Lakewood Landing

Dallas, Texas

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

Despite its self-given ‘upscale dive bar’ moniker, Lakewood Landing is no gentrification project, instead a classic dive bar that wears its 50-plus years of history well. The stark white, nondescript exterior gives way to a vibe inside that can be best compared to a 1970s-style steakhouse that still cranks out decent food but might have turned the dial up on dive bar drinks over the proceeding decades.

Field Rating

9

out of 10

No lie I'd order a porterhouse there without blinking.

Field Note

Lakewood Landing bills itself as an upscale dive bar, which is the kind of phrase that conjures up an image of some faux dive bar opened in 2019 with brass fixtures and exposed brick. Thankfully, despite the Dallas dive bar’s insistence that this is an upscale joint, there’s a heavy dose of authenticity in a building opened sometime in the late 1960s without the wholescale overhaul that can sometimes com with the word ‘upscale.’

Outside, ‘upscale’ feels more like an aspiration than plainly written in the all-white construction of what is really a pretty simple building. The sign, the shape of the building, the all-white paint job laced with blue trim, everything points to a simplistic dive bar experience, a set of flying roof beams providing the only real notable feature standing outside Lakewood Landing. Simple outdoor seating, if it can be called that, rings a short patio space out front, the area including running wooden benches rather than any real table or chair. Metal grates cover a pair of doors, the main entrance under a weathered red awning that looks like it would fit well in a dark alley.

Inside, the vibe feels like a vintage steakhouse that has seen some better days, otherwise known as a pretty perfect atmosphere.

Inside, the vibe feels like a vintage steakhouse that has seen some better days, otherwise known as a pretty perfect atmosphere for a Dallas dive bar. The building is deceptively large upon setting foot inside, a number of different areas providing perches to drink from. To the right, an area that looks like the old dining room half of that classic steakhouse from the 1960s, red booths with little lamps at every table to add a splash of ambiance. Wood siding gives way to mirrors half way up the long wall just above the booths, the classic visual trick to make the space feel a bit bigger. Low tables complement the booths, all of it sectioned off from the more serious drinking area of Lakewood Landing by wooden spindles atop a half wall.

Naturally, a classic cigarette vending machine serves as the demarcation signal between dining and drinking. A long slender bar runs along this second half of the bar’s opening room, a small L-shape bend at one end providing a bit of a drinking alcove toward the front of Lakewood Landing. The space here is skinny, the hallway of sorts supported by those wooden spindles about the depth of a bar stool, of which a handful of collected here to provide access to the liquor display in back. Christmas lights run along the top of the bar area, of course, the classic mirrored liquor display treatment given here to a stretch of bottles and glassware.

And if Lakewood Landing stopped there, this would be a nice little Dallas dive bar tucked away in an otherwise nondescript building, but a short hallway (and merch display) leads back to a pool room that looks like it has seen a bit of renovation over the years. Thin wooden paneling runs the length of the space to keep that dive bar charm alive, a stuffed fish and a few framed photos making this room feel like the man cave extension of Lakewood Landing proper up front.

On the way to the bathrooms (the graffiti game is quite strong), another twist in the hallway creates an alcove that features an old plush couch.

On the way to the bathrooms (the graffiti game is quite strong), another twist in the hallway creates an alcove that features an old plush couch, CD-based jukebox, sit-down Pac-Man machine and an ATM for good measure, an island for dive bar misfit toys if there ever was such a thing. Magazine articles dot this space and other parts of the Dallas dive bar, not caking the walls but providing decent visual stimulation to the space. Even a framed, signed Dallas Stars jersey can be found with sufficient inspection, in perfect view of a dusty brown couch.

As far as this reviewer can assess, the term ‘upscale’ has been added to provide a little more shine to the food offering at Lakewood Landing, a robust menu that extends beyond the expected dive bar items (breaded pork tenderloin anyone?) without abandoning old favorites completely (late night corndogs are available, off-menu on occasion). As noted in a handful of Lakewood Landing reviews, the nachos are notable, substituting the usual pile of unequally covered chips for a curated selection of ‘perfect’ nachos, hand-loaded with the perfect blend of toppings.

With its many twists and turns, Lakewood Landing embodies the term ‘upscale’ in a way that shouldn’t scare away devoted dusty dive bar enthusiasts. This is an amazing, larger-than-expected space that takes that grandpa’s-favorite-steakhouse vibe and adds a dive bar layer cultivated over 50 plus years. That some good food can be found (and late hours to consumer it) only adds to the package, making this a Dallas dive bar worth the trip and a corndog or two.

Photos

The Basics

5818 Live Oak St #4334
Dallas, TX 75214

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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