From its comfort food-inspired menu to the mix-matched decor, Sam's Grill in the Wynnewood Shopping Center offers locals a casual and inviting dining experience. Sam's large, varied menu, friendly service and reasonable pricing make it a good option for local diners—but I wouldn't make a special trip just to visit.
A good way to describe Sam's is that it's the kind of restaurant that acquires "regulars." The friendly, relaxed atmosphere is aided by its wait staff and the homey décor—which includes peach walls, comfy grey booths and an accent wall covered in cow print. A countertop separates the dining area from the kitchen, where patrons can look in to see the cooks at work. While inexpensive diners are often grimy, everything at Sam's was neat, orderly and very clean.
I visited Sam's during an off-hour, so a few waitresses were eating their lunch when I and my dining companion walked in the door. One of the waitresses greeted us and told us to sit wherever we liked. We chose one of the booths that line the storefront window and shortly thereafter were brought menus and asked for our drink orders, which arrived promptly.
Sam's has an extensive menu that includes a lot of what you would expect to find at a grill or diner, and then some. A number of items feature Sam's popular barbecue sauce, including barbecued wings, ribs, salmon and chicken. The menu also includes several burger options, grilled chicken in various forms, and hot and cold sandwiches, all of which will run you about $7 to $10.
Many of the options are traditional items — like tuna hoagies and turkey reubens — but some are a little more unique, such as the barbecue shrimp quesadillas or Thanksgiving-on-a-roll: a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich. Many of the sandwich options are made with turkey, which is cooked and sliced in-house, along with almost everything else on the menu.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the menu also features a number of vegetarian options and several healthier options for those watching their weight, including a veggie burger, grilled portabella burger ($8) and a number of salads ($8 to $14), all with generous portion sizes.
One downside to the menu is that Sam's entrees do not include side dishes, unless they are on the more expensive "From the Grill" menu ($17 to $20). However, the portion sizes are fairly filling: consuming just an entrée probably won't leave you ravenous, though hungrier diners may want to order a side or appetizer.
Our waitress helpfully told us that Sam's is known for its barbecue sauce and its burgers, so we ordered both, and a few other dishes to try. Our appetizer of barbecued chicken wings ($9) arrived within 10 minutes of ordering. The dish consisted of 12 wings covered in Sam's signature barbecue sauce, along with some bread. The barbecue sauce was mild: sweet and slightly tangy, but not spicy. The chicken was slightly blackened — just enough to give it a pleasant char grilled flavor. Because of the mildness of the barbecue sauce, I felt like the wings lacked a strong punch, but they were still flavorful and enjoyable, and ended up being my friend's favorite part of our meal.
Each of the three sandwiches we ordered — the bacon cheeseburger, the portabella burger and the Thanksgiving-on-a-roll — arrived about 10 minutes after our appetizer, and were flavorful and substantial. Across the board, they were well-cooked, relatively well-seasoned and thick, though each was served on slightly stale, subpar bread.
Our favorite of the three was the portabella burger. Though at some restaurants, "vegetarian" is synonymous with "skimpy," Sam's portabella burger was anything but. The sandwich was stacked high with a heck of a lot of mushrooms, some roasted red peppers, fresh spinach, melted cheddar cheese, a little mayo and Dijon mustard. The portabellas were marinated in some kind of sweet/tangy teriyaki sauce and the flavor melded well with the other sandwich dressings, though the burger itself seemed a little greasy. The fact that the sandwich came with toothpicks keeping it together should have been a warning to us that the sandwich was almost impossible to eat with dignity, but we carried on despite the mess: it was just that good.
Our other two sandwiches were also satisfying, if not spectacular. The bacon cheeseburger arrived topped with two slices of crispy bacon, a slice of American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and raw onions (though you can ask for them browned, a popular choice of frequent diners). The burger was a little dry, but this problem was all but solved once smothered in ketchup.
We also ordered the Thanksgiving-on-a-roll, a cold sandwich that is more or less what it sounds like: a very generous portion of sliced turkey breast, baked in house, along with stuffing and topped with cranberry sauce, all on sliced French bread. I loved the idea of a "Thanksgiving leftovers" sandwich, though this one could have used a bit more seasoning, and next time, I would ask for the sandwich warm with a side of gravy.
The only menu item that disappointed us was the cheese fries. The fries were thin-sliced, crispy, and smothered in American cheese, but bland. They weren't seasoned, as we had expected, and even my salt-phobic friend picked up the shaker. The serving was pretty large for $5 — a full platter — but between all the other food we'd ordered to sample, we barely made a dent in the fries.
After we chowed down a few bites of each dish and packed the rest in take-home boxes, our waitress showed us Sam's dessert tray. The offerings included banana-chocolate chip bread pudding, key lime pie, chocolate mousse and a few other desserts. We ordered the mousse, which arrived a few minutes later served in a large dessert glass and topped with vanilla bean whipped cream. The mousse was very thick — rather gelatinous and dense — but we each managed to eat a few spoonfuls.
Like several of the dishes we tried at Sam's, it was good, but not much to write home about. The standout dishes were definitely the chicken wings and the portabella burger, though the other two sandwiches get honorable mentions.
Overall, Sam's provided us with a great dining experience. Even though some of the food didn't wow us, it was pretty good for what Sam's is: a neighborhood restaurant. The extensive menu makes Sam's a good choice for a family dinner or lunch with a friend, since almost everyone will find something they like. The atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed, the food was reasonably priced for a Main Line restaurant, the staff was friendly, and the restaurant was clean. I can certainly understand why Sam's Grill has become a staple in Wynnewood.
Sam's Grill is located in the Wynnewood Shopping Center at 50 E. Wynnewood Rd.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Breakfast hours are Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.