Q: Where can we find a place to eat home-cooked turkey, giblet gravy, and homemade cornbread? Good or over-priced is fine. We used to go to Highland Park Cafeteria but due to COVID it closed. Hate that it happened.
A: Dear HPCD,
So many of our favorite restaurants have been done in by the pandemic. Not many of them, though, were a Dallas institution quite like Highland Park Cafeteria. HPC served those tried-and-true classics for more than a century, so your question as to where to get those traditional meals and comforting dishes, is a tough ask. Not only because HPC is a dying breed, but also the memory attached to such a place is nigh impossible to replicate.
That said, I’ve sleuthed around for some promising options.
While it may not be a carbon copy of your beloved HPC, there are still a few places in Dallas serving up plenty of home-cooked flavor. Maggiano’s, believe it or not, has quite the Thanksgiving feast with only a touch of Italian flair. Notably, the “traditional roasted turkey with giblet gravy and focaccia sausage stuffing” on the menu skews quite classic. There are also salads, pastas, and sides, such as whipped sweet potatoes and roasted garlic-broccoli, to round out the meal. (And pie, of course.) Unfortunately, they lack the cornbread you requested. (Here’s a tried and true recipe for skillet cornbread that you can whip up ahead of the meal, though.)
At Norma’s Cafe, the Thanksgiving dinner menu lists roasted or smoked sliced turkey breast, whole spiral-cut ham, and whole smoked turkey as the main, with quarts of dressing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, a dozen rolls, and pumpkin pie. The catch being this dinner spread serves up to 10 mouths, which may be way more servings than you need (all for $119). Norma’s does deliver on the homemade cornbread, though ($4.99 for a dozen muffins).
Now if you were planning on staying in at all this year, perhaps you want to check out the holiday offerings at Cooper’s. The Sylvan 30 meat market and steak house has a vast menu, which includes a classic turkey dinner (roasted, fried, or smoked), with your choice of two sides, one of which could be a traditional giblet gravy ($7 for a pint, $14 for a quart). There’s also cornbread dressing, which admittedly might not be the exact cornbread iteration for which you’re hankering, but it might still scratch that itch.
For a finer option, consider Thanksgiving at City Hall Bistro. Inside the Adolphus Hotel downtown, turkey breast is roasted with truffles and comes with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce. It’s traditional, but with some pinky-up style. The prix fixe menu ($65) also includes butternut squash bisque, pear salad, herby prime rib (in lieu of turkey), wood-roasted delicata squash with mushroom stuffing and truffle vinaigrette, and, for the table, plenty of sides: buttermilk mashed potatoes, green bean almondine, cornbread stuffing, and sweet and sour brussels sprouts. For dessert, the perpetual showdown between pecan and pumpkin pies.
The menu at Yardbird, located on the southern edge of Uptown, promises giblet gravy along its herb-roasted Yardbird turkey dinner ($36), which includes mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry compote. If you wanted to depart from some of the usual suspects, there will also be lobster mac and cheese, melted leek-potato gratin, biscuit stuffing with sage and celery, and a spiced pumpkin pie with gingersnap crumble and salted bourbon caramel. (You can also order this to-go.) Although there’s no cornbread mentioned on the Thanksgiving menu, Yardbird does have a skillet cornbread ($14) on its regular menu.
If it’s just the simple giblet gravy you require, The Meat Shop in the West Lovers Lane neighborhood, will sell you a pint for $10. Its house-made version consists of “turkey trimmings and rich stock for a luxurious and decadent topping for your entire plate.” There’s also a chestnut cornbread stuffing available to order to-go.
Best of luck on the giblet and cornbread hunt! RIP to HPC. And Happy Thanksgiving.
For a compendium of Dallas Thanksgiving options—traditional and non, dine in and takeout, plus desserts—head to that SideDish article here.