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Destination Taverns

Published: May 6, 2011 in Midwest Living

Despite its movie-star cachet, Twin Anchors Restaurant and Tavern, located on a quiet corner in Old Town on Chicago's North Side, hasn't gotten too big for its bootlegger history and loyal neighborhood clientele.  The nautical-theme tavern opened in 1932, and during its heyday, Frank Sinatra often entertained friends in the red leather booths (Ol' Blue Eyes memorabilia hangs on the pine walls).  More recently, Conan O'Brien, Jack Black, Michael Shannon, Joan Cusack and the All-American Rejects have come here to nosh on the signature barbeque ribs.

Michelin Award

Published: November 10, 2010
Publication: The Michelin Guide

Twin Anchors recently had the honor of being awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide Chicago, 2011  Restaurants.  The Bib Gourmand designation denotes good cuisine at a reasonable price in a variety of comfort categories. Defined as “Inspectors’ Favorites for Good Value,” Bib Gourmand restaurants offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included), and are often of most value to a city’s residents, who regularly dine in neighborhood restaurants.

The Michelin Guide lists approximately 300 fine restaurants in Chicago, with a select number receiving the coveted stars. Forty-six Chicago-area restaurants have earned Bib Gourmand status. The inspectors in Chicago found an excellent and diverse selection of restaurants meeting the criteria for the Bib Gourmand across the city and in a few of the closer suburbs. Bib Gourmands are spots where residents send their friends and families and represent the diversity and creativity found in the Chicago restaurant scene.

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'The Dark Knight'
Where Did They Shoot That Fantastic Scene?
by Robert K. Elder

Published Date: August 3, 2008

"Dark Tours" anyone?

With all the buzz accompanying "The Dark Knight," it's only a matter of time before some entrepreneur (in a plastic Batman mask, no less) will start conducting tours of Chicago as Gotham City.

May we offer the following map as an alternative.

"The Dark Knight" shot 65 days in Chicago, with additional studio and stunt work in Hong Kong and England. Below, a complete Chicago location list, provided by the Chicago Film Office.

1. 500 N. Franklin St.
Street scene, Lamborghini driving shots

2. 100 N. Wells St.
Street scene, Lamborghini driving shots

3. 200 E. Wacker Drive/Chicago River
Helicopter shots of the city

4. 200 N. Post Pl.
Street scene, chase sequence (Joker tries to rub out Harvey Dent.)

5. 200 S. LaSalle St.
Street scene, police procession and nighttime chase sequence

6. 4700 W. Lake St.
Street scene, Lamborghini driving shots

7. 401 N. Cicero Ave.
This former Brach's Candy factory doubles as a Gotham City hospital, which the Joker (Heath Ledger) blows up.

8. 505 N. McClurg Ct. (a condo construction site) and 401 N. Wabash Ave. (Trump Tower)
These two locations combine to set the stage for a final showdown between Batman (Christian Bale) and the Joker.

9. 200 W. Randolph
Batman takes down the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and his gang in this parking garage.

10. 500 S. Lower Wacker Drive
Batman (in the Batmobile) races to rescue Gotham's attorney general, who is under fire from the Joker and his goons.

11. 200 E. Lower Randolph St. (Metra entrance)
Batman, on the motorcyclelike Batpod, races through Gotham's underground.

12. 200 S. Wacker Drive
Chase sequence (Joker tries to rub out Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart.)

13. 71 E. Wacker Drive (Hotel 71)
Bruce Wayne's (Bale) penthouse bedroom

14. 300 E. Wacker Drive
Chase sequence (Joker tries to rub out Dent.)

15. 50 W. Washington St. (Daley Plaza)
Dent tries a case in a courtroom.

16. LaSalle and Monroe Streets
An 18-wheeler flips ? end over end during a showdown between Batman and the Joker.

17. 200 N. Wabash
Crowd evacuates Gotham.

18. 111 E. Wacker Driver (Illinois Center Buildings, Building 2)
The Joker crashes a party in Wayne's penthouse and gets slapped by Rachel Dawes (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal).

19. 1500 S. Lumber St.
Batman's secret underground lair, as Wayne Manor is being rebuilt.

20. 404 W. Harrison St.
The old Chicago Post Office doubles as Gotham City Bank in an opening heist sequence.

21. 17 W. Adams St. (The Berghoff)
Gotham cops arrest gangsters galore.

22. 1660 N. Sedgwick St. (Twin Anchors)
Two-Face appears at a bar.

23. 200 S. Canal St.
Driving shots.

24. 525 W. Monroe St.
Various.

25. LaSalle Street
A funeral procession for Gotham's police commissioner.

26. 175 N. State St. (Chicago Theatre)
Gyllenhaal and Eckhart's characters attempt to attend a ballet.

27. Lake Michigan just off Iroquois
Landing (near 87th Street) Bruce Wayne meets a seaplane from his yacht (digital island added later).

28. 10100 S. Avenue G
Non-shooting, but rehearsals of stunts held here.

29. 2301 S. Indiana Ave. (McCormick Place)
Interior of Wayne Enterprises.

30. 700 E. Grand Ave. (Navy Pier)
Gotham citizens board ferryboats.

31. 233 S. Wacker Drive (Sears Tower)
Batman surveys his city from a sweeping rooftop aerial shot.

32. 226 W. Ontario St. (Sound Bar)
Batman bashes skulls to get to a Gotham crime lord.

33. 330 N. Wabash Ave.
Various locations, including the mayor's office, Harvey Dent's office and the boardroom of Wayne Enterprises.

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Twin Anchors
Serving 75 Years of Memories
by Staff

Published May 1, 2008

A wooden, horse-drawn cart pulled up to Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern (1655 N. Sedgwick) last summer from Louis Glunz Beers, reminiscent of beer deliveries in 1932, the year Twin Anchors opened. This was just one of the many tributes that siblings and Twin Anchors owners Paul Tuzi, Mary Kay Cimarusti and Gina Manrique paid to the restaurant and tavern’s storied past during its 75-year anniversary celebration.

Among other festivities, in September 2007 Twin Anchors hosted approximately 200 people, including children of previous owners, loyal customers and long-time vendors, at a fundraising gala featuring a full orchestra, and impersonators of Frank Sinatra, Twin Anchors’ most famous customer, and Dean Martin. The gala raised approximately $15,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Commenting on the success of the event, Paul says, “Twin Anchors is one of the oldest restaurants in Chicago, and has a lot of meaning to a lot of people.”

