By Brittany DeVries
Maybe it is the relaxed, welcoming environment-lit candles, big booths, and old architecture. Maybe it is the friendly, helpful service standing to greet customers as they walk inside. It might be the extensive menu for every palette, or maybe it is the outstanding selection of bottled beers.
Whatever it is, downtown Fredericksburg’s Sammy T’s Restaurant, which was started by the late Samuel T. Emory, Jr. in 1980, keeps the crowds walking in, and for that matter, leaving with a smile.
Immediately, a server seats you at a large, comfortable booth that separates your party from the rest of the dining room’s patrons. For warm summer days, outdoor seating is also available, and around the side there is a separate dining room for customers who prefer a non-smoking environment.
Bill Hartig, a server and bartender at the restaurant, explained that the non-smoking section has become increasingly popular in recent years.
“The separate dining room is very unique,” Hartig said. “A couple of years ago, it was dead back there, but now its always the first to fill up.”
The menu is exhausting, filled to the brim with a variety of tasty dishes like tri-colored Cheese Tortellini, New Brunswick or Gazpacho soups, delicious Crab Cakes, many types of open-faced sandwich melts, and delectable desserts. For appetizers, be sure to try their homemade Tzaziki and “Chi-Chi’s” hummus dips with tortilla chips, veggies, or pita wedges ($3.95-8.95). The Vegetable Delight Soup is overflowing with fresh veggies, and the light Gazpacho is perfect for hot weather. All bowls of soup ($4.95) are served with rolls and butter.
The entrees and open-faced melts are the favorites on the menu, and all of the dishes are full of flavor, healthy, and varied. Popular entrees include the Camper’s Special, a bean and grain burger ($9.25), Vegetarian Lasagna ($8.95), tri-colored Cheese Tortellini with cream and fresh tomatoes ($9.00) and a Spinach Foldover made with their famous Chi-Chi’s hummus dip and mushrooms ($8.20). The sandwich melts are perfect for a lighter meal.
For the vegan or vegetarian diner, senior Kristin Astley agreed there is not a better-suiting restaurant for miles.
“It’s nice to have so many options for vegans and vegetarians,” Astley said. “It’s a great restaurant, a great place to go with friends on the weekends.”
The restaurant is popular with every age and type of person, filled with college students, large families with small children, young couples, and seniors who have been frequenting the establishment since before any of us were born.
For the beer and wine enthusiast, try Sammy T’s before going across the street to another bar.
Hartig, and fellow co-worker Mickey Wiesner, boasted that the restaurant has “one of the best bottled beer selections in town.” If you’re 21, it carries domestics like Blue Moon, Sam Adams, Budweiser, Pabst, and Sierra Nevada, but also imported, bottled selections like Dos Equis Amber, Grolsh, Lindeman’s Peach Lambic, Sam Smith’s, and Mariner. There is a good list of White and Red wines ranging from $4.50-6.00/glass, and also, the place has regularly a list of featured beers, like the Virginia-brewed Star Hill Jomo Ale.
Throughout the visit, the server was quick to bring out the food and answer any questions. When asked about the dessert, he recommended the Honey Oat Pie ($5.00), a gooey slice of warmed pie that is homemade by one of the waitresses. Another huge favorite is the delicious Apple Crisp ($5.75), served hot with vanilla ice cream.
Senior Caitlin Goldman had consistent praise for the restaurant in terms of its good food and hospitality.
“The food is delicious every time I’ve gone,” she said.
For the college students who are pinching pennies, Sammy T’s has healthy and tasty selections that are affordable, if not inexpensive. Paired with its great staff and unique, chill environment, this place is a must this weekend-for those who’ve never tried it, and those who have.