My wife and I have been big fans of Sammy’s Pancake House all the way back to when they were located on Duncan Road. When they moved to their current location on North Mattis, I questioned if that was a wise move. Turns out, I was dead wrong.

Sammy’s has flourished to the point where they needed to expand to accommodate their loyal customers. I don’t recall going to Sammy’s — or driving by — when it wasn’t close to capacity. There is a good reason it is so popular: Sammy’s has consistent quality, generous portions, and is priced reasonably. 


Let’s talk about some underrated details I love about Sammy’s.

On a white speckled diner table, there are two small glasses of water and a large carafe of water. Photo by Carl Busch.Photo by Carl Busch.

Why on earth am I taking a picture of water? Each table gets a carafe of ice cold water. There is nothing worse than needing to wash down some delicious food and running out of water. That will not happen at Sammy’s. I’m guessing at least half of the patrons; myself included, had a really fun night and needed to hydrate.

Secondly, they have flavored creamer in addition to half-and-half for coffee. My wife can deal with half-and-half in a pinch, but she loves flavored creamer. Lastly, if you go to Sammy’s and see that the parking lot is packed, don’t be discouraged. They typically will be able to seat you right away or keep your wait to a minimum. They really hustle here. The floor show is an amazing dance of servers carrying trays with up to eight plates of food and — somehow — not colliding. Maybe Sammy’s has some air traffic controllers helping out.

Our server was Olga, and she was very good. She brought the aforementioned water and told us to take our time with the menu and order when we were ready. I love this because with the volume they handle, there can be a temptation to rush customers.

On a white speckled table, there is a circular plate with a pecan roll and a large dollop of butter. Photo by Carl Busch.Photo by Carl Busch.

We ordered a pecan roll ($3.95) to share and asked that it came out before our entrees. The pecan roll did come out first, and we were able to enjoy it before our entrees. I fear my pecan roll picture does not do it justice. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was served with a nice dollop of butter which absolutely made this a decadent treat. If you don’t like butter (not sure that is anybody), then order the oatmeal.

In a white dish, there was a skillet with four eggs, beef hash, and hashbrowns. Photo by Carl Busch.Photo by Carl Busch.

My go to order at Sammy’s is the Luck of the Irish skillet ($10.95). It came with two eggs any style (I recommend poached) on top of corned beef hash and Swiss cheese plus a choice of toast or pancakes. I love their marble rye toast, but I opted for the pancakes. The first thing I noticed when my food arrived was that there were not two eggs, but four!

The poached eggs gave the yolk a soft boiled consistency which I love: a little runny to fill in the cracks of the hash but not too runny. The hash had great flavor and was cooked well. The Swiss cheese was generous and melted to the point where it pulled like eating an awesome pizza. Every skillet I have had at Sammy’s has been great. I actually had a friend of mine complain about the four eggs once, and I was perplexed that he was complaining he got more food than he expected. So if you really don’t want four eggs, then make sure to tell your server. Or, order the oatmeal.

On a white plate, there is a pancake stack with a cup of syrup and a scoop of butter with a little dusting of powdered sugar. Photo by Carl Busch.Photo by Carl Busch.

The pancakes (no charge with the skillet) were nice and fluffy. Served with butter and topped with powdered sugar and syrup on the side, the pancakes took me back to the old school pancake houses of my youth. It was such a simple yet delectable dish. The provided syrup was more than enough to enjoy your pancakes, so I didn't have to worry about waiting for more syrup to finish. 

In an white dish, there are eggs benedict with a deep yellow hollandaise sauce and shredded hashbrowns. Photo by Carl Busch.Photo by Carl Busch.

My wife ordered the eggs benedict ($10.25). Sammy's dish came with two poached eggs (really four!) on an English muffin with Canadian bacon, topped with hollandaise sauce, served with steaming potatoes. This was really a treat. How can you go wrong with eggs, pork, potatoes, and muffins topped with a sauce made from egg yolks and butter? The answer is you can’t. My wife was generous to share a bite with me even though I would have taken her word on how good it was for this review. There was something really satisfying about that perfect bite with every single element on my fork. If you find hollandaise too rich for you, then order the oatmeal. 

From the parking lot on Mattis, the exterior of Sammy's Pancake House shows a few cars in the lot, a blue roof on the diner, and a large sign by the street. Photo by Carl Busch.Photo by Carl Busch.

Sammy’s has the sounds and feel of an old school diner with a roomy and modern convenience. The pace was nice and relaxed so diners can savor the food and experience. I don’t know if I have ever witnessed a staff work so hard to please their customers. Check that, I haven’t. They absolutely bust their ass, so please tip generously. Oatmeal jokes notwithstanding, Sammy’s is so damn good I’m sure their oatmeal is awesome. If you order it, please drop me a line and let me know how it is.

Sammy’s Pancake House
1206 N Mattis Ave
Champaign
6 a.m. to 3 p.m., daily

Top image by Carl Busch.