After retiring, Thom Turnock wanted to get into the restaurant business and use his knowledge from a career in marketing to give patrons a quality experience. “I’m a little bit of a control freak,” he says. When you step into Varsity Grill, his efforts are immediately visible. The place is immaculate. Turnock says that when he opened up in Lake Highlands three years ago, he didn’t do any advertising; most people discovered the restaurant by word of mouth. The consistency of the food and the service attracts a large lunch crowd from neighborhood businesses, and Turnock makes it a priority to learn the names of all his customers. He also enjoys working with local schools for various fundraisers. Turnock says that although the restaurant is family friendly, it will never be one of those noisy places where the kids run amok, unattended by their parents. “The food here is made-to-order, our Blue Bell ice cream shakes are hand-dipped, the patties and wings are never frozen … the big groups with really little kids just need things to be a little more instant.” The menu includes a variety of salads, wraps, and appetizers, but the burgers are top-notch. There are dozens of burger places around Dallas, but Turnock says his buns set him apart. Made fresh daily, customers can choose from jalapeno-cheddar, sweet sourdough or whole wheat. The buns don’t fall apart or overwhelm the flavor of the grilled patty. The final product is a good old-fashioned burger that satisfies.
AMBIANCE: Old-school casual diner
PRICE RANGE: $5-$8
HOURS: Monday-Saturday, 11 A.M.-9:30 P.M.; Closed Sunday
DID YOU KNOW? Owner Thom Turnock originally played ’80s music in the restaurant to suit the neighborhood demographic until customers of all ages told him they preferred the golden oldies.
Three more must-try burgers
1 Keller’s Drive-in
This drive-in has been a neighborhood institution since 1965, with the customer service, cheap prices, and eclectic regulars to prove it. Order an ice-cold longneck to drink in your car with some tater tots and the popular No. 5: a juicy double cheeseburger with special sauce. Just don’t forget to stop by the ATM on your way, since it’s cash only. 6537 E. Northwest Hwy., 214.368.1209
2 JG’s Old Fashioned Burgers
Be sure to check out the condiment bar where you can fancy up your burger any way you please at this restaurant that’s been in our ‘hood nearly 30 years. 12101 Greenville, 972.644.8628
Turn up the heat at this Lake Highlands establishment by trying a spicy black bean veggie patty or a “jalapeno bottle cap” burger. 6606 Skillman, 214.349.1422