A Taste of Old Chicago
Paul, Mary Kay and Gina’s father, Phil, purchased Twin Anchors in June1978 from Cyril and Rose Gard, who had owned the restaurant since the mid-1950s. Phil served as the insurance manager for the building, and when Cyril and Rose put the restaurant up for sale, he jumped on the opportunity to make a career change.

“My father was tired of working for a large company,” Paul says. “He wanted a business that he could control and call his own.”

Recognizing the unique charm of Twin Anchors, the Tuzi family has by-and-large maintained the restaurant and tavern’s cozy, neighborhood ambiance.  Customers can still sit at the 40-foot mahogany bar that the Schlitz Brewing Company donated to the tavern that existed on the premises during World War I and that remained in place during Prohibition, when the space was transformed into a speakeasy named “Tante Lee Soft Drinks.” Low ceilings, wood-paneled walls, dark brown leather booths and red Formica tables add to the historic appeal of the restaurant and tavern.

Many of Twin Anchors’ traditions date back to its original owners, Bob Walters and Herb Eldean.  While Herb’s involvement in Twin Anchors lasted only a couple of years, as the harbor master of Monroe Harbor, he is credited with coming up with its nautical name.  Bob Walters and his wife established Twin Anchors as a destination for delicious, comforting fare. Soon after opening the restaurant and tavern in 1932, the Walters began offering customers Sunday-night meals featuring items such as fried chicken, pot roast, pork chops and barbecue baby back ribs. Since Twin Anchors did not have a kitchen when it first opened, the Walters prepared the food from their apartment directly above the business. The slow-cooked, tender and juicy pork ribs became an instant hit, and the Walters soon began offering them every night of the week.

Ribs remain the most popular item on the menu, according to Paul, and Twin Anchors serves more than 1,400 slabs of ribs each week.  Customers can still order the Walters’ original “mild” sauce or the tangier and more popular “zesty” sauce that Paul’s brother, Peter, developed in the 1980s.

“People really loved the ribs back then and, fortunately, they still do,” says Paul.

Celebrity Friends
Twin Anchors comprises a bar that seats 20 people, a restaurant that seats 70 people and, in warmer months, an outdoor patio that seats 24 people. Every night locals from Chicago and the suburbs, and visitors from around the world fill the restaurant and tavern to capacity.

“We don’t take reservations, and on weekends it’s common to see folks settling in at the bar for an hour or so as they wait for tables to open up and their names to be called,” says Paul.

Twin Anchors’ roster of customers includes innumerable celebrities, including talk show host Conan O’Brien, comedian and actor John Belushi, and playwright David Mamet. Sinatra visited the restaurant and tavern on several occasions between the 1950s and 1980s.

“There’s just something about this place,” says Paul. “It’s very easy to imagine him feeling at home here.”

Paul recalls meeting Sinatra in 1981, when he was in town to perform at the ChicagoFest concert at Navy Pier. Sinatra ordered 60 slabs of ribs to share with his orchestra and crew, and invited the Tuzi family to watch the show from backstage. Paul describes the experience as “electric.”

In 1999, Bonnie Hunt chose Twin Anchors as the setting for “O’Reilly’s Italian Restaurant” in the romantic movie “Return to Me.” She co-wrote, directed and appeared in the film, and was familiar with the restaurant and tavern from her days at The Second City.

“She really wanted to film at Twin Anchors because she knew us and knew the place, and she thought it would be perfect,” says Paul.  “‘Return to Me’ turned out to be a wonderful little film that people really liked.”

More recently, Aaron Eckhart filmed a scene in which he angrily questioned a corrupt police official for “The Dark Knight,” the sequel to “Batman Begins,” at Twin Anchors.

“We have never actively marketed Twin Anchors to celebrities,” Paul says. “Anyone that finds out about it does so independently.”

Destination Twin Anchors
Before taking charge of the restaurant and tavern in the early 1990s, Paul, Mary Kay and Gina learned the business from the ground up.  Paul was 19 when their father purchased Twin Anchors, and he immediately began working in the kitchen. After graduating from DePaul University, he became Twin Anchors’ day manager and then one of its night mangers. Mary Kay, who was 16 at the time, began in the restaurant and tavern as a hostess. She also attended DePaul University and eventually became one of Twin Anchors’ bartenders.  Gina was only nine when their father purchased Twin Anchors. She began bussing tables once she entered high school and eventually became a bartender.

Today, customers will find Paul, Mary Kay or Gina in the restaurant every night of the week, managing a staff of approximately 45 employees – some of whom have worked at Twin Anchors for more then 20 years.

“Having dedicated owners and employees who care about the restaurant and for whom it’s a top priority to keep the business successfully operating has been important to our success throughout the years,” says Paul. “It helps us maintain consistency in our operations and get to know our clientele.”

While remaining true to its roots, the Tuzi family has adapted Twin Anchors to the times. Most notably, according to Paul, Twin Anchors has transformed during the past 30 years from primarily serving as a neighborhood tavern to serving as a restaurant.

“Twin Anchors is now a destination restaurant – a place to go for a really great slab of ribs – rather than just a place to go for a cold beer.”

In addition to serving the historical items on the menu – barbecue ribs, fried and barbecue chicken, steaks, and burgers – the Tuzi family has added grilled chicken, grilled fish and pulled pork sandwiches, a vegetarian sloppy joe, and a grilled shrimp skewer to Twin Anchors’ offerings. They also now offer valet parking and accept credit cards.

Perhaps the most prominent change is the “Positively No Dancing” sign that the Tuzi family hung up in Twin Anchors in 1980.

“People were coming in, playing disco on the jukebox and dancing the Hustle,” says Paul. “They would knock into waitresses carrying beers or plates of ribs, and create a big mess.”

According to Paul, for the most part, people stopped dancing once the sign went up. Today, he says, “Positively No Dancing,” which the Tuzi family recently trademarked, has become an unofficial slogan for the restaurant.

“People sometimes come in and take pictures of themselves dancing in front of the sign,” he says. “It’s all part of the memories that are created here. When you’re in the restaurant business, you’re in the business of creating memories.”

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Get Into The Sauce at Twin Anchors
An Old Haunt of Sinatra's, Chicago Landmark Restaurant Remains As Zesty As Ever
by Mike Thomas

Published September 23, 2007

When "The Dark Knight" Batman flick filmed in Chicago this summer, it made its mark all over town. Most famously, the old Brach's candy factory got blown to smithereens. Fortunately, Twin Anchors restaurant and tavern was spared a similar fate.

