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Lunch with Sandy

I’ve written before that I consider the lecture series at Little Rock’s Clinton School of Public Service to be one of this city’s (indeed this state’s) top amenities.

I go to hear the speakers (it’s free) as often as my schedule allows. When the Clinton School hosts a noon lecture, it always advertises it as a “bring your own lunch” event. To heck with that.

Since the lectures end at 1 p.m., this is a chance for me to drive just down the street and have a late lunch at Sandy’s Homeplace Cafe at 1710 E. 15th St.

The unassuming home of Sandy’s is tucked into the industrial district near the Little Rock National Airport. Sandy doesn’t advertise. You will rarely see a review of the place. She only serves lunch from Monday through Friday.

If you like Southern country cooking, though, you will have a hard time finding a better value anywhere in Little Rock. For $6.50, you get all the food you can eat and all the iced tea you can drink. The main limitation is that you can only have one chicken fried steak or hamburger steak at the $6.50 price. Another one will cost you an extra dollar. There’s always a second meat dish, which is an all-you-can-eat choice. It might be chicken livers one day. It might be turkey and dressing the next.

“That’s one way I keep the price low,” Sandy says.

Also, if you want a piece of pecan pie, it’s an extra $1.50. Needless to say, I’ve never left hungry.

On Monday, after hearing attorney John Walker speak at the Clinton School, I headed over to Sandy’s for a chicken fried steak along with turkey and dressing. I also had turnip greens and mashed potatoes on that first plate.

Once I had cleaned that plate, I went back for the vegetables I didn’t have room for the first time around — brown beans, green beans and. . . Heck, I can’t even remember what else I put on the plate. But it was all good. I didn’t even get any cornbread or rolls, which come with the meal. And I sure didn’t pay extra for a piece of pie.

Put up your own plate and glass when you’re finished. Pay Sandy $6.50 at the register (it’s a cash business). Then, head back to work and try your best to stay awake.

If you haven’t tried Sandy’s, you owe it to yourself to do so. She caters mostly to the workers in that neighborhood, though an occasional “suit” from downtown will wander in.

Where’s your favorite place for country cooking at lunch? I would love to hear about it.

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