As the holidays approach, I get nostalgic about the big family dinners of my childhood, gathered around the table at my grandmother’s house. Meals were loud and entertaining, and there was a constant passing of plates as everyone clamored for their favorite dishes. I remember my grandmother’s food as being sturdy and nurturing and straightforward, made with love and shared abundantly. When I’m hankering to re-visit that style of cuisine, I head to Sam’s Hof Brau on Watt Avenue, which has been feeding hungry local diners since 1959. Visitors stand in line at this family-friendly restaurant and choose from the dizzying selection of meats (from hand-carved roast beef and turkey to meatloaf, corned beef and Salisbury steak) and side dishes (ranging from four-bean salad and mashed potatoes to pickled beets); and they can also order sandwiches (don’t miss the original French Dip). Savvy Sam’s guests know to save room for dessert – there’s an entire display case filled with slices of pie. Menu prices are surprisingly affordable, and you can’t beat the convivial, welcoming environment of this Sacramento dining institution.