When I saw that a hip bartender friend of mine checked into a place called ‘Here’ last year –he intentionally misnamed the place to maintain secrecy– a place with a name that begs the question, “Where?”, I was instantly intrigued. Since then I’ve been to Lounge Here many times, sometimes twice in one week because I love it so much but was hesitant to write about it because I too, wanted to keep this little East Dallas gem all to myself!
9028 Garland Rd., Dallas, TX 75214
What’s so special about Lounge Here? For starters, it’s easy to overlook its plain, white exterior among the vibrantly painted shops adjacent to it. Second, it’s nestled in a neighborhood known for housing more mature and laid back residents (think Austin vibe before it was overrun with hipsters!) than flashy Highland Park or Uptown neighborhoods.
Once inside you immediately notice a stunning photo mural of the Marfa landscape, surrounded by sleek mid-century modern booths. With incredibly low lighting around the main seating area and the brightly illuminated bar, one can’t help wonder if Lounge Here is a bar or a restaurant. This particular debate raged on for an entire evening the first time I visited.
Try both the food and drinks and decide for yourself. If you expect a bar when walking into Lounge Here then your ideas of bar food will be shattered as you sample dishes such as the delicate ahi tuna poke served with jasmine rice sprinkled with nori dust –perfect as an entrée– or the katsu-style chicken fried rib eye covered in a generous pour of duck fat gravy. Save your daily calorie splurge for this dish, people!
The most surprising thing to me, living in a city that’s in love with its celebrity chefs, is that the chef executing these mouth-watering dishes, Chef Megan Foley, which include daily and weekly specials (e.g. beef tenderloin skewers with soy-truffle glaze; pan-seared salmon and herbed couscous) didn’t come to Lounge Here fresh from a fancy stage (internship in restaurant speak) and didn’t previously hold the position of sous or chef de cuisine. She’s worked in kitchens for the Cirque de Soleil and Meddlesome Moth and came recommended by Chef Colleen O’Hare (Good 2 Go Taco, Mot Hai Bai, The Keeper) to Lounge Here owners as the most capable person to fill a kitchen vacancy. Sure, Chef Micah Killough (Common Table, Hg Sply Co.) designed the menu but Chef Foley is the person making Killough’s menu come alive and she’s doing an excellent job of it!
The cocktails are stiff and refined from the classic Old Fashioned to the flirty Everybody’s Girl (Austrian vodka, elderflower, Fino sherry, grapefruit and Prosecco) but if you’re in the mood for something more low-key then look to their expansive selection of beers, wines and spirits. And the bartenders have a ton of personality (my favorite is Tawni) to keep you from feeling alone if you happen to be dining or drinking solo at the bar.
This is usually the part where I offer GG Tips, useful nuggets of information to heighten your experience at a certain establishment but I’ve already divulged too much about my favorite restaurant-that-turns-into-a-bar.