The $200 business lunch might be taking a hiatus for a while, given the recent queasiness in the markets. What better excuse to visit a place with paper napkins and character to spare? Here are some places you won’t regret visiting, even if you can claim you’re saving money while doing it.
Norma’s Cafe (Oak Cliff)
1123 W Davis St., Dallas; no Web site
THE LOWDOWN: At first owned by Norma Manis, this joint was purchased by Ed Murph decades ago. Expect spartan accomodations and enormous portions served by a very friendly staff. SPECIALTIES: Chicken-fried steak, half-pound burgers, and five-inch-high slices of pie. Can’t go wrong with breakfast (served all day).
WHO EATS THERE: HKS Inc. CEO Ralph Hawkins
WHAT DOES HE EAT? Two eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns, and wheat toast.
2126 Leonard St., Dallas; sammysbbq.com
THE LOWDOWN: The armed guards at the Federal Reserve will eye you suspiciously if you park too close to their building. Maybe rightfully so. After all, the Fed actually owns the ground upon which Sammy’s sits, sources say.
SPECIALTIES: Ribs, brisket, anything that used to walk. Try Glenda’s potato salad—lukewarm, but oddly addictive.
WHO EATS THERE: Richard Fisher, CEO and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
What does he eat? Chopped beef sandwich and fried zucchini.
9661 Denton Drive, Dallas; no Web site
THE LOWDOWN: If you feel like you’ve been here already, maybe it’s because Club Schmitz would serve as a good prototype for a hole-in-the-wall restaurant: Waitresses wear shirts that say something about getting “Schmitz-faced.” Soda comes in a can with old-fashioned mugs.
SPECIALTIES: Go with the “Double Double,” the double meat, double cheeseburger with onion rings. Their chili is also supposed to be great. Food of the gods.
WHO EATS THERE: Southwest Airlines officials including former CEO Herb Kelleher
WHAT DOES HE EAT? The BLT.
Ojeda’s Mexican Restaurant
4617 Maple Ave., Dallas; ojedasdallas.com
THE LOWDOWN: Ben and Cecelia Ojeda opened this joint in 1969, making it one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in North Texas. It claims to have served everyone from Jack Nicholson to Dr. Phil. Beware the eternal bottles of salsa that sit around like ketchup.
SPECIALTIES: Greasy Tex-Mex. Each mortal ought to try Ojeda’s Meltdown (a frozen margarita) before they pass this coil. The puffed taco lunch with borracho beans is the way to go.
WHO EATS THERE: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
WHAT DOES HE EAT? Brisket tacos, guacamole, and pico de gallo.
photography Hawkins: Dan Sellers, Fisher: Randal Ford; Kelleher and Jones: Corbis