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Cheap Eats ; Busy Sophia's draws crowds with good food, prices

Only a few things have changed at Sophia's Restaurant since Guy Fieri brought his "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" cameras there in the summer of 2009. Now there's a big photo of Fieri on the wall, along with the beautiful Greek vistas and the religious icons, holy medals and kitchen implements.

But the restaurant's focus hasn't changed -- it's still about good food, cooked well and served quickly, at reasonable prices.

The place was full and had a few people standing at the door when Tom, Paula, John and I stopped in on a Saturday before noon. We were seated in a few minutes, but there was a short line for most of the time we were there. The front room has booths along the side and small tables in the middle, then a line of seats at the counter, where you can watch the cooks work the grill, efficiently preparing and assembling meals. While we waited, we watched the owner and grill master, Sam, cooking several over-easy eggs, skillfully sliding them here and there as they cooked without ever breaking the plump, glossy yolks.

The breakfast and lunch menu is extensive, with a variety of breakfasts, including pancakes and French toast, sandwiches, scrambles, salads and Greek specialties, along with almost every kind of side dish you could think of. The famously homemade bread encloses the sandwiches, forms the French toast base and is toasted to flank the omelettes.

Our orders ranged from the simple to the complex, and they were served at the same time, piping hot off the grill, each excellent in its own way.

The French toast ($4.50, with a side of bacon an extra $2) was constructed with medium-sliced homemade bread soaked in eggs, then was grilled to golden perfection, with a soft interior and a slightly crispy edge.

The kitchen had run out of cheddar for its cheese and bacon omelette ($5.95) but had so many other choices that it was easy to pick a substitute. In this case, provolone served as a tasty filling for a buttery omelette.

The pancakes ($4.25 for a full stack, sausages $2 extra) were exceptional. The cakes were of medium thickness, tender without being leaden, with a slightly sweet, slightly vanilla-infused taste. The sausage links were extremely flavorful, balanced spices perfectly accenting the meat.

We also tried the breakfast skillet ($7.95), made with peppers, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, eggs and any selection of meat and cheese. We chose the homemade sausage, which was sliced thin for evenness of cooking. Every bite of this generously sized, delicious combination was slightly different, but all were exceptional. The potatoes' crisp edges added extra flavor and crunch. The portion size was so generous that half of it went home with us.

It's easy to see why Sophia's is so busy -- people recognize and appreciate the value and quality offered here.




3.5 pennies (out of four)    

"Great food, cooked well"    

WHERE: 749 Military Road (447-9661)    

HOURS: Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. six days a week; closed on Mondays.    

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Several steps to the front door.

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