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Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House: A Really Cursory First Look

Signage? We don't need no stinkin' signage!

Before I tell you how hard I’ve fallen in love with Goodfriend, the East Dallas pub that opened Monday, I must tell you that I am not to be trusted. I live within walking distance of Matt Tobin’s new place (he of Vickery Park fame). They sell beer. I can walk there. Or I can drive there and then walk home. I am therefore totally biased.

Last night I had time for exactly one beer on the way home (promise). I popped in around 6. The undersized parking lot (all the better to promote walking and biking) was already full. A couple of kids in private-school uniforms gamboled about on the spacious wood patio in front. I saw a dog. Inside, the 20 or so seats around the horseshoe-shaped bar were nearly all occupied. Music so cool that only Zac could ID the artist played at a level that did not discourage conversation. I grabbed a barstool and leaned into the well-built handrail. (All bar handrails should be convex. Why this is not a federal mandate, I don’t know.)

Goodfriend offers 10 regular draft beers (Avery Jones Pilsner, Stone Self Righteous, Boulevard Tank 7) and six rotators. I ordered a Lagunitas IPA ($5). Before I could take my first sip, the thirtysomething couple next to me introduced themselves. They grew up in Dallas, met in Austin during grad school, and now live a block from Goodfriend.

“We’ve been waiting for this place to open for a year,” the woman said, “ever since we moved in down the street.”

“I’ve been waiting for this place to open for a decade,” I told her, “ever since I moved to the neighborhood.”

Friendly banter! With my neighbors! In a bar! And I can walk home! (Believe me when I tell you that the exclamation points are not ironic.)

The interior is welcoming, spacious without feeling empty.

Without being asked, the woman suggested I get a hamburger. Hers, she said, was delicious. Goodfriend grills 10 varieties, each made with a “proprietary blend of all-natural, grass-fed beef.” Examples: Loretta (with onion-bacon jam and Shaft blue cheese, $10), Redneck (with crispy Rudolph’s bologna, Redneck cheddar, red onion, lettuce, and Miracle Whip, $10.50), Latin Lover (chorizo burger with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and manchego, $10), and Jumping Bean (black bean burger with an avocado tostada, $9). You can also get a turkey burger for $8 or a Rudolph’s all-beef hotdog for $4.50. The fellow sitting to my port side — again, without being asked — said I shouldn’t overlook The Wing Man (a pound of hot or mild wings served with fixins, $7). Alas, as I told the friendly bartender when he asked if I was hungry, if I’d arrived home with a full stomach, the missus would not have been pleased. I forwent the comestibles.

I left wanting to return as soon as possible and to stay much longer. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long. Only this morning I got an email from someone who lives just a few doors down from me. She is organizing a going-away party for another neighbor. We will gather at Goodfriend. And me, I will walk.

Goodfriend is open seven days a week, from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The kitchen closes at 11 p.m. I’m sure brother Bill Holston will be along in a bit to include in the comments what I herein overlooked.

28 comments on “Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House: A Really Cursory First Look

  1. burgers are actually grilled by the kitchen next-door at Good 2 Go and handed over via a peek-through window

  2. I love this place already. Great selection of beers. I had the Ommegang Rare Vos, a Belgian style Ale and a Boulevard Take 7 Farmhouse Ale. I met a couple, Greg and Alyson, friends in the neighborhood, who we met at Cafe Momentum. We shared appetizers all of which were excellent. We had fries and their version of pigs in a blanket. Both were very tasty. (I was walking, so I felt I could.) I expect a new place to have a few kinks, but the service was just outstanding. Helpful, friendly and courteous. Very well done. We stood outside both nights. Actually, most of the seats were filled. So the fact the service was so quick is really impressive.
    Saw musicians, and writers I know.
    Walking over, I walked along Creekmere, and startled some wood ducks.
    This is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. It’s a great eclectic crowd and there were lots of dogs on the porch.

  3. Just as I feared, when the East Dallas finally ended its decades old dry laws, our much coveted vacant buildings would start to be converted to restaurants, gathering places and businesses.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I hear of two more restaurants also planing to move into other vacant underused properties.

  4. Love the review, but you failed to mention my brother, Josh Yingling, who is co owner with Matt. And of course, Vickery Park mgr/ tender for several years! Can’t wait to see the place when we make it down from Ohio!

  5. Mmmm–Bill, you forgot the pulled pork and queso nachos with house-pickled jalapenos! And the Rogue Hazelnut! As the Alyson half of “Greg and Alyson” I second Tim and Bill’s reviews. Although new to the ‘hood, our new Goodfriends are great neighbors!

