Short Orders: Norma's Cafe, North Dallas

Norma's Cafe
17721 N. Dallas Tollway
(at Trinity Mills)

The most recent addition to the Norma's line up just opened on Trinity Mills in North Dallas. It has a leaky roof and sterile surroundings. Inside, however, it's a fun combination of 50s diner and Texas chic.

To explain: there are padded soda fountain stools and soda signs, booths that might as well surround Formica tables and a sleek metallic touches that make you want to jump in the Bel Air and head over to the sock hop.

For those who grew up in the 70s, that means fire up the Trans-Am and get down. The 80s? Maybe a DeLorean and a few lines? I get lost after that.

To continue: the booths, however are designed as Texas state flags. On the back wall you'll find framed images of icons such as Big Tex. It is a colorful, indescribable place--except for food service, which is good old fashioned Norma's.

You can still order breakfast "after hours." The country breakfast, short stack, Western omelet--it's all there, with a few omissions. They serve burgers and the famous blue plate specials. And, of course, Norma's chicken fried steak.

I've always been partial to the morning fare. But their fried catfish is a nice, small town diner style presentation: two filets, a couple of hush puppies, some turnip greens on the side (if you so choose). The fish are a bit soft and on the light side, barely breaking beige in color. Still, the crust carries a comforting waft of salt.

The kitchen sways between two genres of hush puppy--sweet and savory--as if uncertain which version best suits the crowd. Fortunately, the kitchen mixes in a few thin bits of onion, thus adding a little bitter snap at the end.

Those turnip greens, however...well, they may be commercial, but who really cares when two chunks of fatty ham bring it back down home?

Anyway, they are still working out some problems (such as the leak). But it's open.

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