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.