Photography by Sean McGinity Second-floor bars are rare in Dallas. This one rewards climbers.

Stone Street Martini Lounge: A Bar For Grown-ups

Tucked away in an upstairs spot off a downtown pedestrian street, it requires some effort to find. But it’s worth the trouble.

It was raining when I stopped by the new Stone Street Martini Lounge for
lunch. I parked off Elm, slipped money into the meter, and slid into
the rhythm of people walking the sidewalks. People carried umbrellas,
clenching their coats tightly to their chests—or wore jeans and carried
the top halves of pizza boxes over their heads. I headed for the
Campisi’s sign and hooked a left into a narrow pedestrian street.
Snorting, pneumatic construction vehicles to my left, wet patio tables
to my right, up a flight of wide hardwood steps and into the bar with

It was a quiet day just after the holidays, and I was there a little
after lunchtime. The bar was nearly empty. Made sense; lunch at a
martini lounge might not be high on everyone’s New Year’s resolution
list. Then, too, the bar was only a couple of months old, and lots of
folks didn’t know about it yet. But the music was loud and warmed me
from the inside—funk and soul, the really good stuff. Marvin Gaye and
Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Al Green’s “Let’s Stay
Together,” a song Quentin Tarantino nearly ruined for me in Pulp
, but, really, Al Green is indestructible.

Al Green might be the right guy to describe the Stone Street Martini
Lounge. It’s a place for grown-ups. Housed in the old Woolworth
building, the bar has tall tables. The tops are thick and wooden. Wide
sectionals under the loft-looking windows are plush and square. Bottles
of brightly colored booze nest in squares punched out of a gray wall
behind the bar. Highly styled, sleek, and modern-clean. None of which is
the source of Stone Street’s charm. It’s all about the
tucked-away-ness. The second-floor-ness. The
If Dallas is a city often criticized for having everything up front and
on show—and it is, with varying degrees of truth—then Stone Street is
something a little different. It takes a little work to discover it.

One Friday night, we sat near a multigenerational group of men having
dinner. On a Saturday, we sat next to a group of beautiful young women
celebrating a bachelorette party. Stone Street’s a lounge, not an MTV
spring break party, so the women were urbane and chatting. Still, before
too long, the bride-to-be was posing for photographs with a half-dozen
of the guys sitting at the bar—revenge, apparently, for a photo her
fiancé had just texted from his bachelor night out.

I was tickled to see that the drinks menu included some martinis that
felt coconutty in a Mad Men kinda way and also underwhelmed by the dry
ice in the fiery cayenne Smoke and Spice martini. The sports and sitcom
reruns on two of the three ornately picture-framed TVs also took me out
of the lounge vibe a tad, though I get that people in bars want to watch

By the time you read this, construction should be finished on the
billiards and library rooms. The billiards room will have a fireplace,
and the library, behind a “secret” wall, will have books. The Stone
Street Martini Lounge is owned by the Visionary Restaurant Group, (also
responsible for BlackFinn American Saloon). Stone Street has a corporate
feel, which extends to the staff. On both my visits, the chef checked
on us and the staff talked about the new rooms coming.

I have been rereading old books of poems, seeing which ones I still
love. Someone once told me she read Anna Karenina every 10 years because
the book changed every decade. It was a romance, then a mother’s story,
then the story of life’s limitations. This was the sign of a good book,
my friend said, something big enough to return to over and over. I
would argue that this is a sign of many good things. I thought about
this in connection with the martini lounge, a genre of bar at once
narrow and enormous, the way a sonnet is narrow and enormous (such
restriction, such flexibility). There’s much I wouldn’t want to revive
from the three-martini-lunch days, but there’s also something appealing
about a cool drink in a tall glass while watching the world whorl
rainily below.

For more information about Stone Street Martini Lounge, visit our online bar guide. Write to [email protected]