But it didn't escape unscathed.

During a day of shooting at the legendary Old Town rib valhalla and former Prohibition-era speakeasy, actor Aaron Eckhart (as the villain Two-Face) repeatedly slammed down his shot glass on Anchors' vintage Weiss-Sontag bar, leaving circular indentations. And the proprietors aren't about to buff them out.

"It's another story," says Paul Tuzi, who co-owns the place with his sisters Mary Kay Cimarusti and Gina Manrique. Their late father, a straight-talking onetime insurance broker named Phil Tuzi, bought Anchors back in 1978.

Steeped in stories and lauded by legions of loyalists for its fall-off-the-bone baby backs and secret-recipe "Zesty" sauce, the joint that used to serve Sinatra celebrated its 75th anniversary last Thursday with an invite-only charity bash benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Housed in a tenant-occupied building constructed in 1881, Anchors has long been one of Chicago's most trafficked taverns, beloved by locals and out-of-towners alike. Among the most devoted patrons, it's a bastion of sorts. "I like to tell people only if I deem them worthy of admittance that it reminds me of a wondrous wood-paneled basement rec-room, circa 1965, where everything smells good and sounds happy and feels reassuring," Chicago author and Anchors veteran Bill Zehme writes in his online ode "My Anchors, My Angst" (at www.twinanchorsribs.com).

Others, too, feel the love.

"I'm an old country boy from Iowa," says 34-year-old Grant Graff on a moderately hopping Monday night, "so it's like going back to a place at home." Graff lives three houses away and has been bellying up for more than a decade. "It's a comfortable neighborhood joint," he says. "They haven't tried to get too big."

Seventy-year-old Patrick McKenna, an Anchors regular since 1956, agrees. "You're not pushed, you're not shoved, you're not insulted," he says, sipping a vodka rocks at the bar. "You're only welcomed, and I like that."

While its slow-cooked ribs draw lots of attention, they're merely part of Anchors' allure. Over the decades, true neighborhood taverns the kind where posing is scarce, where strangers converse, where at least some of the staffers know your name and your drink and maybe even your favorite song have died off in droves. Anchors, though, has managed to retain some of that old-time flavor.

As classic corner taverns go, "a large part of their character is the part that's not bricks and mortar the intangible, the atmosphere," says Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson. "So it's hard to find a place that can survive over the years with both intact, and Twin Anchors certainly is one of the few that managed to make it through."

In Anchors' early days, many of the customers were boating types from the Belmont and Monroe Harbor yacht clubs and acquaintances of co-founder and Chicago sailing man Herb Eldean, who thought up the maritime handle. His business partner, Bob Walters, eventually bought him out.

During the 1950s and 60s, as Old Town saw an exodus of aging residents and an influx of younger artists who began renovating some of the area's dilapidated dwellings, Anchors' core constituency began to shift. Later on, options traders and other monied 20somethings began settling in, blowing copious dough on dining out. Anchors benefited from their free-spending ways.

With a growing reputation came celebrity adulation. Over the years, many Hollywood players (lots with Chicago roots) have made Anchors pilgrimages Joan Cusack, David Mamet and Chris O'Donnell among them. Before his untimely death in 1998, Chris Farley was a fan. And decades back, when he lived nearby, William Peterson of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" fame frequently planted himself on a bar stool for beers and ballgames.

In 1979, while "The Blues Brothers" was filming in town, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi wandered in for dinner wearing their now-iconic costumes: dark suits and skinny ties, but no shades. Tuzi also remembers when a certain famous actor dropped his cocaine spoon on the floor beneath a booth and left without realizing it.

The restaurant's most significant brush with showbiz came in the summer of 1999, when director and former Second City member Bonnie Hunt featured Anchors prominently in her romantic dramedy "Return to Me."

Of all the notables to darken Anchors' double doors, however, Frank Sinatra has always been and will always be its most lauded luminary. During Chicago stays in the '50s, '60s and '70s, he held court and nursed his Jack Daniel's in a booth by the side exit. Thereafter, during ChicagoFest in the early '80s, he ordered up scores of slabs for his orchestra that were grilled on-site. Thanks to wall photos and jukebox tunes, his ring-a-ding-dinging spirit lives on.

But stars do not a true Chicago tavern make. Notwithstanding a valid liquor license and its prime placement on a bucolic block, comfort and familiarity have long been keys to Anchors' success. Although it's no longer the strictly local corner tap it once was, there's been no drastic aesthetic transformation. Sure, the shufflebowl machine and a small bandstand are gone. The kitchen was redone and the restroom got a face-lift. The boxy televisions gave way to flat screens and the jukebox now links to cyberspace.

Even so, on the whole, Anchors looks much like it once did. Same red Formica tables in back. Same leatheresque booths transplanted from the shuttered Henrici's restaurant on Randolph up front. Same hand-drawn "Positively No Dancing!" sign in conspicuous view at center. Same arm-worn and now movie-marred bar along the side. And, of course, there's the secret sauce.

Like an old lover who seems so glad to see you like, in fact, Twin Anchors herself it's still zesty after all these years.

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Pearl of Old Town
For 75 Years, Twin Anchors Has Dished Out World-Class BBQ and Good Times
by Rick Kogan

Published August 26, 2007

Gail Leslie, a real estate agent who lives in California, walked into Twin Anchors recently, turned to the right and, with expressions of shock and disappointment, said loudly, "The bowling game! Where's the shuffle bowling game?"

"Well," said a bourbon-drinking man leaning on the bar. "They took that out, oh, 20 years ago."

"That's not fair," said Leslie. "I was just in Butch McGuire's and asked for Butch, and the bartender started to cry and told me Butch died last year."

Of course, it was unreasonable for her to expect things not to change, especially since she has spent the last 25 years far from her old local haunts. But she stayed for a good long time at Twin Anchors with her niece and cute little grandniece, and they all had something to drink and good conversations and they got some ribs to go. Leslie, no longer troubled by change, said she would be back.

The disappearance of a bowling game (they could no longer find parts to repair it), cannot diminish the appeal of this venerable place. Yes, the crowd looks younger than one might remember. Yes, there are a few more healthy items on the menu, in addition to the renowned baby back ribs. And there are many more celebrated faces in frames on the walls.

But Twin Anchors remains a comforting landmark in a city that often seems intent on erasing parts of its past for the sake of trendy pleasures and the benefit of checkbook-wielding developers.

It started its life in 1910 as a tavern on the southeast corner of Sedgwick and Eugenie Streets in the heart of Old Town, and then, during those misbegotten days of enforcedsort ofnational abstinence, a speakeasy.

