It doesn’t seem likely when you walk in the door, but one of the Dallas’ great new burgers is at a White Rock cocktail bar that takes its design cues from the Marfa desert.
Once you find parking in the small strip mall lot, there’s the unassuming door to Lounge Here. “Is this it?” my friend asked as I bounded into 9028 Garland Road, unsure if I was accidentally walking into a shuttered barbershop or a scented candle store by mistake. Mid-century modern booths, begging you to wear turtlenecks, indicate that I’d landed in the right spot.
Some Dallas cocktail dens can feel a little pretentious. Once, I witnessed a bartender (at another bar) light a match over my cocktail, snuff out the fire, and whisk the smoke over the rim of my glass. By the time the cocktail made its way to me, there was no smoke aroma and I felt, somewhere, Pete Wells was crying.
Lounge Here may have the feel of an overcooked cocktail den, but the burger tastes like the best ones you made in your backyard. Over the flames of the grill — one of the juiciest I’ve had from anything other than a flat top — the Here Burger sizzles. It’s an 80/20 sirloin blend, and they press it to the grill with an iron weight. The result is all caramelization and the flavor of char that takes you back home.
It tastes like the burgers flipping at the Fraternal Order of Eagles pool in the summertime, or the charred patties you pile up on wide plates and serve to friends when it’s 105 damn degrees. There’s just salt and pepper on the patties, and they’re smoky and juicy.
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The toppings are elevated, but not cocktail-lounge-overwrought: Simple arugula, naturally peppery, meets grilled onions and tomato. On my burger, the white cheddar is melted immaculately, and there’s a house ranch sauce along with a butter bun. Pickles, made in-house (is there anybody left who doesn’t make their own pickles?), make for electric pops of acid when thrown under the bun. It’s fun eating.
Lounge Here could have killed their burger with some overwrought, pretentious concept or loaded it up with some high-strung artisanal trends, but they didn’t. At least, it doesn’t taste like it. It’s a great burger topped with cheddar. With a neat Kentucky bourbon, I devoured the whole thing. Smoky bacon, crispy on all sides, accentuates that home-cooked flavor.
It almost makes you forget you’re in a dark cocktail bar.
Lounge Here, 9028 Garland Road