Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: IDS Eats Critiques: Social Cantina makes for a fun night out

<p>A chips and salsa flight from Social Cantina appears Wednesday. The flight includes a choice between two salsas and either white-cheese queso, guacamole or Cali-guacomole, which is topped with pico de gallo. </p>

A chips and salsa flight from Social Cantina appears Wednesday. The flight includes a choice between two salsas and either white-cheese queso, guacamole or Cali-guacomole, which is topped with pico de gallo.

If you’re looking for a fun place to go on a date or have a margarita with friends, Social Cantina is the place for you.

Located on the corner of College Avenue and Sixth Street on the downtown square, Social Cantina serves “modern Mexican street fare” such as tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, dips and bowls. The restaurant also has over 100 bottles of tequila and serves freshly-squeezed lime margaritas.

The well-designed menu has something for everyone.

The chips and salsa flight appetizer is a great way to try several dips and salsas at once. My group opted for roasted red salsa, verde salsa, house-made guacamole and the white cheese queso. 

All four choices paired well with the house-seasoned tortilla chips. Both salsas were tangy with the verde giving the most kick. The guacamole was a little brown, but ended up tasting fine. The queso was delicious and creamy.

The Social Nachos came with house tortilla chips, white cheese queso, mixed cheeses, house-made guacamole, tomatillo crema and pico de gallo. For an additional cost you could add a meat or meat substitute. 

The nachos themselves were pretty much a culmination of the salsa and chip flight with an added tomatillo crema, which was flavorful and rounded out the appetizer well.

The chicken tinga taco was large and came with shredded chicken, cabbage, cali guacamole, tropical pico and tomatillo crema. Once again, the ingredients combined to create a great dish. The tropical pico was a great addition and gave the taco a nice twist.

My friend and I decided to split a “Social” margarita and added the guava flavor. It came with Espolon Reposado tequila, triple sec and a house sour. The guava flavor was refreshing and sweet. The margarita was strong, but you wouldn’t know it until you were finished.

The service was fantastic, and our waitress was friendly. 

Although there was an hour-long wait, there were water crafts waiting for us once we got to our table and our orders were taken as soon as we were ready.

Our drinks took a little bit to come to the table, but it was very busy for a Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. The food was in front of us in reasonable timing.

All employees were wearing masks, there was a hand sanitizer station at the entrance and our table was cleaned before we got there. The restaurant uses a QR code menu to limit contact.

The atmosphere was ridiculously fun. There was good music playing and the ambience makes for a fun night. Seating options include booths, tables, high tops and a bar inside. 

There are fun lights all throughout the restaurant including neon saguaro cacti and neon pink flamingos. Walls are accented with wood planks in intricate patterns and the colors on the walls correlate with the booths and splashes of color on the floor.

As much fun as the interior is, the pricing seems to lack the same consistency.

The chips and salsa flight was $12. Yes, it was a lot of chips, but in the grand scheme of things, the four choices of salsas and dips didn’t really amount to a whole lot. 

Same with the nachos. Yes, it was a lot of food, but for the same $10 I can go to Social Cantina’s sister restaurant, Smokeworks, for barbecue pulled pork nachos and not have to pay $2-$4 more for a protein.

The chicken tinga taco was a phenomenal value at $3.50, and is comparable to other similar taco prices in Bloomington. 

A chicken tinga taco from Social Cantina appears Wednesday. The taco is topped with tropical pico de gallo. Hunter Haines

The “Social” margarita pitcher with the guava flavor ended up being $28. I know it’s because it’s a more expensive tequila, but I’ve had better margaritas with the same volume for much less in town.

Individual tacos will cost you between $3.50 and $4.50, while most other dinner options run between $7-$13.

Graphic by Abby Carmichael

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