Bob Walters and Herb Eldean, both members of the Chicago Yacht Club (Eldean was the Monroe Harbor master), bought the place in 1932, gave it its nautical name and transformed it into a restaurant, mostly because Herb's wife liked to cook and was good at it. It was purchased in 1978 by Philip Tuzi, a born host and a man called the "Toots Shor of Old Town" by the writer and ardent Twin Anchors regular Bill Zehme.

"I love no place quite like I love this place. It is everything Chicago is supposed to be: familiar, old, neighborhoody, friendly...," wrote Zehme, and though he is no longer a participant in the boozing game, he remains a frequent visitor. Indeed, he will wear a tuxedo when he hosts the place's 75th anniversary benefit party next month.

After Phil died, his kids took over and, on any night, you might find Paul Tuzi and his sisters, Mary Kay Cimarusti and Gina Manrique, tending to customers and to the legacy. They love to tell and hear stories about their place, and here is one:

Some years ago David Mamet was back in his hometown and found himself just wandering around with his wife, Rebecca Pidgeon. He was telling her about his memories of dinners with his late father at a neighborhood saloon that served great ribs.

"And there it was," said Mamet. "Like magic."

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Bonnie Hunt's Dining Haunts Are Worth Treasuring
by Chris McNamara

Published May 4, 2007 

It's a bit intimidating, being referred to as one of Chicago's treasures. But Bonnie Hunt handles that label with the self-effacing charm that has transported her from the corner of Addison and Austin to Hollywood and stardom.

"I'm not picky," she says when asked about her eating habits. "And I think my figure suggests that."

Hunt appears at the Chicago History Museum on Wednesday as part of Chicago Treasures, a series of conversations moderated by Chicago Public Radio's Steve Edwards that "spotlights Chicagoans whose work has defined the city, while the city has defined their work."

And those audiences have to eat, so we spoke with the actress, who recently voiced "Sally Carrera" in the animated blockbuster "Cars," about teenage jobs at Dairy Queen, filming a movie in a rib joint and finding the best flapjacks on the Northwest side.

"Chicago has definitely played a part in my character development," says Hunt, who splits her time between homes in Los Angeles and the Edgebrook neighborhood locally. "I love the essence of the city, the personalities of the people, the hard-working spirit that you need to get through the winters. And every neighborhood has its great restaurants and the local hot-dog stand."

A teenage Hunt dressed franks at Dogs & Suds, formerly located at Belmont and Austin. And she operated the soft-serve machines at Dairy Queen (still at 5636 W. Irving Park Rd.), where friends would get extra brownies in their hot fudge brownie delights.

When asked about where she now eats when back in her hometown, it becomes clear that her tastes were formed while performing at Second City in the late '80s. She rattles off a number of Old Town eateries within walking distance of the Chicago History Museum. (Leave it to a local girl, right?)

"It's hard to pick one [favorite spot]," says Hunt. "Restaurants in Chicago are seldom disappointing."

Topo Gigio (1516 N. Wells St., 312-266-9355) is a regular stop, where Hunt has the fusilli alla Topo Gigio, which she complements with a glass of red wine.

Just north on Wells, a block past Second City, is Nookies (1746 N. Wells St., 312-337-2454), where Hunt's goofy working hours often prompted her to order breakfasts in the evening. "I like regular meals, and restaurants that will adapt things to your taste," she says. "Not a place where they roll their eyes if you want the sauce on the side."

Of course, you can't talk Bonnie Hunt and restaurants without Twin Anchors (1655 N. Sedgwick St., 312-266-1616), the primary location for the 2000 film "Return to Me," written and directed by Hunt, who also acted alongside David Duchovny and Minnie Driver.

"I wrote Twin Anchors into the story without knowing if they'd be willing to participate," she says. "But they let me film there and they treated me like family."

Also a favorite haunt of Frank Sinatra, Twin Anchors still draws a crowd, so be prepared to wait for a table. The ribs ($19.95) are lean, meaty and fall-off-the bone tender. They're served with a crock of zesty sauce and a mound of crispy onion rings.

Hunt's last recommendation sounds delicious, but hard for fans to follow: She makes sure to eat the thin pancakes flapjacks she calls them served by Mom in her childhood home.

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Great American Cities: Chicago
by Alan Solomon

Published May 21, 2006

The essential experience: A baseball game in Wrigley Field. The place has been poked, prodded and illuminated over the yearsthe bleachers were expanded last winter in the latest bit of surgerybut Wrigley is still Wrigley, the vines are still that fluffy green, and there's nothing quite as uniquely Chicago. Too bad about the home team.

But don't miss: The Art Institute. Even the most casual art fans among us delight in being eye-to-eye with Grant Wood's "American Gothic" or close enough to see all the little dabs of light in Georges Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte." And as long as you're right there: Ease over to Millennium Park and marvel at "The Bean." (You'll know it when you see it.)

Local delicacy: Forget the pizza. That's marketing. The true favorite is the Chicago hot dog, kosher-style, boiled, the skin popping to the bite, topped with yellow mustard, bright pickle relish, chopped onions, little sport peppers and a slice of tomato on a steamed poppyseed bun. No ketchup, no chili, and char-dogs are an abomination.

Best big-bucks restaurant: The Big Two: Charlie Trotter's and Tru, with longtime favorites Everest and Spiaggia battling relative newcomer Alinea for a spot in the show-pool. Trotter's and Alinea are strictly for serious foodies who adore esoterica; the others (Tru is high-concept comfort food, Everest nods to French, Spiaggia is Italian) are merely wonderful.

Iconic neighborhood favorite: Twin Anchors. Chicago has no definitive barbecue style, but the cut of choice is baby back ribs, and this place, essentially a bar with food in the city's Old Town neighborhood, serves 'em up with energy and Sinatra, who is said to have been a fan.

The perfect Chicago walk: Start at Oak Street Beach, at the north end of Michigan Avenue's shopping strip, and enjoy the scenery along Lake Michigan north a couple of miles to Fullerton Beach. Inland, right there, is Lincoln Park Zoo. Stroll the grounds (don't miss the Great Apes), exit anywhere, then walk back through the park to the ballfields, where, hopefully, you can watch Chicago-style softball (16-inch, no gloves). Cross Lake Shore Drive on the pedestrian bridge and return along the lake. You can't get lost: The lake is always east.

