The man wears a rimmed hat and visits the restaurant about once a week. After taking his meal, he heads outside to the patio to take an S-walk through the rows of rosemary, oregano, fennel and other herbs growing in the garden. “He came in here two days ago and said, ‘I want you to know I come here just to walk through the garden to chill out,’” says Dale Wooten, the restaurant’s owner. “I said, ‘Great! That’s what we’re here for.’” Wooten, a real estate attorney who offices two doors down, knew when he purchased the building in 1991 that a cafe would not be the “highest and best use” for the land, commercially speaking. That would have been a two-story office building. But Wooten knew both he and others would benefit from a backyard oasis. “It’s therapy,” he says. “I decided a long time ago I could have a psychiatrist or garden because the garden served the same function.” On weekday lunch hours the suits drive from downtown “to get away from the concrete and smell some basil,” Wooten says. They dine on home-style dishes made with organic herbs plucked fresh from the patio. On weekends it’s brunch that draws the crowds, sometimes all the way from De Soto and Duncanville. “They get upset if we’re out of chicken and dumplings,” Wooten says. “That’s my mother’s recipe.”

GARDEN CAFE

5310 JUNIUS

214.887.8330

Hours:

Tues-Sun, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.