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FOOD REVIEW: Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Pam and Gary Graham operate Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char in Norman.
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FOOD REVIEW: Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char

Less than a year ago, I found myself at 1150 W. Lindsey Street in Norman, enjoying a fine lunch at Toby’s American Grill, which was owned and operated by Hal Smith Restaurants.

This had not been the first rustic restaurant-bar-and-grill concept to feature Toby Keith’s name at this same location, as in 2014, Toby Keith’s Big Dog Daddy Ice House had tried – and failed – after a short period. The same fate befell Toby’s American Grill. In retrospect, I was a little surprised. It was pretty good, as I noted in my review at the time.

Now, I’m not sure of all the down-and-dirty details of why Toby Keith’s restaurants seem to go down in flames in what is essentially his hometown, nevertheless, Mr. “White Trash With Money” (who still draws a lot of water in this football-crazy town) has vacated and a well-run, locally-beloved eatery – Penny Hill Deli (which added “Bar and Char” to its name – has been in town since the early 1980’s) has taken its place.

And after witnessing the enthusiasm of the staff, the engagement with customers and decidedly good food, we suspect Penny Hill will be here for a long time to come.

Gary and Pam Graham – both natives of Caddo County (Gary from Anadarko and Pam from Binger) – opened this new Penny Hill location after closing the only two Penny Hill locations in town.

And yes, there is a major construction project taking place on Lindsey Street right now, as the roadway is widened. But on this particular weekday, the lunch crowd was steady and the food was tasty and served in a timely manner.

All the while, Gary and Pam are moving around the large, cedar-paneled restaurant, festooned with Sooners memorabilia, an aquarium and much, much more, including an old Binger Bobcats seat cushion from Pam's days at that high school (now Binger-Oney High).

Sitting in the middle of the main eating area (there was outdoor seating as well, and it is divided - by the bar - into two indoor eating areas - seating a total of 180 max), my service was top-notch as I settled on their Reuben sandwich ($10.99) with a side of refried beans ($2.99). An odd combo, perhaps, but it was a hearty meal and that dark rye hoagie bread was fantastic - and hot, after being grilled to perfection. I noticed, later, that they offer a Reuben Dog, one of the half-dozen or so "Dog Show" options, featuring 1/4 lb. all-beef, Kosher dog, and served with French Fries and House Chips - for $6.49. Perhaps on my next visit ...

My Reuben and refried beans at Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

And as the added "Bar and Char" part of the name acknowledges, they offer a pretty extensive menu, with appetizers and soups. and many different sandwich options, as you can imagine.

"The menu is quite a bit different," adds Pam. It's different in that there is so many items to choose from. 

Gary Graham laments the impact the widening of Lindsey has had on local businesses - "Eight businesses have closed down," he told Red Dirt Report - but fortunately for Penny Hill, it has not kept locals and students away, if this mid-week lunch crowd was any indication.

"We had 730 people show up on the first day we opened up here," he said, noting that grand opening date of May 12, 2017, adding that their "mom and pop"-style and it being a locally-owned eatery has only helped Penny Hill gain a following over these many years (they took over in 2003).

And with school back in session and football season a few weeks away, one could only imagine Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char retaining longtime old customers and plenty of new ones, once the word is out. 

Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char
1201 S. Berry Road
Norman, OK 73072
Phone: (405) 366-8767

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Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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