Monday, October 23, 2006

Sam's Cafe

Boy, did we ever get a good tip a few weeks ago: Sam's Cafe, in downtown Champaign, is now serving Lebanese food on Thursday and Friday nights from 4:30 to 10:30.

I repeat, this is downtown Champaign, on Walnut Street. It's right in the middle of the block that houses Cafe Kopi, Bacaro, and Radio Maria. Since the diner is usually only open for breakfast and lunch, there are an amazing number of Downtown Nightowls that aren't even aware the place exists.

Our party of 10 swooped in last Friday night around 7:00. The owners were friendly and encouraged us to move as many tables together as we needed. The food was phenomenal. And get this: dinners run $6.50 each.

You heard me right.

Here's a few of the plates we ordered Friday night. All were served with warm pitas on the side, and there are more on the menu that aren't pictured here.

Chicken, tabouleh, garlic sauce

Dolmas to share

Falafef, hummus, tabouleh

Ummm...sorry, I missed just what this is.
I'm not a real restaurant critic, I just play one on blogger.

Yeesh, I missed what this is too, but Atef seems to be enjoying it.

Salad! Yum!

Everything about this place is right up my alley. Give me a small, family-run diner with knock-your-socks-off food over a franchise any day. No contest. With places like this in our town, you'd have to drag me kicking and screaming into a Chili's or an Applebee's.

So, Eat at Sam's.

Oh, and the opinions expressed here are also endorsed by a few of my friends:

If we can't convince you to try this place out, no one can.


  1. The food looks yummy! I love middle eastern food.

    You sure? That looks more like Baba Ganush.

  2. This time 4 years ago and we would have tried the place out.

    Nepalese tucker for us for awhile.

  3. Yum, looks great. We'll definately have to check that out! Thanks for sharing! And yeah to your friend with sleeve tattoos, always nice to see more of us of the modified mind in CU!

  4. Now, what's funny is that a place called Sam's Cafe serves Lebanese food. :) It looks delicious. It makes me want to take advantage of all the various ethnic restaurants here in DC. That last pic is so funny.

  5. Yumm..especially the chicken..we folks are chicken fans....

    we have a few great places like that here...

    So I'll be sure to take ya' when you guys come down!!

  6. The food WAS amazing! I loved it!

    I only regret I didn't realize that was garlic sauce earlier than I did. Yummmm-EEE!

    I think Atef was eating a falafel wrap...

    Wonderful place! And it just feels great to frequent local businesses!

  7. Who can resist an endorsement by a bunch of whackos!!?

  8. Wow! That looks GOOD! Thanks for the visit. I miss you tons.

  9. TDNA: No baba ganoush; that's eggplant yes? Don't remember that.

    Dogbait: Can hardly wait to see photos from nepal!

    Mal: Missed you Saturday! Yeah, Joe's tat's are uber-cool. I've got a long way to go, baby.

    Stephen: I'll have to review our local history; how long this lebanese family owned the place, and if he really is Sam! Shame on me for not knowing.

    Mary: Chickeennnnnnnnn, yum! I may have to go back this thursday too. I think I'm addicted.

    Momo: You have to try everything on your plate! You don't know what you might be missing.

    Barry: Takes one to know one! har har.

    Andy: It is good; hope ya hangin in there!

  10. $6.50!!!!?!?!?! That's like, £3.75!!?! I spend that on lunch in a day and it's not even half as exciting! Would write more, but am about to fall off my chair...

  11. What a meal! It looks delish.

  12. Wow, I am so jealous! It looks amazing. I totally agree - the small places rock!

  13. You're making me hungry:) Never had lebanese food. They used to have a restaurant at KLCC but the decor was kinda dark and uncheery. Its since closed down. Guess I'ld have to look harder now.

  14. A lot of that food looks rather Greek...guess they share similar qualities.

    Next time I venture to Champaign I'll go...and I'll look for you and your fabulous friends!

  15. Champaign, IL!! I always forget that's where you live. My husband was born there, my grandma was born there, my mom grew up near there!...small world. I don't think that they had restaurants like this back in the day. Probably just meat and potatoes. But I'll know where to go if we ever go visit!

  16. Sveny: Up off the floor boy, I am not messing with you! Save your lunch money and have dinner with us!

    FMM: It WAS delish. Though I'm still hellbent on Madre's...

    Wendy: Mmmmm, a good dive!

    Edina: More food reports from YOU, please!

    Tai: It is greek-esque; I forgot to mention they had baklava!

    JayAre: This place has come a long way in the last 20 years. U of I makes us a bit more culturally diverse than other town our size. It's a nice place to live.

  17. Mmmmm, that food looks delicious! Love the blog, but I'm starving now!


  18. I am boggled- I have been reading your blog for months now, and even set up a dinner party at Sam's based on your blog post here. Come to find out... we work together ;) This only came up in conversation because I started talking about my Lebanese dinner party (idea stolen from you). Mwahahaha! Now I have a real excuse to bug you and see if I can come to your cool girl's night parties- every time I read your blog I think- "Gosh, I hope I'm that cool in 20 years."

  19. Claire: Thanks; I've bookmarked your blog now too!

    Jade: Wow, I was boggled too (bloggled, I'm bloggled!) at this new news. A little investigation in order, though I had it narrowed down to one or two. Cool!

    Laurie: YEAH, yum. I ate there again tonight. I'm hooked.

  20. Oh wow that Lebanese food looks Yummy!!!

    Found your blog on Karla's blog!!! LOL


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