The Franklin Inn is a Pittsburgh restaurant specializing in Mexican food.
Franklin Park, PA, where the Franklin Inn can be found, is a very comfortable, mostly residential section of Allegheny County located about 20 minutes north of downtown Pittsburgh.
My first visit to the Franklin Inn came on a Friday evening, which I discovered is a very busy time for the restaurant. From my chair in the small waiting area I watched hopeful diners as they heard the same news I had just received, “Your table will be ready in about 40 minutes; I’m sure it will be worth the wait.” Most folks weren’t the least phased, but added their names to the list and settled in to wait in anticipation. I spent part of my time in the waiting room reading the menu, which, besides giving me a good idea of the dishes I would be enjoying, also explained that a family member had decided to specialize in Mexican food over 20 years ago. Today, for the patrons and owners of this North Hills treasure, that decision seemed to have been a good one.
After glancing over the menu I moved to a spot in the waiting room where I could observe the main dinning area. Visually the room was inviting and the assortment of art was well thought out. These aren’t just pieces to cover a wall. This collection was put together to make guests feel comfortable. As I discovered later, the artwork used in all sections of the Inn was meant to give a very inviting feeling.
It was not an extremely quiet room. OK, I like the place and I’m telling you that when you are at The Franklin Inn on a Friday evening you know you are not alone. I enjoyed the sounds of people enjoying themselves. There was no music being played in the background to set the mood. None needed.
After 30 minutes of our 40 minute wait we were called to be seated. We were given a table in a small nook located at the far corner of the dining room. Soon a basket of corn chips and salsa arrived at our table; they were good. They were very good! We learned later that both were made fresh in their kitchen. With the delivery of the chips we were told that our waitress would be with us shortly. A few minutes of politely nibbling on the corn chips convinced me that these may be the best chips I ever had. I thought a Margarita would be a good match with the chips and salsa, and I was pleased with my choice.
My dinner companion selected chilies with pinto beans and a side salad; my choice was the chicken enchilada with the bean & corn salad and rice.
It took only about 15 minutes for the meals to arrive, which was very good service for the culinary experience that we were about to enjoy. This meal was made for me! It was muy bueno!
Sometimes, when I see a more than ample amount of food, I’ll quickly decide to take half home for tomorrow’s lunch. After a few bites I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Leftovers always lose something, and on this evening I decided there wouldn’t be any!
The employees that I dealt with at the Inn were professional. From the gentleman that took our reservation while assuring us it would be worth the wait and the young lady that led us to our table, to the waitress that handled all my questions with patience and a smile, this group added to the experience.
After our initial contact with our waitress I asked a few (maybe quite a few) questions about Mexican food. My timing was bad. While I was asking my questions she had other patrons that needed attention. Instead of just giving short answers she took care of my Margarita order. It took our waitress about ten minutes to reappear. When she did return she made us feel like we were the only customers in the place and my questions were answered completely.
As I sat there enjoying an after dinner cup of coffee, thinking about the desert that was to follow I realized my meal was rather mild (not so caliente) by Mexican standards and while I want to give a well rounded view of the place, it was beyond me to order even one more bite. I noticed the couple next to me were dining on hot wings and beer (one of my favorite combinations), so I turned to them and asked if the wings were hot enough and in unison they smiled, shook their heads yes and went back to their meal.
Our waitress returned to talk deserts. I was leaning towards the caramel flan when she mentioned that the owner makes ice cream and today’s flavor was chocolate. I didn’t budge until she said it was the best chocolate ice cream I would ever have. I had to find out.
I ordered the chocolate with 2 spoons.
Located at 2313 Rochester Road Pittsburgh PA 15237
Closed on Sunday
Review by Tom Pollard