When you think of a cafeteria, gourmet food doesn’t exactly come to mind. But Highland Park Cafeteria has debunked that myth, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. “Our secret is that fresh, raw ingredients are less expensive than prepared,” owner Jeff Snoyer says. “Any time there’s a tomato scare or an egg scare, we don’t worry because we know exactly where our food comes from.” The cafeteria’s vegetables are grown no more than 50 feet from a dirt road and nowhere near power lines. It only serves what’s in season, and for the holidays, that means baked squash, zucchini muffins and pumpkin bread, all made in-house by cooks who have been interpreting recipes for more than 20 years. For just $7.99, customers can go through the line and stay as long as they like. “You pay $7, and you’re a member,” Snoyer says. And everyone in uniform receives a 50 percent discount. Last year during Thanksgiving week, Highland Park Cafeteria served about 9,000 over a three-day period. Pies stacked high on the counters, and people lined up around the building. “For some families in Dallas, it’s a family tradition,” he says. The cafeteria in Casa Linda Plaza is a Dallas landmark that first opened in 1925 on Knox Street. In 1981 The New York Times called it “America’s Cafeteria”, and neighbors lamented its closing in 1995. “Everyone in the community was just crying about it,” Snoyer says. “I said, ‘Someone’s got to open this.’ I worked in real estate, and had never seen the inside of restaurant kitchen before.” He says the staff’s dedication and attention to detail has kept Highland Park Cafeteria a mainstay for Dallas. “We have a sacred trust to keeping it true to its roots.”

Highland Park Cafeteria

Garland & Buckner

Three more spots for holiday grub:

1 Eat the World
This Lake Highlands take-out spot offers a vast Thanksgiving menu, including three different holiday specials plus nontraditional items like Italian sausage, smoked salmon and black-eyed pea tamales. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Tur-duc-hen, a Cajun meat medley with boneless chicken, duck breasts and turkey drizzled with spicy boudin dressing.
Abrams & Royal

2 Cheesecake Royale
For a sweet end to Thanksgiving dinner, this dessert haven serves up pumpkin cheesecake for the holidays along with its regular menu, which includes flavor varieties like tres leches, carrot cake, dulce de leche, key lime and Italian cream.
Garland & Ocalla

3 Central Market
From a traditional turkey dinner to vegetarian options, Central Market has five gourmet Thanksgiving meals to take home, warm up, and serve to eight people.
Lovers & Greenville