When you’re standing outside of a building, you will usually see a door that is nothing more than the mechanism for entry or exit. Occasionally, however, a door will make itself known as the threshold to something extraordinary. This the kind of door that lets you into The Cedars Socíal.
Wood panels overlap like roofing to form a beautiful, natural design on giant double doors. I grabbed a hold of a semi-circular, metal door handle to let Hanna and Wendy, my mom who was in town for the weekend, into the restaurant. The mid-century modern interior is inviting and comfortable, with an air of sophistication. We sat down at our table and were immediately captivated by the drink menu. Hanna and Wendy bought into our server’s claim that La Chingona is the best margarita in Dallas. The margarita is, admittedly, top notch. The combination of lime and sweetness from the Cointreau tamarind cut the tequila without masking its flavor. I think my favorite element of the drink was the spicy salted rim. I have a long ways to go before I can say anything about it being the best margarita in Dallas, but it’s definitely a margarita worth ordering. I let one ingredient dictate my drink order: chocolate mole bitters. The Manhattan Mole pleased this Manhattan regular (the drink, not the place), combining Larceny 92 Proof, Averna, and chocolate mole bitters. Upon my return to The Cedars Socíal, I think I’ll order a different cocktail not because the Manhattan was dissatisfactory, but because Leann Berry heads up the bar and clearly knows what she’s doing.
And then there was Ceviche de Huachinango. Anastacia Quinones does not mess around when it comes to ceviche. Perfect morsels of snapper split space with big chunks of avocado. The lime juice seemingly melts it all together, creating a texturally delightful playground on which the coconut and pineapple’s sweetness can play with the stronger flavors in cilantro and serrano peppers. My Aunt Janet introduced me to ceviche on a family vacation in Mexico. I think I might finally be able to return the favor if I get the chance to take her to The Cedars Socíal for the Ceviche de Huachinango.
From there, Hanna ordered the Southside Salad with sides of farro and beans, Wendy went with the Mero en Sabana de Papa, and I took the recommendation of ordering the Confit de Pato. There are certainly times that I go out to eat and I feel bad for whoever ordered the salad. This was not one of those times. The Southside Salad is refreshing and flavorful. As soon as it arrived at the table, I immediately started wondering, “Is she going to let me try one of those goat cheese croquettes?” She did and it was everything I hoped it would be. My mom’s dish consisted of a potato-crusted halibut with pasilla butter, carrot mole, and grilled asparagus. The Mero en Sabana de Papa is chock-full of delicious contradictions: light, but hearty; crunchy, but delicate. Finally, we arrive at my crispy duck leg confit, accompanied by an Oaxaca cheese-mushroom tamale and spinach con crema. All three of those items are great on their own. But together, and surrounded by a green sauce worth licking off the plate, they are divine. Chef Anastacia cooks a duck leg to perfection allowing the distinct flavor of the bird to sit perfectly on the crunchy crust. Everyone working in the kitchen at The Cedars Socíal is shining a good light on contemporary cuisine, bringing traditional Mexican flavors to innovative and thoughtful dishes.
I’ve heard that The Cedars Social is becoming somewhat of a concept carousel. I think that stops here. Restaurateur Monica Greene has found a very special combination in Leann Berry and Anastacia Quinones, who I saw win Rising Star Chef at Culture Map Dallas Tastemaker Awards. More than that, they’ve created a unique environment at The Cedars Socíal. Walking in, you’ll immediately notice that the restaurant is one worthy of a special occasion. We saw a group come in with balloons for a birthday. THEY CAME IN WITH BALLOONS! This is what leads me to the other unique element: The Cedars Socíal has captured the warm and welcoming feel of a family restaurant. I think it’s because of all the smiling. I noticed ear-to-ear grins from Leann shaking a libation, Anastacia hustling out of the kitchen, and Monica checking in on our experience. I love going to a beautiful restaurant and eating beautiful food that tastes great, but The Cedars Socíal will give you all that and more. Sit down at a table there, and you’ll feel cared for and witness a labor of love from the team of Berry, Greene, and Quinones. I’m already excited for my return to The Cedars Socíal.