A much loved, quintessential South End restaurant with a huge gay following and some of the tastiest contemporary American fare (with some Asian influences) in town, the Franklin Cafe
(278 Shawmut Ave.
, 617-350-0010) is an intimate bar and grill along increasingly trendy Shawmut Avenue. It's one of the few full-service restaurants in Boston where you can dine afternoon midnight (the full menu is served til 1:30 a.m., nightly!), and the sophisticated little bar here is a terrific spot to mingle with cute guys and gals from the neighborhood. The menu changes seasonally, but typically soul-warming Franklin Cafe fare includes roasted butternut-squash soup, soy-marinated chicken livers with bacon-horseradish-fennel salad, prune-glazed pork tenderloin, and roasted turkey meatloaf with spiced-fig gravy and chive-mashed potatoes. The restaurant is a short walk from such popular gay bars as the Eagle and Fritz
, and it's not far from other excellent restaurants in the South End, such as Delux, South End Buttery, and Joe V's. There's also a branch of the Franklin Cafe on the North Shore's Cape Ann, in the seaside community of Gloucester, at 118 Main Street