A map of the best four eateries within half a mile of Franklin. Students and staff have a variety of options when it comes to restaurants, but some are better than others. Graphic by Oscar Ponteri

The Franklin High School community is graced with–among other things–a plethora of nearby eateries; but despite these various options, many staff and students frequent the same places time and again. In our final food review ever, my friends and I decided to stay close to home and search out the four most underrated nearby restaurants that the Franklin community can easily access during their lunch break or after school. The team consisted of veteran tasters, seniors Lev Michaels (resident meat critic) and Donagh Palmer, in addition to rookie reviewer Oskar Fraser (12). Together, we explored eateries we had rarely heard of or visited, evaluating the distance from Franklin, speed of service, atmosphere, and of course, food of each location. Here are our favorites in no particular order:

  1. Matt’s BBQ Tacos: 8 minute walk

A roughly eight minute walk from Franklin, Matt’s BBQ Tacos is located on the east side of 50th Avenue between Division and Lincoln Streets. The food cart is part of a hidden pod of five food carts slightly further off the beaten path than the popular 50th and Division pod. Matt’s BBQ shines among the carts as a tasty alternative to the typical taco. 

We ordered their brisket taco and a pulled pork taco for a total of $11. Both were topped with pickled red onions and guacamole, a delicious combination and both the pulled pork and brisket were deliciously flavorful and well cooked. “The meat was top tier,” said barbeque boy Lev. “The taco as a whole was solid, but I wish they just had a platter of meat I could eat off of.” The light flour tortillas were another highlight. “They taste house made,” remarked Donagh. “[Matt’s BBQ Tacos is] simple but solid … it’s classic,” said a satisfied Oskar. The unique concept of a BBQ taco and its quality execution made for an experience we recommend to the Franklin community and beyond.

The food cart pod boasts comfortable and covered seating. In addition, Matt’s BBQ Tacos has a sign indicating the estimated wait time for food, a helpful feature for students visiting on their lunch break. When we visited, the sign said ten minutes, but we received our food in about seven. If Matt’s is busy, there are plenty of other carts to try!

  1. Pho MeKha: 4 minute walk

Pho MeKha stood out to our tasting group as a scrumptious, quick, sit down lunch option for Franklin students. Located on the south side of Division between 49th and 50th Avenue, the Vietnamese spot is almost hidden among other storefronts and offers a quieter alternative to nearby spots that are incredibly busy during lunch hours. 

We ordered the Pho Ga (pho with chicken) for $13.95, which was made in just five minutes. While Oskar attempted to document our table by taking a 3-D photo for unknown reasons, we slurped down our pho in record speed. The chicken was tender, the broth was well seasoned, and the toppings were perfect. “I don’t get pho that often, but the broth was really good, and everything else was solid,” said Donagh. While the four of us had small portions, we believed the dish could be shared among two. Passionate poultry president Lev ordered the banh mi and thoroughly enjoyed it. “The shredded meat was incredible; the ingredients tasted fresh and I would be excited to order it again,” he said. 

You can order to-go, but we recommend that if you are ordering pho, you stay for the meal. Patrons order at the counter, but sitting in their brick and mortar restaurant was refreshing, and we enjoyed slowing down to eat our meal. Pho MeKha would be a great place to take a date, friends, or family.

  1. Smart Donkey: 9 minute walk

Smart Donkey, a Mexican restaurant located on 50th and Powell, provides an alternative to Franklin favorite, Los Gorditos. We have nothing against Gorditos, but in an effort to branch out from well-known eateries, we visited Smart Donkey and were not disappointed. While it may be a bit of a trek, the tin shack restaurant provides solid options for anyone seeking a tasty burrito. 

We ordered the Al Pastor burrito with pork marinated in guajillo and chile paste and cooked with pineapple for $15. “The meat had a very nice edge to it and all the ingredients worked together well,” said carne connoisseur Lev. “No taste was overbearing.” He had been to Smart Donkey several times and noted its reliability. “It’s always satisfactory; I’m a big fan of their carne asada, which is always juicy and perfectly seasoned,” he said. Oskar enjoyed the guacamole. Unlike at Los Gorditos, our tasters were pleasantly surprised when the amply stuffed burrito did not fall apart as they ate. 

Seemingly outshined by its neighbor Super Deluxe, we were impressed by how much we enjoyed Smart Donkey. The restaurant has a variety of seating options and quick enough service (it took 12 minutes to receive our order). You may have to hurry back to school if you’re going to Smart Donkey during lunch, but it would be worth the reward of a delicious meal that is sure to make classmates jealous. 

  1. Steakadelphia: 10 minute walk

It’s all in the name; Steakadelphia is known for their Philadelphia style cheese steak sandwiches, but it’s rarely frequented by Franklin students. On the corner of 60th and Powell, the restaurant is out of the way for many students and staff. The walk is about ten minutes, and when we walked in during lunch, there was no one in line. We waited roughly ten minutes for our cheesesteak before trekking back to Franklin. 

We ordered the classic; a large Philly Cheesesteak with white American cheese, mayo, onions and ‘Steakadelphia sauce’ for $13.75. Steakadelphia also offers free toppings including mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, pickles and more. We topped our sandwich with pepperoncini for a little kick. While beef muncher Lev assessed the tenderness of the Philly style shredded steak, Donagh cited his opinion: “The cheese and meat blended perfectly along with the sauces.” He did note that the sandwich was warm and would best be enjoyed on a cold day. Steak fanatic Lev described the meat as “tender” and remarked that the pepperoncini added the “perfect spice.” Oskar did not have the chance to try the sandwich but we imagine he would’ve said something boring like, “Hmm, I think it’s good,” if he had been given a bite. 

While the tasting team was rather tired at this point in our journey, we were thoroughly satisfied by Steakadelphia. We wish it was just a few blocks closer, but it is certainly a tasty option for anyone who can hold a brisk walk! 

On behalf of myself, Oskar, Lev, and Donagh, we hope this article will inspire you to try a new lunch spot, and explore all that our neighborhood has to offer. My mission as a writer on The Franklin Post has always been to inform and engage our amazing community. In my last article before graduation, I thought it only right to give back to you, the reader, by stuffing my friend’s and my faces with food so we could tell you the best eateries within half a mile of Franklin.