Best all-American restaurant - 2000
Sam's No. 3
Sam's No. 3 is the American dream come true. Just ask Sam, Alex and Patrick Armatas, who own the place. The three brothers are the grandsons of Sam Armatas, who started the town's infamous -- and now long-gone -- Coney Island eateries in the 1920s; Sam's son, Spero, still runs the thirty-year-old Newbarry's. And now this next generation is carrying on the tradition at their friendly family-style diner, where they offer an ambitous mix of Greek, Mexican and American food. Not only does Sam's serve breakfast any time -- good breakfasts, too, like hefty omelettes and thick, fluffy pancakes -- but it also offers such Mexican favorites as smothered burritos and chicken enchiladas, as well as Greek specialties like gyros and souvlaki, and domestic dishes, including fried chicken and meatloaf. And then there are creations unique to the Armatas family, like the Haystack, a Coney Island tradition that involves chili, jalape?os, pinto beans and heaven knows what else poured over a bowl filled with Fritos and layered with cheese, lettuce and tomato. Wash that down -- if you can -- with one of Sam's thick, frothy milkshakes, and if you can still move, nail down a bowl of the best rice pudding on the planet. Sam's makes us proud to be American.