There’s a certain romance to a meal wrapped in brown butcher paper. When the butcher reaches across the counter and hands over the weighty little parcel, wrapped oh so perfectly in a way no mere mortal can ever seem to replicate at home, it feels delightfully old school. And since only the best things come wrapped in butcher paper, it also comes with a certain implication about what’s inside: meat and cheese, two of man’s simplest and most universal indulgences. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what Goodfriend Package offers: simple, tried-and-true delights.
Located across the street from its big brother, Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House, the new Goodfriend Package offers a pared-down experience: sandwiches, Cultivar coffee and a selection of bottled craft beer that spans an entire long wall. The East Dallas spot is owned by Josh Yingling and Matt Tobin, the duo also behind the Blind Butcher. At their latest venture, the menu is small and straightforward: for lunch, 11 sandwiches, almost none of which are unfamiliar to a seasoned sandwich-eater. For breakfast, 12 options ranging from steel-cut Homestead Gristmill oats to scrapple and eggs on griddled sourdough. The vibe is straightforward, too — there’s no over-the-top layout or design, just a couple big, communal wooden tables, a wall of beer coolers and a butcher counter staffed by exceedingly friendly bearded gentlemen, tattoos peeking from the sleeves of their T-shirts. On the other side of the room are smaller tables set up near a crate of records for sale, curated by the owner of Good Records.
Another seating option: the coffee counter that serves as the new home for Cultivar coffee. The coffee bar and roaster abandoned its post across the street inside Good 2 Go Taco and moved into Goodfriend Package last week, a move that means Cultivar will now be open 11 hours a day, seven days a week. The crowd at this to-go sandwich spot is true East Dallas — groups of hoodie-wearing 20- and 30-somethings are interspersed with moms in head-to-toe moisture-wicking fabric, their manicured hands clutching Louis Vuitton wallets while their offspring ping pong around the room. The dynamic is sure to shift now that Cultivar has taken up residence in the space full time.
Goodfriend Package also doubles as a bottle shop with an impressive selection of single bottles for sale, ranging in price from $1.24 to $30. Good luck knowing which you’ve selected, as prices aren’t marked, but there are price breaks at both six and 12 bottles. The selection (and the fact that you can buy only single bottles, not six-packs) is meant to encourage exploration — just don’t do any exploring on premise, as alcohol consumption isn’t permitted in the store. There are plenty of craft root beers, chocolate milk and the obligatory Topo Chico to tide you over.
The sandwiches, too, are served in to go-friendly packaging, though most people seem to grab a seat to enjoy a moment with their meat. If it’s not busy on your visit — it hasn’t been on my last three — a sandwich will be in your hands before you’ve even had a chance to give that beer selection a thorough look. The drive to East Dallas took longer than my entire lunch. That’s the beauty and efficiency of sandwiches — and these sandwiches, refreshingly devoid of over-the-top ingredients like confit goose or charred mandarin marmalade, are certainly efficient.
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The menu is anchored by the classics: B.L.T, pastrami on rye, roast beef, club. There’s only one sandwich on this menu you likely haven’t had before: the mushroom pastrami on rye ($10). Portabello mushrooms are brined for three days, seasoned and smoked, creating a texture and flavor profile that is as close to meat as any vegetarian could hope for — though non-vegetarians shouldn’t shy away from adding a few strips of their house-made bacon. The sandwich is made all the more indulgent with Swiss cheese, house sauerkraut and “Million Island” dressing on marbled rye. All of the bread comes from Empire Baking Co., but just about everything else — from the corned beef to the biscuits, sausage gravy and even condiments like butchers’ mustard and bacon fat mayo — are made in-house at the commissary kitchen.
And that, in the end, is really what makes these standard sandwiches special — the recipes may be as old as time but the attentiveness to each individual component makes them sing. The bacon fat mayo used for the B.L.T. ($9) is a glorious touch on a sandwich that is simultaneously simple and heavenly. Is there anything better than a well-made B.L.T. on griddled white bread? When the bacon is made in-house, there certainly is not. The same goes for the Reuben ($11.50), which is the best I’ve ever had, made with thick slices of the most delightfully fatty corned beef. If you’re curious about where your meat comes from, just ask — Goodfriend Package is committed to sourcing meat locally.
There are rotating side dishes like potato salad with bacon and a kale salad, but none had quite the same zing as their sandwich contemporaries. The tomato soup ($5), while perfect for dunking the grilled cheese into, is lackluster when consumed on its own.
In the morning, a hearty breakfast awaits. There are items you’d expect a butcher shop-esque spot to have — corned beef and potato hash, for one — but you’ll also find avocado toast ($4), pancakes ($6.50) and beer biscuits with a sausage gravy ($4) that I recommend adding to just about anything on this breakfast menu. Despite it being a hair too salty, it was good enough that I found myself eating it with a spoon as if it were the world’s unhealthiest soup. The beer biscuits are hearty, fresh and make a messy but lovable breakfast sandwich when paired with a local egg and bacon or sausage. Add cheese, of course — and a side of gravy, always.
Whether for breakfast or lunch — or just a moment of zen while hunting for an unfamiliar bottle of beer — Goodfriend Package nails it by doing one simple thing and doing it well, which is refreshing in a dining landscape filled with places trying to be everything to everybody. You may not be surprised by the menu here but you will be surprised by how much you enjoy its offerings.