Burgers and steamed sandwiches are Sam & Andy’s claim to fame, but those certainly are not the only items represented on the menu.More about Sam and Andy's »
- Food: ***½
- Service: ***½
- Atmosphere: ***
- Overall: ***½
- Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
- Seating: First come, first served
- Kids’ menu
- Beer service only, BYO wine with no setup fee
Any restaurant that’s been in business since 1946 must be doing something right. That was my rationale for investigating the fare at the Sam & Andy’s location in Fountain City.
If you happen to be a big fan of University of Tennessee sports — football in particular — you’re likely to find the decor at Sam & Andy’s to be agreeable with your aesthetic preferences. Much of the wall hangings consist of framed, UT sports-themed prints. Otherwise, the large, single dining space is rather nondescript. A number of booths line one wall, and the remaining tables seem to have landed randomly in various askew placements on the main floor.
Burgers and steamed sandwiches are Sam & Andy’s claim to fame, but those certainly are not the only items represented on the menu. There are deep-fried, pub-style appetizers as well as salads like Greek, grilled chicken, tuna and smokehouse (topped with ham, chicken breast and bacon).
Dinner-style entrees encompass categories ranging from chicken, pasta and steak to seafood and even stone oven-baked pizzas. Items include chicken cordon bleu, Cajun grilled chicken, spaghetti, chicken parmesan, rib-eye steak sandwich, nine-ounce chopped sirloin and grilled tuna steak.
However, The Grub Spouse, The Grub Sprout and I chose to focus exclusively on the burger/sandwich realm, which offered us plenty of options. There are 15 burger selections alone, including the fundamental half-pound Vol burger — a classic meat-and-cheese creation embellished with mayo, lettuce and tomato.
The Sprout, being the barbecue sauce fanatic that he is, did not hesitate in selecting the Hickory Burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and the always-coveted barbecue sauce.
The Spouse and I stayed within the steamed sandwiches section, which offers up the likes of a club, hoagie, smoked ham and oven-roasted turkey breast sandwiches. The Spouse went with the roast beef (which the menu says is 98 percent fat free), while I felt compelled to give their Reuben a whirl. I ordered the latter on dark bread, choosing mustard over Thousand Island dressing. All our choices came with French fries. I also grabbed a big slice of homemade red velvet cake for us to share afterward.
We had ordered at the front register, but our meals were delivered to our booth. The burger indeed was a winner, with the thick, juicy meat patty providing a tasty foundation for the sauce and bacon. The cheese-topped roast beef sandwich got a thumbs-up, although I was probably least enamored with my own Reuben. I knew going in that it was being served on a dark hoagie-style roll instead of the traditional squared slices of rye, but there was still something about the corned beef that just didn’t taste as authentic as I would have preferred. The portion was fair, but I was only able to give their take on the Reuben average marks.
Surprisingly, I had to say the same about the red velvet cake, which for supposedly having been made that morning seemed dry and lacking in flavor. I would imagine that might have been due to its being kept in refrigerator display case all day.
North Knoxville residents and those who are already fans of Sam & Andy’s will likely have plenty of reasons to stay loyal patrons. As for myself, I’m at least happy to vouch for the burgers.