Road Trip: Kenosha - Frank's Diner

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I was watching the Food Network one night, when one of my favorite shows (Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) stumbled into a little place from Kenosha, WI called "Frank's Diner." The show featured an unusual breakfast dish called "The Garbage Plate" and it looked, well, incredible. So with the fall colors starting to bloom, and nothing on the agenda for today, it seemed like a good opportunity to make the drive to Kenosha and to experience a garbage plate once and for all.

Woke up early - 4:45am - to ride the bike for just under 2 hours, and to run for an hour. With showering and transition time, the car was on the road at just about 8:30am. By taking the scenic route through Lake Geneva, it was nearly 11:00am by the time Frank's Diner rolled into view. Frank's is located almost literally on Lake Michigan, and it's extremely easy to miss. The place is absolutely tiny.

Figured the church crowds would either be finished eating, or still at church; it stood to reason that the wait would be short... well, so much for figuring.

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If you look closely in the glass of that photo, you can see a line of people... that line extended all the way into Frank's, and ran the entire "length" of Frank's. Frank's Diner is literally 10-12 feet wide by about 40-50 feet long. It seats perhaps 40 people at the most, and when you're lucky enough to score a seat, you're wedged between people waiting for a seat (behind you), and the cooks and waitstaff working directly (2 feet) in front of you.

Think I'm kidding?

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That photo was taken on the way out; after the place had died down significantly (they close at 1pm and stop taking orders or giving out seats 30 minutes prior). I'd say it was about 12:20pm when that photo was taken... but, you can see how small the place is.

Frank's got its start in the 1920s and was family owned until 2001. In 2001, two ladies bought it (along with the recipes), cleaned-it up a bit, put some money into the place, and built it into the mega-breakfast-mecca that it is today. They both work as cooks; one lady cooks nearly everything they serve (on the griddle); the other appears to work primarily at the toaster - they serve fresh, homemade toast all day, and it's nothing short of amazing. Here's a sort-of-blurry photo of the area where all of the magic takes place:

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After browsing the menu for a bit, the "half garbage plate" sounded good, as did the pumpkin pancakes. Within 10-15 minutes, the plates arrived, and, well - here's the garbage plate:

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That's a mess of hash browns, with jalapeno peppers, mushrooms, onions, peppers, three eggs, and cheese, all mixed together and grilled to a crispy goodness. To say it was unbelievable is an understatement - it was magical. And the toast? Oh my goodness.

And, as good as the garbage plate was (keep in mind, that was a half-order), there were pancakes to tackle...

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Thick, fluffy, light (yet hearty), and chock full of pumpkin flavor, these could quite easily be the best pancakes anyone has ever made. They were dusted with a cinnamon sugar that when combined with the butter (only used about half of that butter), was sinfully delicious. Washed it down with some decent coffee and left feeling content, if not a tad full.

If you get a chance, take the trip to Kenosha and visit Frank's Diner. You'll be glad you did; just be ready to wait for a seat. Be patient - trust me, it's worth it!

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You can read more about Frank's Diner at their website - check out the menu and be sure to read their story.

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