Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came. If you understand this reference, you’re our kind of people and Fran’s Filling Station is your kind of place.

The bar at Fran's Filling Station
The bar at Fran’s Filling Station

Just step in the door of Fran’s on a Friday night and you’re sure to feel the warm, welcoming vibe that Fran herself exudes. The smell of homemade meatballs meets you as you enter and, as we sat by the bar, we saw customer after customer greeted by Fran as if they were old friends. The restaurant is unpretentious and inviting, but the food is leaps and bounds beyond the food you’d expect from your local neighborhood hangout. Forget wings and tired club sandwiches; think Cornmeal Crusted Trout and Citrus and Soy-glazed Scottish Salmon with crafted cocktails (we suggest the Blackberry Mule).

After tasting her food, you’d think Fran has spent her life in the restaurant business; you’d never guess that Fran lived a former life as an attorney in D.C. She opened her first restaurant in Charlotte in 1994 and has had quite a second career in her culinary pursuits. Fran and her brother, Frank, are highly influential veterans of the in Charlotte food scene. He owns institutions such as YAFO Kitchen and Mama Ricotta’s.

Make sure you save room for dessert. The menu rotates, but every night boasts belly-pleasing favorites like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, New York Cheesecake and Lemon Raspberry Tartes.

If you think Fran’s isn’t the place to bring your family, think again. Fran’s offers kids eat free nights on Monday and Tuesday. Get one free kids entree with the purchase of an adult entree in the Tap Room (the back part of the restaurant with TVs).