Many lucky folks across D-FW already know where they will be on Nov. 22. Perhaps you'll be wrapped in a warm sweater and devouring pumpkin pie with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (because Mom knows that's just the way you like it) or, if you're a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, maybe it means bowing your head before a backdrop of AT&T Stadium.
But, not every North Texan knows where they'll spend the holiday. Whether you're new to town and feeling homesick or could use a warm meal and a little encouragement while getting back on your feet, here are 5 free Thanksgiving meals that are open to anyone, no questions, no strings attached.
A 30-year Oak Cliff tradition
If you've lived in North Texas long, you likely know that Norma's Cafe includes a dash of loving generosity in its recipe for success. Throughout the year, the small chain of diners that originated in Oak Cliff marks special occasions with freebies, rolled back pricing and charitable partnerships.
Thanksgiving is one of those occasions. For 30 years, the original location in Dallas has offered free meals to anyone and will again on Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Head over for what a statement calls a "feast of holiday favorites, including turkey and dressing with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, English peas, salad, rolls, fruit and dessert."
The tradition began in 1988 with 100 meals given to individuals and families who might have spent the day alone or hungry. Norma's expects to give away more than 8,000 meals this year, according to the statement.
Fans of home cooking who don't cook can also purchase a Norma's-made meal to-go for Thanksgiving. Orders must be placed by Nov. 16, and most packages feed 8-10 people for less than $100. (There are also à la carte options if, say, you just need a side dish or dessert.)
New this year, Norma's has partnered with Lower Greenville shop Bullzerk on a t-shirt fundraiser featuring a custom design that says "take a slice out of hunger." The shirts will be sold online and at all five Norma's locations for $23. One hundred percent of proceeds go to CitySquare to alleviate the strain of poverty in North Texas.
A feast for veterans and first responders
In partnership with Operation Forever Free, downtown Dallas hotel The Statler will host a "Thanksgiving for your service" celebration for active first responders and civil servants, military veterans and their immediate families from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 22. The spread features a traditional holiday meal with all the trimmings in the hotel ballroom.
The cost is free, but guests will be asked to show credentials at the door. Reservations are required, and complimentary valet will be provided. You can RSVP here.
Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Statler, 1914 Commerce St., Dallas.
It's not just a favorite shout-out concert request. In Dallas, "Freebird" is an annual Thanksgiving meal at barbecue joint The Slow Bone in Dallas' Design District. Years past have featured traditional holiday dishes, as well as a few items such as brisket and ribs from the restaurant's regular menu.
The restaurant will be open from noon until 4 p.m. on Nov. 22, and meals will be free to anyone. Folks in need of a hearty meal and those who can't make it back home to mom's kitchen -- like the Balfour family, pictured above, who had just moved to town from Nashville during Freebird 2014 -- can enjoy a warm meal together.
Nov. 22 from noon to 4 p.m. at The Slow Bone, 2234 Irving Blvd., Dallas.
'Doing the most good' in Dallas and Fort Worth
The Salvation Army will offer Thanksgiving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 22 at locations in Dallas and Fort Worth. A traditional lunch with trimmings will be provided, free and open to the public. Meals include turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, yams, fresh rolls and pumpkin pie, according to the website.
A hot meal delivered
Operation Turkey recognizes that some folks are unable to get out on Thanksgiving. The organization will deliver turkey, stuffing, vegetables, pie and a drink to you between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Nov. 22.
It's free, and there are no qualifications to receive a meal, but you will need to request a delivery by Nov. 16. For those without a current permanent address, organizers will reach out via the phone number or email address listed on the request form to determine a good location to meet up.
More Thanksgiving dining options:
• Don't want to cook: 50+ restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth to order Thanksgiving takeout
• Have to cook, at least a little: 9 fool-proof Thanksgiving recipes anyone can make
• Want to make something fancy: 8 can't-live-without Thanksgiving recipes from Dallas chefs
• Bored with leftovers: Repurpose them with creative sandwich recipes from local chefs
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Norma's will be serving food until 1:30 p.m. Actual service hours will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 22.