If you were a younger person living in Dallas in the late 1800s, Mayer's Garden might have been one of your hangouts. According to archived stories from The Dallas Morning News,
Mayer's Garden was described as an "early pleasure resort of Dallas." We're not quite sure what that means, but the original venue on Elm Street offered live animals, live music and beer that flowed seven days a week.
Flash forward to the end of 2021 and a new Mayer's Garden has opened on Henderson Avenue and hopes to bring that same spirit of revelry to the space that used to be occupied by Jake's Burgers. Dallas restauranteurs Austin Rodgers and Garrett Mayer are behind the new establishment, which is nestled among other popular spots like High Fives, The Whippersnapper, The Old Monk and Spider Muprhy's, among others.
Inside Mayer's Garden, warm wood and plenty of plants soften the industrial aesthetic.
Rodgers, who also runs the Alamo Club on Lower Greenville, told the Morning News
that he was looking for a historic name for his newest venture. With partner Mayer coincidentally sharing the same surname (there's no relation), the fit was perfect for Mayer's Garden.
We stopped into Mayer's on a recent Monday to check out the new space. You won't find a zoo as you did in 1881, but the new iteration has a modern industrial interior that blends indoors and outdoors seamlessly, thanks to massive garage-style doors that open the patio to the dining room. Inside, the main dining room features plenty of warm wood tables and caramel-colored chairs, which softens the industrial tones. A massive television sits on one wall but is surrounded by wrought iron shelves filled with plants to reinforce the garden name.
If you can avoid giggling while ordering a bowl of "nuggies", you're a better person than we are.
We grabbed a seat at the concrete-topped L-shaped bar and perused the menu. The shareables section of the menu opens with half a dozen items, with choices like deviled eggs, hummus, or an elote dip stretching the bounds of usual bar far. We wanted to try the elote dip, but our friendly bartender told us they were out of it for the evening. In its place, we started with an order of taquitos ($11) filled with smoked chicken and longhorn cheddar cheese then topped with shredded iceberg lettuce and a mild lime crema.
Our eyes were also drawn to the menu section labeled "Nuggies," which admittedly is a word we don't see on menus that often. "Nuggies" are either chicken or portobello nuggets, battered and fried, then served by the bowl along with two dipping sauces from a quartet of choices. Intrigued, we opted for the more traditional chicken nuggies ($11) and came away impressed. Each bite of moist chicken was encased in a golden fried casing that managed to be crunchy all the way to the bottom of the bowl without becoming soggy. Odd name aside, a bowl of the addictive nuggies is easily enough for two people to share.
The BLT at Mayer's Garden gets an update with a fried green tomato.
The rest of the menu is fleshed out with a selection of salads and sandwiches, including a clever take on the traditional BLT ($13) that subs in a fried green tomato and adds a flavorful Old Bay remoulade. We also tried the blackened cod fish tacos ($13) and found the fish to be fresh and flaky, but the blackening rub could use a bit more kick in our opinion.
For a Monday night, Mayer's Garden sported a decent-sized crowd. While Monday Night Football
aired on the televisions, young professionals in collared shirts and tailored pants seemed to make up the largest percentage of patrons.
Rodgers and Mayer envision Mayer's Garden as a game day spot, and it's easy to see the appeal of meeting up at Mayer's Garden with a group of friends. Solid food choices and a trendy space add to the appeal, and when spring weather arrives, we can see the patio at Mayer's Garden as a great spot to eat and imbibe on Henderson Avenue.
Mayer's Garden, 2422 N. Henderson Ave., 3 p.m. - 2 a.m. Tuesday - Friday, 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. Saturday, 11a.m. - midnight Sunday.