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Twin Anchors Says 'Ahoy' to O'Brien
by Terry Armour

Published May 14, 2006

Speaking of Conan O'Brien (aren't we all?), the folks over at Twin Anchors, 1655 N. Sedgwick St., are sad to see him leave. O'Brien took a liking to the place; he sent 20 orders of ribs and 5 orders of barbecued chicken to the Chicago Theatre for his staff and dined there himself.

O'Brien, who celebrated his birthday there last month, also wore a "Twin Anchors" T-shirt during various television interviews. "Usually when you give somebody a T-shirt, you think it might end up at the bottom of the closet," said Gina Manrique, one of the owners of the tavern. "We were pleasantly surprised to see him wearing it on TV."

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Conan Calling
O'Brien Relives His Windy City Past
by Matt McGuire

Published May 8, 2006

Conan O'Brien remembers crying during the summer of 1988, the summer he spent living across the street from Wrigley Field.

"Crying the way someone would cry if their cat was crushed by a steamroller," he recalled during a recent phone call with metromix.

It was the summer the Cubs installed lights at Wrigley Field, though O'Brien wasn't crying because the city's loveable losers were breaking with Wrigley's daytime tradition and entering the twilight zone.

He wasn't crying because the Writer's Guild of America was in the middle of a 153-day strike, which meant O'Brien wasn't collecting a check from NBC, where he worked as a writer for "Saturday Night Live."

And most of all, he wasn't crying because the sketch-comedy show he co-wrote with fellow "SNL" writers Robert Smigel and Bob Odenkirk "Happy Happy Good Show," which played at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre was getting poor reviews. ("Most of the skits in this show fall flat, underdeveloped and incomplete," wrote a Tribune reviewer.)

O'Brien was crying because he couldn't take the heat. Literally.

"It was so hot that summer," O'Brien said, "I had a '72 Plymouth Valiant; that was my car, and it had air conditioning. There was no air conditioning in the apartment. [O'Brien's roommate and future 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' co-star] Jeff Garlin had air conditioning in his room. But my room had no windows. It was so hot in that room that I remember weeping."

"One night I walked down the stairs in my underwear gym shorts and no shirt, and climbed into my '72 Plymouth Valiant and turned on the car and just sat there with the engine running and the air conditioning on. I think it looked like I was trying to commit suicide."

"My roommates may have called the police. 'It looks like he's had it! He's running a hose into the car!'" O'Brien joked.

The writer's strike ended in August, and O'Brien left town shortly thereafter. Five years later, at the age of 30, O'Brien took over David Letterman's old NBC time slot.

Now, almost two decades after his last extended run in Chicago, O'Brien is returning as a king for a four-night run at the Chicago Theatre. He recently called us from his ninth-floor office at 30 Rockefeller Center and told us why.

Why Chicago?
Hawaii was too expensive. [Laughs] No, Chicago has been looming for us for a long time. We don't travel the show that much because it's incredibly expensive, which no one thinks about. They always think: "What do you mean? You jusy come to town and dance around like a chimp. You do that in New York. What could the difference be?"

We went and saw the Chicago Theatre a few months ago, and I think it's the nicest theater I've ever seen. I can't wait to ruin it with our nacho cheese bomb. I didn't tell you about that bit? A 30-kiloton nacho cheese bomb will be detonated the first night, shooting hot nacho cheese over the run entire city. I can't wait.

Several of your writers are from Chicago. Should we expect their best material for their triumphant return?
You know, I would have thought so, but no. [Laughs] They're all saying: "We're going to Potbelly's. Then we're going to the Twin Anchors." And I'm saying, but, c'mon, write something! Nah, really though, everyone's excited about it, but our Chicago guys are on their best behavior. So the minute they knew it was real, they've been coming up with funny ideas, all of which I've turned down. [Laughs]

Plan to hit the town after the shows?
I'm going to every strip club you've got. I'll be up there with the strippers. My goal while I'm in Chicago is do do the shows, make them as good as I can make them, but then I'm really going to make an effort to be out and around; I want crazy sightings of me in Chicago doing weird things.

I want people calling your paper saying, "I'm telling you, the guy was naked on a bicycle that looked like it was made of beef jerky, and it looked like he had a mining helmet on." And you'll be all, "No, no." Then a minute later you'll get another call: "I saw him. He was in the Loop. Hr was wearing a loincloth made of ham. And he was firing a pellet gun wildly into the crowd and shrieking."

Seems like meat and nudity play pretty heavily into your plans.
It always does. That probably should tell you something.

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Classic Chicago Restaurants
The Ultimate Top 10
by Alice Van Housen

Published May 1, 2005

Fans of this quaint, tavern-style time warp tucked away on a residential Old Town street swear it's worth the wait for the succulent ribs (the eclectic jukebox helps pass the time, but there's "Positively No Dancing"). Done up in wood and nautical kitsch, the neighborhoody setting was used as the location for the film "Return To Me."

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101 Things To Do
Chicago Magazine

Published December 1, 2003

From glass blowing to blending perfume; from luxuriating in the grandest restaurant seats in the city to making friends in the tiniest dive; from basking in lava mud to bashing a golf ball — here's a thick portfolio of adventures and pleasures (for indoors and out, for the pampered and the pumped) to drive away the winter doldrums.

81. EAT RIBS WITH THE STARS, SORT OF
The ribs at Twin Anchors® are remarkable but the famous clientele is a draw, too. Drive the hostess crazy by requesting these seats:

  • Booth 5, a half-moon facing the bar near the beer taps, where Minnie Driver sat in the 2000 movie, Return To Me.
  • Booth 7, where Sinatra sat with his back against the wall.
  • Booth 5 again. When Belushi and Aykroyd were filming The Blues Brothers, they chowed down here. "They weren't actually eating with their sunglasses on, but they did have the suits on," says the owner, Paul Tuzi.
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Do It Your Way With a Night for Frankie
by Jim Distasio

Published November 14, 2003

Frank Sinatra may have been born in Hoboken, N.J., but Chicago ultimately became his kind of town.

So for a night of ring-a-ding, check out some of Chicago's living tributes to the Chairman of the Board.

Grab some ribs: Whenever he was in town, Sinatra would make it a priority to sample the ribs at Twin Anchors Restaurant and Tavern, 1655 N. Sedgwick St., Chicago.

The atmosphere is friendly, the prices are reasonable, and the decor in the neighborhood bar is modest. As an added treat, pictures of the Rat Pack and the Chicago skyline adorn the walls.

