Lunch at Sandy McGee's

Located on historic Morton Street across from Richmond City Hall, Sandy McGee's has been a small-town staple and source of Sugar Land's favorite broccoli-cheese soup since 1986. On the weekends Sandy's is filled with moms and daughters taking a break from midday antiquing, while weekdays bring suits from the courthouse down the street. What drives lines out the door regardless is Sandy's attentiveness to the way each plate is made.

Fruit is always fresh, ripe and accompanied by a sugary poppy seed sauce. Sandwiches are carefully constructed, giving the impression that the kitchen saved the best parts of everything specifically for you. There are no wilty sprouts, soapy avocados or ends of tomatoes. The free spicy butter toast melts supremely well into a rich, buttery broccoli-cheese soup, whose broccoli and carrots bits are a well-cooked, quiet afterthought. Oversize desserts such as the Mexican fudge cake, amaretto cream pie and buttermilk pecan pie can render the unsuspecting Richmond window shopper incapacitated.

Several years ago, Sandy McGee's opened a second location on Highway 6 near First Colony Mall, but with menu changes and new surroundings, the magic of the original was gone. Recent attempts at renovating and expanding the original have not been totally successful either -- the 1950s-style diner countertop and soda shop booths are gone and the place is now more open-concept -- but the food that made it a favorite is holding strong.

Even the menu has seen a surface makeover to attract a new generation of less-seasoned Sandy fans. My meal -- half a 6th Street sandwich, broccoli cheese soup and a fruit salad, culled from "The Foodie 'N Us All" option that lets you mix and match menu items -- was once called a "City Secretary," a tribute to Sandy's original regulars.

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