I enjoyed a recent drive over the mountains to Newland, N.C., with my parents and a friend. While visiting the Avery County town, we stopped for dinner at San Dee’s Cafe, a long-established local eatery.
Customers order at the front counter, where a large menu is mounted on the wall beside the cashier’s station. The menu is divided into categories with sports-related themes, such as “Warm-up,” “Home Plate Dinners” and “Sidelines.” There’s also an extensive selection of sandwiches, subs, burgers and pizzas.
Customer seating is available in booths in a divided dining area featuring sponged antique-white walls trimmed with red, white and blue tiles as well as exposed brickwork. Decorating the dining area are replicas of vintage advertising signs, live potted plants and an abundance of framed sports photographs as well as sports-related memorabilia, such as tennis rackets, football helmets, baseball bats and catcher’s mitts.
The main task that we faced was trying to decide on what we wanted to eat. I was tempted by some of the sandwiches, including the Roast Beef, Philly Steak and Parmesan Chicken. I was also interested in the Ball Park Dog and some of the Specialty Burgers, including the Blackened Burger, the Old-Fashioned Burger and the All-American Burger.
The Home Plate Dinners also vied for consideration. The choices included Pulled Pork Barbecue, Flounder Filet, Country-Fried Chicken, Chicken Tenders and Country-Fried Steak. I ordered the Country-Fried Steak, which came with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy.
My parents ordered the Flounder Filet Dinner and the House Special Sub, which consists of ham, salami, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and Italian dressing. The sandwich is also served with a choice of mozzarella cheese or, as my father chose, hot pepper cheese.
My friend went the burger route, selecting the Mushroom and Swiss Burger paired with an order of Chili-Cheese Tater Tots. Other items on the “Sidelines” section of the menu include French Fries, Ranch Fries, Curly Fries, Onion Rings and Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.
After placing our orders, we got our drinks from a self-serve dispenser and took a seat at one of the booths in the dining area.
Although no member of my dining group took advantage of it on this visit, the restaurant also offers a Salad and Soup Bar. I surveyed the bar, which looked well-stocked with plenty of fixings for a tasty salad. I made a mental note to include a trip to the salad bar on a future visit to San Dee’s Cafe.
Our food was ready after only a modest wait for us to pick up at the front counter.
I liked the traditional Country-Fried Steak, which was topped with a white-pepper gravy. The Mashed Potatoes and well-seasoned Green Beans went well as side dishes with the steak.
My friend reported his satisfaction with the Mushroom and Swiss Burger, which also featured sauteed onions and green peppers. He reported that the patty also had a nice and smoky char-grilled flavor. The Chili-Cheese Tater Tots also provided a perfect “comfort food” side item for the burger.
My mother enjoyed the flounder filet, which was breaded and fried to a light golden-brown. Hush Puppies, French Fries and Cole Slaw accompanied her fish.
My father also liked his sandwich, which he said tasted tangy and flavorful. His sub was paired with an order of the eatery’s crispy, seasoned French Fries.
No meal at San Dee’s Cafe should be considered complete without another trip to the front counter to order something from the “Sweet Spot” on the menu. Offerings available for dessert include Apple Stix, Banana Split, Hot Fudge Cake and a variety of milkshakes, malts, floats and sundaes.
My friend ordered a Chocolate Malt while I chose a Butterscotch Milkshake. Other flavors available include Vanilla, Cherry, Strawberry, Pineapple, Cherry, Fudge, Caramel, Banana, Peanut Butter and Cafe Mocha. The shake was smooth and creamy, and I enjoyed it all the way back over the mountain. My friend said his chocolate malt had the distinctively rich flavor of malt blended in with the chocolate, and he enjoyed it so much that he went back for another.
Worth noting is that most of the burgers and sandwiches are $4.99 or less. The most expensive dinner plate is $7.99. The restaurant’s pizza, which we didn’t sample on this visit, tops the menu in expense with some of the large pies costing $10.99. The pizza varieties include Veggie Pizza, All-Meat, Cheese, Barbecue and more.
A visit to San Dee’s Cafe certainly won’t bust your “eating out” budget and, with gasoline no longer quite as expensive, a trip over the mountains into neighboring Avery County is a pleasant experience. The drive to Newland is quite scenic, especially with everything looking so fresh and green. A trip to this small North Carolina town could provide a nice summer day trip, and a stop at San Dee’s Cafe would definitely be in order. It’s all-American fare for the most part; the food tastes good and the staff greeted us with smiles and a helpful attitude.
AT A GLANCE: San Dee’s Cafe, 412 Pineola St., Newland, N.C. (828) 733-0441. Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Sunday. All menu items $10.99 and under. Credit cards accepted. Carryout available.