Twin Anchors' famous ribs top the menu and with good reason. The meat is so tender it practically falls off the bone, and the homemade zesty barbecue sauce gives the meal a tangy kick. The restaurant also serves up a nice selection of steaks and sandwiches.

There's only one catch: Twin Anchors fills up quickly on the weekends, so be prepared to wait for up to an hour at the bar for a table. But don't worry, the ribs and the endless crooning of Sinatra on the jukebox make the wait worthwhile.

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Bonnie Hunt Rolls Out The Welcome Mat In Chicago
The Comically Gifted Star of ABC's Life With Bonnie Shows Us Around Her Happenin Town
by Mark Seal

Published in American Way Magazine September 15, 2003

There's no doubt about the origins of Bonnie Hunt. All you have to is catch her sitcom, Life With Bonnie, where she juggles the roles of wife, mother, and host of the talk show Morning Chicago, and it's clear that she's from the Windy City. We asked her to tell us some of her favorite haunts and hangouts.

WHERE WOULD YOU SEND US ON A SATURDAY NIGHT? "I've been going to the Twin Anchors® for years. It's family owned and run. We were fortunate enough to film Return To Me at Twin Anchors®. It's a Chicago staple, a warm, cozy, always-packed bar with delicious barbecued ribs and burgers."

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Anchors Aweigh with Classic Ribs
by Pat Bruno

Published August 8, 2003

Twin Anchors has a wonderful history. Consider that it all began in 1932 at the corner of Sedgwick and Eugenie in Old Town (the speakeasy days for this building) and has rambled on through live music (a while back I received a letter from a woman who had a girlfriend who had a fling with the trumpet player who was playing in the band here circa 1940s), through a couple of movies ("Return to Me" with Minnie Driver), and hand-delivered ribs to big name movie stars.

One night I was sitting under a framed collage that included a selection of poker chips from Vegas casinos, a picture of the original Rat Pack, and a canceled check that looked to be payment for ribs delivered to the Chairman of the Board himself, Frank Sinatra.

Twin Anchors has taken it all in stride. The place never seems to lose its focus. It's a bar that serves a good drink and a restaurant that serves good food. Nothing more and nothing less, but in this case less continues to be more.

In the scheme of things, Twin Anchors is a lot more than food and drink. This place is definitely a Chicago institution, one that has taken its place in the culinary history of Chicago, along with other stalwarts such as Berghoff, Lou Mitchell's, Tufano's, the Pump Room and Gene & Georgetti.

Paul Tuzi, son of the late Phil Tuzi (he acquired the place in 1978) now runs Twin Anchors (along with a host of other siblings). The name? That is attributed to (according to legend), a seaman by the name of Bob Walters (he had twin sons).

And it seems that the reputation of Twin Anchors is not confined to Chicago alone. One night, while waiting for the valet to retrieve my car, I took note of a young couple standing on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. They were speaking French while looking at a map. I managed to figure out that they were looking for LaSalle Street, and then Ontario Street. In my fractured French, I got them headed in the right direction.

I don't know. If you came to Chicago from France, do you go to the Twin Anchors to eat ribs? You really should! I wish that my French had been good enough to ask them how they liked the ribs.

I like the ribs at Twin Anchors. I like them a lot. I used to live in the neighborhood, so I have been enjoying the ribs here for 20 years. It is said the recipe for the ribs was handed down from the Walters days. Truth or apocryphal, it doesn't matter. In the case of ribs, it is the enjoyment that occurs when teeth meet meat and taste buds tingle with that pleasing barbecue flavor.

At Twin Anchors it's the whole ribs and nothing but the ribs. No half slabs, no combo chicken and ribs. So eat the whole deal of take some home (I dare you). The babyback ribs here are roasted then seared on the grill. Timing is everything when doing ribs in this fashion. The kitchen has it down pat. The ribs are meaty, succulently sweet, tender (not falling off the bone, though) and delicious.

It seems that something new has been added since my last visit (a while ago). There is a choice of "original mild barbecue sauce" or "popular zesty sauce." Change does not come easy for me, but for the sake of the story I tried both sauces. I will stick with the original sauce, thank you. I lay the sauce on rather thick, dipping again and again into the ramekin. The sauce has a subtle sweetness with just a slight backtaste of vinegar, a Carolina kind of flavor, which works just fine for me. Ribs are priced at $19.95 and come with choice of potato (or onion rings), coleslaw, and outstanding dark rye bread.

Twin Anchors is more than ribs alone, though. I have, for example, found enjoyment in the New York Strip steak, a 12-ounce hunk of tender beef that was charbroiled and topped with a choice of grilled onions or garlic butter (go with the onions). The $16.95 price makes it a comfortable choice for those who don't want ribs. Choose the baked potato with the steak, because this is one fine potato (never mind that it comes wrapped in aluminum foil), a spud that has been baked to textural perfection. Scrape it right to the skinthe enjoyment is intense.

Sandwiches are an important part of the menu (and very reasonably priced, nothing higher than $8.75). One good idea would be the half-pound Anchor Burger (good beef, good flavor.) The kitchen has a tendency to cook the burgers beyond requested temperature, so give your server a heads-up on this.

Nothing to worry about with the barbecued pork sandwich. A wealth of sweet pulled pork was blanketed in sauce (the zesty version, which works fine with this sandwich), tucked into a soft bun (don't squeeze too hard) and arranged with French fries (crinkle cut, not great, not awful).

Non-beef-eaters have a choice of grilled shrimp, chicken and a grilled fish of the day sandwich. Desserts are a grand total of one. It's a Henry Ford kind of thing: You can have any dessert you want, as long as it's cheesecake. I had the pecan cheesecake.

Try: barbecued baby back ribs, strip steak, barbecued pork sandwich, Anchor Burger

Tips: Two rooms. Bar and booths in front, tables in the back. Chicago posters and such are the atmosphere. Nothing covering the tables (this is a bar, after all). Service is as friendly as a puppy dog and as efficient as a time study engineer. Limited selection of beer and wine. Good for children (ribs, grilled cheese sandwich or burger). No reservations. Small alfresco dining area this time of year.

In a bite: Seventy years old and still going strong, this bar/saloon/restaurant is a comfortable as a pair of old shoes. The neighborhood around here has changed, but "the Anchor" weighs in pretty much the same, and that's a good thing. The ribs are the kicker here, and they are top-drawer.

