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July 20, 2022

Glazed tempe with gold rice, summer squash, and collards.Photograph by Caroline Tompkins

The opening menu featured a whole pig with a smoked oyster vinaigrette—a nod to Justice’s training as a butcher—that leaves behind no waste. “We purchase whole pigs and everyone eats off of this animal this week,” says Justice. From this pig, Justice serves a number of cuts on one plate—the loin, the belly, and a trio of pork products.

The space, designed by architecture company Carpenter and Mason’s Sarah Carpenter, keeps inclusivity in mind. Dining chairs aim to accommodate the physical needs of many different bodies, including larger people and those with chronic health problems. The restaurant is as “warm and womb-like” as possible, an invitation for everyone to get comfy. There are soft pastel tones and leather-padded corners to avoid shop corners. Pink heart-shaped vanity lamps placed at the center of every table—cultural elements reminiscent of movies like Clueless or Legally Blonde—are there to remind you that HAGS doesn’t take itself too seriously. The kitchen, where Justice works as head chef, is painted bubblegum pink; the walls are lined with artwork, including pieces she made. “Chefs never get to look at art,” she says. The rounded green bar, reserved for walk-ins, will serve an à la carte menu. 

Lindsley serves natural wines that highlight queer winemakers, and curates a non-alcoholic menu with “botanical magic potions” like hemp-infused, non-alcoholic spirits.Photograph by Caroline Tompkins

The restaurant also seeks to make trans folks comfortable in ways beyond simply degendering bathrooms. The pair installed a funhouse mirror in the bathroom, typically a carnival attraction that distorts reflections into fun shapes, to serve as a “campy commentary on the trans experience of dysmorphia,” Justice says. “We want people to feel a sense of play and joy at HAGS.”

Lindsley serves natural wines that highlight queer winemakers, plus beer and sake-based cocktails. She also curates a nonalcoholic menu with “botanical magic potions” like hemp-infused nonalcoholic spirits and rose lemonade for alcohol-abstaining diners who are usually subjected to little other than soda or juice. This week though, Champagne will flow. Because as Lindsley puts it, “Just getting to opening night is a celebration.”

HAGS opens for dinner July 20. The restaurant will be open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, from 5–10 p.m., and on Sunday from 5 p.m. until late. Reservations are available on Resy, and the bar is reserved for walk-ins.

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