Tucked away on a tidy side street off Main in Richardson is a place you might find off Main Street in any small town in Texas, but it’s only minutes from downtown. Del’s Charcoal Burgers has been around for 52 years – which is 483 in Dallas years, if anyone’s counting – and yet it’s still relatively unknown to most outside its immediate area.
In other words, you’ll find the foodie-types chasing gourmet sandwiches elsewhere, while Del’s is still filled with burger-lovers who don’t take camera phone pics before they dig in. Refreshing.
“I bought it about seven years ago, and I’m glad I did,” said owner Hossein Taher. “Hoss,” as he likes to be known, bought the place from a guy who bought it from Del Smith who founded the little diner in 1957. He and his wife Mary take pride in their purchase and have kept things pretty much the same as they’ve always been. Even the homemade root beer is brewed from a recipe that dates back to the days when folks Liked Ike and cars had fins. But we’ll get to that soon enough.
Lunch hour starts early at Del’s. In fact, they fire up the grill at 10:30 a.m. There’s no need to wait ‘til a fashionable hour to get your grub on here -- by 11:15 a.m., regulars are already lining up for their Texas Cheeseburger fix.
That bountiful burger, the most popular dish in the house, equals a third-pound charcoal broiled Black Angus patty loaded with two strips of bacon, a small pile of shredded cheddar cheese and thick-cut pickled jalapenos. The whole thing is topped with “hickory sauce,” mayo, lettuce and tomato. With fries and a drink it’s just $7.50.
Other options include Smoked Franks with chili and cheese ($3.85), BLT’s ($4.15) and some dang good beer-battered onion rings for $1.75 – but make it $3.50 for two orders.
While you enjoy your Grade-A comfort food, tune in to the “ambiance” around you. Del’s has plenty of it. The walls are peppered with old black-and-whites, tin signs and even a rifle or two. Restrooms are marked with life-sized cut-outs of Marilyn and James Dean.
As for that homemade root beer, “When we bought the place we got the recipe from the original owner,” Taher explains. “[It’s] a long process.” He estimates he and his staff pour about 150 servings of the stuff each day, and it’s always been a favorite. Sip one yourself from a frosty, ice-cold mug and you’ll see why.
Del's is open Wednesday through Saturday ‘til 9 p.m. and is a special treat on a cold evening when you’re in the mood for something warm and fuzzy. Safe and happy in the quiet little diner, you’ll hardly miss the hustle of another night on the town. Just relax and unwind, because at Del’s, it’s all about the bright sign outside that says “Texas” and a welcome reminder that some things never change.