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Eating It Up
It’s That Little Joint Around The Corner That Makes Chicago Our Kind of Town
by William Rice

Published February 2003

Old Town also draws me to feast on very good renditions of a couple of the city’s best-loved foods. At Twin Anchors®, an old, true neighborhood restaurant, the Cold War-vintage jukebox and selection of records appeal to customers who have been coming here since the ‘50s. The specialty is slabs of barbecued pork ribs, falling off the bone and served with a tomato-based sauce that’s more sweet than heat. (Many Chicago carnivores like their ribs and sauce that way.)

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Right On 'Cue
Our 20 Favorite Rib Joints Plus A Side of the Best Takeout
by Dennis Ray Wheaton with Joanne Trestrail

Published July 2002

Two linebacker-size guys at the next table know the drill: They attack their slabs with knife and fork, give whistle-clean bones a quick lick, and finish crisp onion rings. Then they split a third slab. This ancient Old Town corner tavern with a great jukebox is justly famous for falling-off-the-bone baby backs, slow cooked in the oven for seven hours till they boast a soft braised texture. Then they see ten minutes of grill time before hitting the table. It is tasty pork, quintessential North Side no-smoke baked meat with a slathering of the house Zesty Sauce.

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Cold Comfort
Comfort Foods
by Rebecca Cutler and Lucinda Hahn

Published February 2002

THE DISH: Chili
THE SPOT: Twin Anchors®
THE SCENE: Classic Old Town bar famous for baby back ribs
THE SKINNY: Diner-style cup brimming over with spicy ground beef and fresh beans; sides of fresh chopped onions, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
WHAT WOULD MOM SAY: "Good chili at that ribs place? Avoid it on a date. Otherwise, dig in."

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Old Favorites & Hot Spots
A Revolving List of Restaurants Recognized by Chicago for Special Features
by Jeff Ruby

Published December 2001

From Frank Sinatra to Minnie Driver, the files of celeb sightings at Twin Anchors® (1655 N. Sedgwick St.; 312-266-1616) are as thick as the barbecue sauce. Seems the Chairman had such a thing for the baby back ribs, he once requested 80 slabs for his entourage. And Driver, who filmed the romantic comedy Return To Me with David Duchovny at the quintessential neon tap house in 1999, somehow managed to resist the kitchen's charm for the entire five weeks of shooting. She's got more willpower than we do.

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Rib-Sticking Good
by Dean Richards

Published October 2001

People are as passionate about their ribs as they are about their politics. I'm no exception. Here are my picks for Chicago's best:

TWIN ANCHORS®: Famous as a former Sinatra hangout and as the setting for the 2000 movie Return To Me, Twin Anchors serves up huge slabs of perfectly cooked baby backs with a choice of mild or zesty sauce. Mild may as well be ketchup; go for the zesty and don't be put off by the wait for a table. It's always worth it.

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An Appreciation of the Zestiest Place Ever
by BILL ZEHME

Published May 5, 1999

Frank Sinatra loved the Twin Anchors®. Of course, he once made a movie with Gene Kelly called Anchors Aweigh in which they danced as men in sailor suits. He never dared to dance at the Anchors, though. Not even Frank. He saw the sign like we all see the sign, the one on the archway between the bar and the backroom that declares: POSITIVELY NO DANCING! Sinatra understood that was the law and he respected it. Me, I think I have danced once or twice there with a blond lady, while Sinatra sang on the jukebox—only because I was given permission, and only because nobody else was in the place. (You can dance, if you are lucky, only when the receipts of the night are being tallied and nobody cares what you do, as long as you get the hell out sooner than later.)  Like Sinatra, I have closed the Anchors more than a few times. It is one of my favorite things to do, by the way.

I love no place quite like I love this place.  It is everything Chicago is supposed to be: Familiar, old, neighborhoody, friendly, and kind of an open secret, but one that requires some protecting. I like to tell people—only if I deem them worthy of admittance—that it reminds me of a wondrous wood-paneled basement rec-room, circa 1965, where everything smells good and sounds happy and feels reassuring. The smell, of course, is all about the baby-backs and the Zesty sauce (ambrosia, that elixir). And much like the Zesty, there is a fine redness spilt onto the room—the booths, the tables, the stools, and the rosy cheek-blushes on the faces of certain regulars. I know Sinatra loved the red warmth of the place as well. When he started coming in, during the 60s, at the behest of his friend, the Chicago construction magnate Jack McHugh, his group would take over a long series of tables in the back, along the wall on the right, beyond the men’s room. (Sinatra, by the way, in case you didn’t know, loved doing bathroom business in urinals full of ice; he came to the right place, because melting ice at the Anchors, I will tell you, has always been one of my most primal thrills in all of life—like a rite of passage in the realm of male swagger.)  Now, there are pictures of him above the tables where he would sit; you can also see a photograph of him, installed on the right side of the bar, handing over an autographed Anchors menu to a happy fan. (As for the photographic installations on the left and right sides of the bar, well, it makes me blush—not that my pride doesn’t soar to see the jacket of my Sinatra book and other humbling images of humble self on display in the best place I know, but still.)  Anyway, Frank loved the night and he loved Chicago and he loved hiding out in a neighborhood joint (i.e., rib-joint) and he knew only the best of life and so, naturally, he loved this place.

Somehow I started hearing about Sinatra’s love for the Anchors in the late 70s, not long after he had stopped coming in (his years were advancing and it was easier to sit in the Pump Room, below his Ambassador East hotel room, before retiring for the night after a concert—although often he’d send over for delivery of the baby-backs to chew in accompaniment with his eternal Jack Daniel’s till dawn). My best friend since forever, Chris Pallotto, and I had heard about the Sinatra/Anchors legend and, as we were just out of college and looking for romance in this big-shouldered city, we figured it would be worth following Frank’s lead—never a bad instinct—and find this place near that Old Town church with the lighted clock-tower.  And so our lives changed for then and always. We made a pact that this was such a perfect place, such a glorious hideaway with all that Sinatra on the jukebox (chock full of vinyl forty-fives back then), that we were thereafter forbidden to even consider bringing a female person here, so as to keep it sacred club for boy’s life and boy’s lessons. (This policy lasted not long, alas—there was no better place to take a girl, it turned out.) But this was the very place where we would listen to Frank sing while discussing our problems with the Opposite Sex and asking ourselves always: What Would Frank Do? And so I will tell you that I would not have thought of writing The Way You Wear Your Hat if not for my young years of whining about swell or scary broads at the Anchors.