  6. Cannot wait to ride my bike over! Now can someone bring some of this growth and ingenuity to the empty buildings at the spillway?!

  7. Wifey and I will be walking (walking!) over tomorrow night for beers. This seriously changes our little hood. I have to say, however, that I wish they had kept the “Texas Trap” name…

  8. This place is Great. Its about GD time that East Dallas has a great spot to hang out to eat & drink at. The Sausage in the pastry and mustard sauce appetizer might be addicting.

  9. I’m happy for all you East-Dallas Folk to have a nice hangout to get good burgers and good beer. I was very disappointed when the kitchen refused to sub a black bean patty for a beef one on a different burger because it “wouldn’t taste good”. It’s one thing to not serve vegetarian options, but to only offer an uninspired veggie sandwich, and a Blackbean Burger with an Avacado tostada atop it, at a carnivore-centric resturaunt, and then refuse to open the rest of the burger menu to me because you know what tastes good and I dont, is absolutely ridiculous. Who are you trying to impress anyhow? Obviously not the vegetarians. So get off your high hefer

  10. And oblige me while I hang out with my good friends, who were more uncomfortable and embarrassed eating their burgers, than impressed by your soup nazi antics. Nice place though.

  11. I ate there last night. I agree that it is so nice that our neck of the woods is getting good places to eat. My burger was delicious. I’m not a big drinker of alcohol and they didn’t have their tea equipment set up yet (my drik of choice). But (I assume) one of the owners was right there to let me know it was in the works, and gave me a sample of their really good home made root beer. I thought the Miracle Whip was strictly served on their Redneck Burger to continue the theme, but it’s served instead of mayonnaise on all burgers. I overheard the waitresses having to explain Miracle Whip to practically every table in my vicinity.

  12. what a fantastic opening on Monday. love that they also feature beer pairing suggestions for all their burgers. my latin lover + blonde bombshell was delish and aspirational.

    matt and josh are all over this place in a way that will make it quickly beloved to many. can’t wait for many more shenanigans at this spot.

  13. Prediction: Once Marc Cassel’s joint opens up next to Goodfriend, that strip across the street will begin to change. Out go the laundromat and tattoo parlor. In come more new joints that will make our little corner of East Dallas even more delicious. Give it three years. Maybe less. (But that Tortas shop needs to stay. Try it if you haven’t yet.)

  14. That’s good news, Beda. I was there last night too and was simply told they didn’t have iced tea and there was nothing for the kids to drink other than boring fountain sodas. It’ll be great to have homemade root beer. I think I just had a grumpy server.

    I also had the veg burger. It was a good option. Maybe get tired of it since it’s the only option. But for now, it’s just fine.

  15. Went the with hubby last night and the burgers were OMG delicious! The buns are simply gorgeous — homemade, perfectly toasted, and perfect ratio of bread to patty. Also, for all of us iced tea drinkers out there– tea machine is up and running; I had several glasses of it last night (Friday, 10/21), and I can attest that it tastes exactly like a glass of tea should. :o)

  16. @ Tim; good luck with the Peavy Road Washeteria going away. Looks like they have recently undergone somewhat of a refurbishment.

  17. Glad to know it is open, now can’t wait for a Veggie restaurant to open up that will serve some meat.

  18. I was just informed that as of Thursday, substitutions will be allowed! Matt Tobin is a good guy, he was in a battle with the cooks, and apparently I helped him win his argument (His wife is a Vegetarian!). I know that a lot of meat eaters don’t care about vegetarians, and that’s fine, (my wife is a meat eater!), and I honestly felt bad about making a stink, it’s a nice place, good people. Nobody likes an angry ((drunk) I didn’t eat, just drank lots of beer)) vegetarian. I agree. Thanks guys! See you soon!

  19. Jill and I watched the series there last night. What fun! This is such a great neighborhood spot. We’ve met several new friends, sat and had a great time with a young couple and her roommate, while we watched The Rangers take Game 4. The place erupted in applause. Lots of dogs, kids and great draft beers.

  20. I have now eaten dinner at Goodfriend and can echo the reports above. Friday night, I went with the turkey burger and was not disappointed. Then I went back Saturday at noon and had a couple Avery Joe’s Pilsners. I wasn’t disappointed then, either.

    One sight sums up this place for me: Friday night on the sidewalk in front, a chopper was parked next to a baby stroller. That’s solid.