Sammy's Family Restaurant
Sammy's Family Restaurant in Toronto is a no-frills diner known for its all-day breakfast and affordable dinner options.
The cozy restaurant is tucked away in an otherwise quiet strip mall. You'd be forgiven for assuming that seating is limited: from the outside, Sammy's looks quite small.
But despite its unassuming exterior, Sammy's is a large space with an earthy colour palette, comfortable booths, and plenty of decorative plants.
Sammy's is also very busy. During my recent visit, the dining room was packed. Parties of four (or more) laughed and ate, while wait staff scurried in and out of the kitchen.
According to our server, Lynn, who spoke with us while tending to the other tables, this level of activity is typical. More than half of the restaurant's patrons are regulars and many are quite dedicated.
Lynn also mentioned that most of these customers are seniors. She joked that different groups of retirees — firefighters, TTC workers, and so on — visit on each day of the week.
This comes as no surprise, considering how long the diner has been around. Though previously located at Pape and O'Connor, Sammy's has occupied its current location for more than a decade.
As a result, many locals have taken note of the restaurant's consistent quality and made it their go-to spot for weekly meals.
Sammy's menu is an eclectic mix of hearty entrees and old-fashioned diner fare. Sandwiches, salads, pastas, and steaks all come in large portions, with equally filling side dishes.
That said, the extensive breakfast menu is where Sammy's truly shines.
Lynn suggested the Mediterranean Omelette ($13.25), one of the diner's most popular dishes.
Served with Sammy's "famous" home fries, this light and fluffy omelette is made with spinach, feta, black olives, diced tomatoes, and mixed peppers.
The taste was milder than expected, but still made for an enjoyable meal.
If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Belgian Waffles with fresh fruit ($13.35) are the thing to get.
Kiwis, banana and strawberries are artfully arranged on top of an enormous waffle, then garnished with a hefty dollop of whipped cream.
New York Steak and Eggs ($17.95) pairs a 6-ounce strip steak, cooked any way you like it, with your choice of eggs.
I recommend getting a well done steak with over easy eggs. Not only is the texture contrast phenomenal, the runny egg yolk also makes a great dip for your home fries.
Like all main dishes, the fresh Baby Beef Liver ($14.85) comes with salad, mixed vegetables, and a slice of garlic bread.
Though brown gravy and sauteed onions do most of the heavy lifting, flavour-wise the meat itself is still deliciously tender.
While liver has long been a punchline on sitcoms like Happy Days, Lynn often recommends this dish to new customers. Of the hundreds of guests who have followed her advice, she claims that only two came to regret it.
I was neither dazzled nor disgusted by the dish, but I was glad to see that its bad reputation was undeserved.
With its bustling atmosphere and mom-and-pop shop charm, it's easy to see why Sammy's has captured the hearts of so many people.
It's not the fanciest establishment in the area, but then again, it doesn't need to be. As long as the food is warm and the company pleasant, Sammy's will continue to provide.
Sammy's Family Restaurant is located at 639 McCowan Rd.