rye.

My Kyle’s Special Chicken Sandwich was a tender and juicy grilled chicken breast topped with pesto, tomato, hot pepper stuffing and mozzarella. Just enough heat (no burning lips), it was served on ciabatta bread that had a nice, crisp crust but soft interior. Our sandwiches didn’t come with fries, but there were more than enough from the fellas.

Frank’s runs the gamut of Cheap Eats choices from a BLT ($4.99), Fried Bologna ($5.89) and Cube Steak Sandwich ($5.99) to a California Burger with Avocado and Chipotle Mayo ($8.79) and a Citrus Walnut Gorgonzola Salad ($9.99). A single Pork Chop Dinner ($12.99) comes with potato, vegetable and salad. A half Fish Fry ($9.49) is served Friday and Saturday. We are dying to try the Hangover Burger ($8.99) with a Fried Egg, Bacon and Cheese (minus the headache, of course).

And we will soon, as Frank’s is going to be part of our regular rotation from now on.

Frank’s Grille

Where: 5820 Broadway, Lancaster (681-3440, www.franksgrille.com)

Four pennies

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday. Closed Sundays.

Wheelchair Access: Yes

Extras: Go online to see weekly/daily specials. Frank’s After Dark Menu special Monday-Tuesdays after 9 p.m., buy one appetizer get one free. Heated patio dining.