Besides whining to each other back then, Pallotto and I regularly whined to the proprietor, the pater familias behind the bar, the patriarch of this new and last Anchors regime—a very large man with a very large heart with very little patience for this couple of mopes who loved him, the Honorable and now, alas, Late Phil Tuzi.  Phil—the Toots Shorr of Old Town. He was that, anyway, for my money.  Speaking of which:  Pallotto, then a dental school student and part-time waiter at a lesser rib-joint now long gone, loved to over-tip (as did Sinatra, and eventually, me too). But we were punks and Phil would chastise Pallotto for showing up the regulars with his youthful largesse—often 60% over the bill, the beautiful moron.   Still, that is what the lasting whiffs of Sinatra’s presence could do to a guy.

But, Phil. We loved Phil. He liked to talk of real estate deals and of Florida, to which he eventually disappeared and where he eventually left the mortal plane. He was a gorgeous bowling ball of a man, with a moustache and appendages. And with great late-night wisdom to gruffly dispense our way. He was the kind of guy who would knock your heads together and tell you to wake up and to smell the coffee and to shut up and to get on with it. All guys need a barkeep like that, especially in the formative years. Not all guys were fortunate enough to have that particular guy do the job for them. We were. When Pallotto and I speak of Phil, we always chuckle long and hard and appreciatively. He taught us to be men. Like Sinatra. On the jukebox. Except Phil was behind the bar, giving the tips back.

With his fine offspring, the ones who rule the roost now, we like to say that Phil never bought us a round. Which is true. But, then again, he gave the tips back.  But if you do the math, I guess he never did buy us a round. Still, he is a hero. (And the lovely next generation has been more than kind.)

Anyway, there is no warmer bar stool in the city than the ones here. Former Chicagoan Bonnie Hunt knew that and brought David Duchovney and Minnie Driver and Carroll O’Connor into the place so as to re-name it O’Reilly’s Italian Restaurant, for the 2000 film Return to Me—it’s now on cable a lot and women really like it, enough said. The film production shut down the place Monday through Thursday all that summer before, and we regulars got more than annoyed, but if it would be a tribute to this astonishing place, then, okay. And then the film was released, and there was this gorgeous joint (slightly altered) on film, and there came the credits. And the words Twin Anchors® never appeared in the thank-you department. And how could that be?  I know Bonnie Hunt and she is good people. Oversight?  Even though most of the film was shot on these hallowed premises? It remains a mystery to this day. Except for the fact that I alluded to earlier. This place is an open-secret, but necessary to protect. Maybe Bonnie Hunt understands what must be understood. With the Twin Anchors®, you have to earn it.

        Ring-a-ding-ding.  And shhhhhhhhhhhhhh………
        Excelsior, Phil!
        (Whatever you ever told us—dammit—you were right.)
        Try the Zesty.

Do you have your own Twin Anchors memories to share? Click here!

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Anchors' Way
Ribs, Atmosphere Offer Restaurant's Guests a Bon Voyage
by Pat Bruno

Published March 20, 1998

"Positively No Dancing." At Twin Anchors those three words are hard to miss. They are printed on the back of the shirts worn by the servers, they are on signs posted around the room, they are printed on the menu. What's the big deal about "Positively No Dancing"? If you could see the way the good times roll here on a typical Friday or Saturday night, you would understand.

The history of the "no dancing" caveat goes something like this: When the jukebox, which features some of the swingingest songs Frank Sinatra ever recorded, cuts loose and people are stacked three deep at the bar waiting for a table, and the mood is as upbeat as the music, the urge to dance sweeps through the room (hey, better than fighting) like a restless wind. One couple might start the ball rolling, then another couple might join in, then another, and before you know it the bar area at Twin Anchors has turned into the Aragon Ballroom, circa 1950. It got to be a bit too much (especially for the waitresses trying to wade through with a tray of food), so this is a "Positively No Dancing" zone.

Dancing or not, Twin Anchors is still a trip to tavernsville in a time warp. During Prohibition there was a speakeasy here, and in 1932, a year before Prohibition ended, the Twin Anchors sign went up.

And while on the subject of math, the Twin Anchors answers the call regarding letters I receive asking for places that serve a good meal for $ 20 or less. No problem here. Even if you added a house salad or a dessert to the highest-priced entree (ribs), the tab will be under 20 bucks before tax and tip.

The big draw is and has been for as long as I can remember the ribs. "Our Famous Ribs" is one of the first headlines you will see on the menu, and below that you will read: "the world famous Twin Anchor baby back ribs, slow cooked, meaty and tender, basted with your choices of sauces. Try our popular zesty sauce or our original mild barbecue sauce $ 15.50."

Yes, these are good ribs. Are they the best around? No. But I would put Twin Anchors on my top-five-rib list. The meat is tender and sweet, falling just a bit away from the bone. I find the mild sauce a bit too mild, so my recommendation is to go with the zesty option, which packs a decent wallop. Rib dinner comes with a choice of potato (french fries are quite good) or onion rings (big, fat rings with good flavor).

All is not ribs alone at Twin Anchors, however. Another meat that works a bit of magic is the New York strip steak. A 12-ounce affair that is charbroiled (though a little too much on this occasion, when the kitchen took it from a requested medium-rare to medium) and, on request, served with garlic butter.

I have tucked away some fine chicken here. The chicken can be ordered fried or fried and then broiled and basted with barbecue sauce. Which way to go is a tough call, as they are both good, but I would have to declare the chicken basted with the zesty barbecue sauce the winner. Good bird, moist and tender, and just enough sauce to add a kick of zip.

The right side of the menu is totally a sandwich situation. I have tried four of six choices in the last year, and all were good (and priced right, coming in around the $ 5.50-$ 6 range), but the two I favor the most are the Cheese Anchor Burger, a weighty half-pounder that never seems to drift in quality, and the barbecue pork sandwich a rugged pile of pulled pork laced with the Anchor's zesty barbecue sauce. Yummy stuff. Sandwiches come with choice of potato or onion rings and cole slaw.

Dessert. Yes, singular. To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can have any dessert you want as long as it's cheesecake. It's there if you want it.

TRY: ribs, chicken, burger, pork sandwich

TIPS: The atmosphere is pure neighborhood tavern. A fine bar and some booths in the front room; tables in the back room. More than a few pictures of Frank Sinatra adorn the walls. Beer seems to be the drink of choice, but the hard stuff and wine are available. Servers are friendly, feisty and super-efficient. A limited number of reservations are taken for parties of six or more. This is a residential parking permit area, so valet service is recommended. Good for children.

IN A BITE: A friendly tavern that has been around for 66 years. It's mostly the ribs that tickle the fancy of customers and keep them coming back.