Open since 1984, has built a loyal following of patrons, but never took that as an excuse to coast on its reputation. The large menu features portions so big you're likely to end up with two good meals for the price of one.
The restaurant at 5320 Touhy Ave. has the standard diner décor; there’s a mix of booths, tables and counter-seating and a TV set in the corner. Walls are lined with abstract and nature-themed paintings and planters hang from the ceiling. A rotating case showcasing pies and cakes offers a fix for anyone's sweet tooth.
The place was already busy when we got there at 9 a.m. last Saturday, primarily occupied by a mix of seniors and families with young children. While we were quickly seated and greeted by our server, she wasn't able to offer many breakfast recommendations since she said she rarely ate breakfast at Sander's herself. She did say their omelets were popular, explaining that they’re baked in the oven to make them particularly fluffy. She was friendly and cheerful, though we found it a bit off-putting when she said, “That’s lame but OK” when my fiancé ordered hot tea ($1.65) rather than coffee ($1.65).
I went for a zucchini, tomato, mushroom and Swiss cheese omelet ($7.85) which was excellent. The light and fluffy eggs were packed with fresh and perfectly cooked vegetables and a huge amount of melted cheese.
Unfortunately, the day’s special, the Mexican omelet, wasn't as appealing.
It wasn’t served with salsa on top and we had to wait for some time for our server to reappear to ask for the side. My fiancé had asked for extra jalapenos, but they barely made an impact when compared to the ground sausage that dominated the dish. Serious carnivores might delight in it, but for someone more interested in eggs with a kick mixed with vegetables and meat, the imbalance was so jarring he left the dish largely untouched.
Fortunately, the omelets are huge and come with a generous portion of hash browns, plus toast or two pancakes. The hash browns are great, large thin slices of potatoes with a very crispy layer on top. The pancakes were soft and fluffy and served with good syrup. Even with my fiancé picking at my omelet, I still took almost half of it home -- the portions are that generous.
After our waitress brought out our food and drink, our server seemingly stopped caring about us, and we had to flag her down every time we wanted something, including to-go boxes and the check. When we only requested a box for my dish, she asked if we hadn’t liked the Mexican omelet and said was sorry that was the case. But she wasn’t sorry enough to give any sort of a discount on the meal. Sander's Restaurant is pretty typical service for a diner, but I always feel disappointed when a spot sinks to those low standards. Nevertheless, the fact that determines the success of a diner is its food, and whether you’re going there at 5 a.m. or 11 p.m., Sander’s should satisfy your stomach.