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Tony Frank's Tavern

Tony Frank'sIn a word: Frank, yes. Tony, no.

The specs: #0664  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Daily Dadio, Madison Fish Fry, Yelp, City Search, Badger Herald, Eat Drink Madison; Tony Frank's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Latest Tony Frank's Tavern news and reviews

Tony Frank's and HopaliciousAnne ate the German burger with a gin & tonic.
JM ate the grilled chicken breast sandwich with bacon and a lemonade.
John ate the Sonoma burger with a Spotted Cow because he couldn't get Totally Naked.
Nichole ate the bleu cheese burger with a French onion soup and a Hopalicious.
We split a sampler appetizer basket.
The bill was $58, or $14.50/person, plus tip.
Nichole gave Tony Frank's Tavern an A-; JM gave Tony Frank's Tavern a B+; John gave Tony Frank's Tavern a B-; Anne gave Tony Frank's Tavern a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Tony Frank's is not just a swivel - it's a swivel, nod and point kind of joint.

We stopped in to the converted house on a Saturday night for burgers. The dining room was packed. There are two lobes to it, both observable from the serpentine bar. There's also a small, glassed-off room that might have been the nonsmoking section way back when. Our server was doing yeoman's work on the floor, and though there were a few spaceouts, she attributed that to being more used to bartending than waiting tables.

We couldn't settle on an appetizer, partly because there are no cheese curds at Tony Frank's (preverse or practical?). It turns out the sampler platter was not a good solution to that problem.

Of the four items, the jalapeño poppers were best. They were filled with smooth, warm cream cheese. The mozzarella sticks and onion rings were average (bagged), and the breaded mushrooms were sub-par (someone at our table went so far as to dub their overdone shells around soggy innards "sarcofungi," no relation to EQ2). It was nice to have plenty of condiment options, though of the three, only the bleu cheese dip was great. The ranch dressing was average, and the marinara flat and tasteless.

The French onion soup was pretty good, though, topped with a thick blanket of Swiss cheese hiding a swift sherry kick in the broth.

Combo basketFrench onion soup

JM's chicken sandwich was good with bacon and dressed well, but owing to a problem unreleated to Tony Frank's - he was unable to finish the sandwich.  On reheat, it remained juicy.

Kate's burger rating guide helped us sort the craveable from the common in the burger department:

  • Bun: Untoasted wheat bun with sesame seeds. All sogged out pretty early in the game.
  • Meat: Handmade patties done to order.
  • Bun/meat ratio: OK sizewise, but the soggage was so sad. These patties deserve better dance partners.
  • Cheese: Really good bleu on the Bleu, decent jack on the Sonoma, good Swiss on the German.
  • Misc.: There were two strips of thin, crispy bacon laid sassily across each patty. Where the sauerkraut had crisped on the grill, it was heavenly. Horseradish sauce or mustard would have added a lot. About a 6 of 10 overall (those buns...)

Sonoma jack bacon burgerBleu cheese burgerChicken sandwich with baconGerman burger

The drinks are big and strong, the beers come in ice-cold glasses, and the burgers have character. If the Beltline infringes, expect a ruckus.

Since 1929


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I love their German burger.

I've never been, but a friend swears they make Madison's best Rueben. I will make it out there one of these days!

Reuben is very good.

Chili is pedestrian--more like tomato juice with beans and very little ground beef. Last time I was there, it was barely warmer than room temperature.

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