Sande’s in Delray Beach: A step back in time with old-fashioned food and cozy surroundings

Sande’s on Federak Highway in Delray Beach.

Sande’s old-style lunch counter.

Homestyle breakfast and lunch items are on the menu and friendliness is in the air at this old-style diner on Federal Highway.

By Alan J. Wax

It’s a bit like walking into a time warp entering Sande’s, a classic American diner, on Federal Highway in Delray Beach.

Sande’s takes you back in time with its homey atmosphere, incredibly friendly staff, and well-prepared, simple home-cooked foods at prices, while up-to-date, are still a bargain.

About a mile north of Lake Ida Road past the row of car dealerships, Sande’s sits opposite a Mitsubishi showroom. Sandra and James Strong, originally from Michigan, bought the restaurant, then called the Big Spur, in 1984, when there was little else in the area. Sandra Strong died in July 2022, but Jim still shows up at the eatery to check on things, their daughter and current owner, Shayne Stormer, told me in a post-dining interview.

Sunshine lights up the dining room through the expansive windows. You’ll find both green-padded booths and a lunch counter with blue-topped stools as well as a back patio. The room seats about 70 diners. White acoustic tiles line the ceiling framed with black beams. Ceiling fans and potted ferns are suspended from the ceiling. Pinewood paneling is everywhere. Knickknacks and plaques decorate the wall behind the cash register — sorry, no credit cards, but there is an ATM — where owner Stormer holds down the fort when she’s not sidling up to regulars in their booths. “I’ve known a lot of them since I was a kid,” Stormer said.

Owner Shayne Stormer at the register.

Sande’s doors open daily at 6 a.m. and close at 2:45 p.m. It’s quite busy most mornings, but the waits aren’t too long. And at a recent late lunch, there were seats to be had in an instant.

As customers chit-chat about their families with Stormer and her servers, mostly young women clad in Sande’s T-shirts or tank tops, the crew bustles around the tables, coffee pots in hand, ready to top off anyone at any table who needed more of the fresh, hot java.

Sande’s menu also is a throwback to simple dining, featuring such traditional breakfast eats, as pancakes, waffles, omelets, biscuits and gravy, and steak and eggs. At lunch, there are wraps, sandwiches, and baskets of fried foods. On weekends, Benedict-style eggs are served, along with mimosas. Few changes have been made save for a few additions, according to Stormer.

A two-sided placemat serves as the menu. Breakfast on one side, lunch on the other. Sande’s cook has been with the eatery for 25 years and its chief dishwasher for about as long a time.

Short stack with eggs.

Hash Benedict.

Open face meatloaf sandwich.

French toast.

The portions are generous considering the prices. On one visit, on a Saturday morning, I ordered the Corned Beef Hash Benedict ($9.25 for a half order, $11.25 for a full). The hash was crispy and flavorful, and the poached eggs atop toasted English muffins were cooked perfectly and blanketed in hollandaise sauce. I skipped the included Mimosa for some orange juice.

French toast ($6.50) is old-style. No challah here, just fried egg-soaked white bread slices sprinkled with powdered sugar and a serving of hot syrup. 

A Hot Cakes Short Stack with two eggs ($7) was picture-perfect. The pancakes, about 6 inches across, though on the thin side, tasted just made. The sunny-side-up eggs glistening on my plate could not have been better cooked.

On another visit, I pondered which diner staple to order at lunchtime before settling on a Hot Open Face Meatloaf Sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy ($9.20). It was simple, but what a joy. There were three slabs of browned, coarse-ground meat flecked with bits of green pepper resting atop halved slices of white bread and a pile of homemade mashed spuds next to them, all wading in a rich brown gravy that I mopped up with leftover bread. 

There’s plenty on the menu left for me to try on a future visit which I definitely intend to undertake. It’ll be worth it to revisit this homespun, hometown, and above all, friendly, eatery. 

Sande’s Restaurant

1717 N. Federal Hwy., Delray Beach 33483


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