The Beacon restaurant pretty much has downtown covered when it comes to greasy-but-great breakfast and diner food.
But Lilli Mae's is hoping to edge in on that business with its visible-from-Kellogg diner at 208 E. Kellogg.
The restaurant opened last fall and recently, in an attempt to attract an after-hours Old Town crowd, started staying open overnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
ON THE MENU: Lilli Mae's serves breakfast all the time, plus burgers, soups, salads, hot sandwiches and diner specialties such as chicken fried steak and fried catfish.
A rotating menu of blue plate specials includes meat loaf on Mondays and pan-fried chicken and dumplings on Thursdays. Pie and cake are on the menu as well.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: Lilli Mae's is particularly proud of its country breakfast _ and the owners especially brag up the omelets.
The one we tried — a Denver omelet ($6.75) —certainly was good. Rather than being heavy and glopped full of cheese, the outer egg layer was light and fluffy, then stuffed full with fresh ham, green and red peppers and diced onions. It was served with a side of limp hashbrowns and wheat toast.
We also sampled the biscuits and gravy, an inexpensive indulgence that's $4 for a full order and $2.75 for a sizable half order. The biscuits' texture was not quite right, but the tasty gravy contained large chunks of sausage — a nice touch. (They were particularly delicious reheated later that day.)
At the suggestion of our server, who trumpeted its inexpensive deliciousness, we also ordered a steak, which is available either served with breakfast or dinner-like sides. (It's $8.25 at breakfast, $11.25 at dinner.)
The steak was interesting — a super-thin, pounded cut of meat that had been marinated and coated in a very salt-and_ peppery seasoning. Though hardly of steak-house quality, it was tasty enough and fit the price — and our expectations.
AMBIENCE: The square dining room features wooden tables still branded with the R&S BBQ logo (one of the building's many former tenants) as well as lots of country touches, including wreaths and old kitchen utensils decorating the walls. A corner of the restaurant features a big-screen television set up with a gaming system for the kids.
It's hardly luxurious, but it's comfortable enough.
PRICE RANGE: Breakfast dishes average about $7. Burgers and sandwiches range from $5 to $7.25. Dinner entrees are mostly $7.25, too.
SERVICE: Our server kept up well, considering she was serving the entire Sunday morning crowd on her own.