I tend to avoid the southern quadrant of the West 7th Street corridor. It’s great for tourists, TCU kids, and balding dudes trolling for partners two decades their junior. But for me, who is not any of those things, dealing with the general malarkey around there is a lesson in the law of diminishing returns.
Adding together these gripes and my general antipathy toward drinking outside in 100-degree heat, I avoided America Gardens until last Saturday. But after my boyfriend and I took the dogs for a long walk on the Trinity Trails, the weather was too beautiful to head straight home. There aren’t many places open at 11:30am on Saturday that are pet-friendly and have servers who won’t scoff at you ordering only liquid brunch.
In keeping with the patriotic pop-culture theme, I’m dubbing America Gardens’ patio entrance process The Ms. Pac-Man. We kept walking around the perimeter to find padlocked gates. Eventually, we slipped through one accidentally left unsecured and onto a totally empty 10,000 square-foot patio. I called out to the lone employee in the distance to be sure they were actually open, and he assured us they were and a server would be along soon.
A rarity at certain bars in this sector, each staff member we encountered from that point forward acted like he or she was genuinely glad to see us. The cheerful Janelle greeted both the pups and us immediately after we snagged a picnic table. When she asked if she could bring a plate of free dog snacks to the table, both quadrupeds cast their votes for the next president of the United States. To theoretically replenish any lost electrolytes, I ordered a Martin House Salty Lady first, because I like to pretend it’s Gatorade with alcohol. But after a look at the extensive drink menu, we decided to stay for another round and test some specialty cocktails.
Almost everything at America Gardens, predictably, sticks to the all-American theme. So be prepared to tip back Ben Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, and Taylor Swift transubstantiated into cocktail form. The Elvis Presley is as pretty in presentation as it is potent, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, vanilla syrup, lemon, and muddled strawberries and topped with Southern Star Brewing Company’s Bombshell Blonde lager. Much like Marilyn Monroe herself, the cocktail that bears her name is light, bright, and oh-so-juicy, mingling together Tito’s vodka, fresh watermelon, muddled cucumbers, and lime. Sorry, single-malt scotch, but the Marilyn Monroe is so good I’m going all JFK and declaring it my official side-piece sipper of the season.
There’s plenty of other drinks to try, like a Dak Prescott and Selena Gomez snow cone or a frozen Jameson Mule made with ginger puree. My only complaint is someone missed out on creating a perfect frozen boozy Arnold Palmer. The bartender was handcrafting the drinks instead of working from pre-mixes, which was evident from the fresh flavors and quality of product. Even our garnishes, like the watermelon spear in Marilyn, clearly hadn’t been languishing in the cooler for days.
The stereotypical crowd for this area started filtering in around noon: Dallas visitors, a cute couple with a German Shepherd, a table full of selfie-taking ladies in matching hot pink tank tops and yoga pants, and the sorority girls who clearly had gone hard on Friday night and needed the hair of the dog to repair them. Still, it was not unpleasant to have a mixed bag of humans and dogs floating about under those shady Texas live oak trees. I’m not sure if America Gardens gets crazier once the sun sets, but I’m willing to find out.
2833 Morton St, FW.