Headed to Tallywackers? I have one piece of advice for you: take a sweater. While I didn’t see the dial when I visited recently, I’d guess the thermostat was set to meat locker, as evidenced not only by my own shivers but those of the scantily clad waiters that surrounded me. Despite all of the vivid red paint and tablecloths that tried to warm the room, a host stood stiffly at the stand near the door, vigorously rubbing his arms. Hasn’t anyone heard of shrinkage?
Tallywackers is the first ever pectstaurant, certainly in Dallas, and maybe anywhere, ever. It features dudes (bros? dude-bros?) who clearly spend more time in the gym than the rest of us, wearing shorts that wear like undergarments and tank tops that somehow maintain their shape despite being repeatedly pealed off and put on again. Based on the press photos, I’d assumed the waiters worked topless, which I found a little disturbing. But they actually wear skimpy shirts, until a customer requests a picture, which happens fairly often.
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“Shirts off!” The call came from across the room as a table of teenaged ladies requested an action shot with the servers. The whole place fell into slow motion, as ripped hunks grabbed the shoulders of their shirts and peeled them upwards over their washboard abs. The teens turn the place into their own underage Chippendales, as did the girl celebrating her 17th birthday at a table near the stage. Yes, the waiters sung, if you’re curious about holding your own fête du saucisson at Tallywakers, though I didn’t notice a candle in Megan’s slice of chocolate cake.
Despite the Oak Lawn address, Tallywackers isn’t so much a gay destination as a destination for anyone interested in being served a hamburger by a bulge and twitching pecs. I saw a table of gray-haired gents, a table of mail carriers, and numerous tables of friends catching up over lunch. Really, as far as the customers go, this dining room didn't look any different from any other dining room in Dallas. There may be a few more televisions hanging on the walls, and the dance pop soundtrack (Pink and Katy Perry) replaces the Dallas standard Pandora classic rock, but other then that, Tallywackers seems ready for date-night.
Which is why I’m bummed that S&M burger pictured above hadn’t been cooked with a little more care. Tallywackers is kind of fun, but no fun is worth beef that has been completely wringed of its very essence. The patties are made onsite — obviously, because sautéed mushrooms were stuffed inside the puck — but they were subsequently torched on the grill. Regardless, the Texas Toast gets a tentative thumbs up as a bun, if only because it delivers superior toasting and butter flavors. Other sandwiches I saw shuttled through the dining room (eyes above the beltline, please) looked less than outstanding, but the biggest tell is the paper menu, which looks like it was designed on a laser jet printer by a high-school student before it was stuffed into a plastic jacket.
Let’s take this all with a grain of salt, as right now Tallywackers’ tenure can be measured in days, but the place looks like it could use some help from a designer and restaurant consultant. It has the feel of a concept that is a great idea, but it’s not being executed as well as it could be. If they iron out those issues, I have a feeling that this budding young enterprise (let’s be honest, this isn’t fine dining) could be about 80 percent as successful as Hooters, which means there will be at least one in every state by the end of the decade — that is of the ownership doesn’t get cleaned out by a lawsuit over objectification of pretty men or other workplace hazards like nipple-chaffing.