Like that great grandma who always serves you an extra helping, Dallasites have loved the unbeatable specials at Norma's Cafe for almost six decades. This Tuesday, June 23, Norma's Cafe celebrates 59 years in the Oak Cliff neighborhood with another unbeatable special on blue-plate specials so big you won't have to ask for a second helping.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., dine-in guests can order the chicken fried steak, meatloaf or the chicken and dressing plates for just $1.79. That's seven quarters and some tax for a full meal.
Owner of Norma's Cafe Ed Murph prides himself on this special, making sure that all entree portions and side items are the same size as what guests normally receive. The sides for this special will be Norma's two most popular side items: mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans. The baskets of homemade dinner rolls and cornbread will be free, as always.
"About seven years ago, I was looking for a way to thank my customers for their loyalty and support," said Murph. "I came up with this idea of the $1.79 to kind of reflect prices from a different time, like the 1960s."
In the 1960s is when Ed first starting eating at Norma's in Oak Cliff, owned then by Norma Manis. In 1986, Murph bought Norma's, and the cafe has since expanded to to another location in Dallas and one in Frisco.
Last year, all three Norma's locations served a total of 4,000 people the $1.79 anniversary special. This year, Murph and Director of Operations for Norma's Cafe, Bill Ziegler, are expecting just as many, if not more customers to come by and celebrate the anniversary with this special. Murph and Ziegler are expecting a line out the door, but they're asking customers to be patient. "Once you get in, [the line] goes really fast. Come early, be patient and have fun," said Ziegler. "It's a party atmosphere. We'll have fun."
Ziegler also said the chain sold 90 or more Mile-High Cream Pies™ during last year's anniversary special. Not 90 slices. 90 full pies. This year they'll be making at least 100 pies so more customers can enjoy Norma's favorite dessert, the same one they served for free on National Pie Day.
"I ate a lot of pies as a kid," said Murph, who's adapted many of his pies and plated recipes from tried-and-true family recipes.
"The chicken fried steak is prepared the same way my aunt and grandmother used to," said Murph. "We like to use whole potatoes. We peel them here every day so it's really truly a home-cooked meal. And we use certified Angus beef, a steak cut, and I think that's what gives [our recipe] the flavor and texture that keeps the people coming back."
The quality of ground beef matches the quantity of portion Norma's serves. "It's a big, big portion, which is something we're known for," said Ziegler, along with the "sweet, 'sagey' flavor of the cornbread used in our chicken with cornbread dressing."
Three area locations
1123 West Davis St., Dallas
17721 Dallas Pkwy., Dallas
8300 Gaylord Pkwy., Frisco