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Good bang for the buck at The Friendly Tap

PLANO – This might be the most nontraditional way I have ever started a Mystery Diner review, but I have to say that this restaurant honestly had me at its website home page when I was trying to figure out where my next review was coming from.

On this bar and restaurant’s home page, there is a caption at the top of the page that made me guffaw:

“Where friends gather to verbally abuse each other.”

The Friendly Tap, 14 N. Center St., you now have my attention – and not just because of your website design.

According to the bar’s website, The Friendly Tap has been serving Plano and its surrounding area since 1983. They have weekday specials, including taco day on Wednesdays and fish fry Friday; we happened to go on a Thursday, when they have $1.50 bottled beer.

Now I, for one, love me a good bar. I also love me some good (and inexpensive!) bar food and great service to go with that affordable and good food, and this establishment definitely has that.

To start, my guest and I decided to get a couple of appetizers: The pickle fries or chips (during this particular experience, they were fries, but they are listed on the menu as chips) and the “mac and jack,” or the macaroni and cheese bites made with pepper jack cheese.

My guest said they really liked the mac and jack appetizer and said there wasn’t too much of a kick with the pepper jack cheese. Harkening back to our early college days, I also agreed with them that these were some of the creamier mac and cheese bites we’ve eaten to date.

The pickle fries were great, in my opinion – just the right amount of crisp, crunchy and juicy. I also have a habit of burning myself when taking a bite out of any form of deep-fried pickle, and for once, this plate of pickle fries were not so hot where that happened, despite my lack of patience and hanger (hunger + anger, just as a reminder to the folks back home).

I ordered the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich for my main course, which came with ridged chips. The bacon on the sandwich was at a good crispy level and, while it might be a problem at other places, the sandwich was not at all soggy with the bread being toasted enough to withstand the mayonnaise and contents within the sandwich. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of food for one person and I finished the meal satisfied overall.

For their main meal, my guest ordered the grilled chicken sandwich. Our waitress and bartender told us that the sandwich typically comes plain and comes with whatever the customer may want on it, and my guest opted for tomato, lettuce, onion and mayonnaise on theirs.

My guest said the grilled chicken sandwich was cooked well. They said it wasn’t dry and just the right amount of juicy. They also said the fries that came with the sandwich were solid, and not bad at all.

One thing that is also worth mentioning is that, even though there is a limited tap beer selection (Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite), you could get a 10-ounce glass for $1 and a frosted 16-ounce mug for $1.50 every day. And, heads up to my allergen-conscious peeps out there: The Friendly Tap uses soybean oil in their fryers.

My guest and I thought that this was a great value place, where we got solid food and drinks for more than reasonable prices. Even with tip, I don’t think we broke $35 between the two of us.

Overall, we can definitely see ourselves coming back for a drink or two and dinner sometime very soon and would recommend the experience to others.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic, but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.

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