Latin American inspired venue combines casual curbside bites, elegant dining and sophisticated nightclub
Standing out from the crowd among the plethora of bars and nightclubs that line the uber-popular Wyndham Road nightlife strip in Hong Kong is quite an achievement. The recently opened (September 2012) Socialito admirably accomplishes this distinction with a bold and brash statement of urban chic that cleverly channels the contradictions of the contemporary Latin American urban culture. A multifaceted concept- Socialito deftly combines the boisterous Mexican street food and drinks of the pavement-side Taqueria (taco shop), with the elegant decor of the interior Restaurante dining room- serving a refined and complex Mexican and Latin American cuisine. And after dinner service is completed (Wednesday to Saturday) the Restaurante metamorphoses into a sultry late night club- the Discoteca.
Socialito is the latest collaboration between successful Hong Kong based Buzz Concepts and acclaimed New York based design firm AvroKO, whose previous project together in Hong Kong was the stylish Lily & Bloom ”prohibition-era” themed restaurant and bar. Embracing the current popularity of Mexican food, Socialito offers patrons an enticing variety of dining and socialising options and has carved out a successful niche in the ultra competitive neighbourhood.
The Taqueria ( taco shop)
For the authentic Mexican style street food experience, the Taqueria menu offers patrons a wide selection of bites served on freshly made tortillas- including Tacos, Ceviches, Tostados, and Quesadillas. The drinks list features Micheladas- Tecate beer on ice served with lime juice and chili salt rimmed glass; tequila shots, Mexican beers, and the house cocktails- Frozen Margaritas and the Zumbido- a blend of two aged rums, passion fruit, honey, lime, mint (see photo below).
Culinary team at work in the open kitchen that spans the street-side taqueria.
The open-fronted taqueria extends across the full breadth of Socialito. Corrugated iron ceiling evokes the rustic roadside stalls of Mexico City.
Polished stainless steel covers almost the entire Taqueria- with laminate counter tops and terracotta tiling on the floor adding some contrast. Hand-painted signwriting and retro-neon contributes authentic style to the decoration.
The entrance doorway to the Restaurante is tucked away in one corner of the Taqueria.
A short passageway abutting the kitchen leads to the Restaurante.
The Restaurante & Discoteca
Heading the culinary team at Socialito is Chilean born, American chef William Otis who brings to Hong Kong his extensive experience cooking at two of the leading Mexican restaurants in Chicago. For the Restaurante menu, he has crafted a selection of dishes representing the finest of Mexican and Latin American cuisines, updated with some contemporary tweaks and a modern approach to plating. Some of the standout dishes include Red Snapper Ceviche- with pickled morita, jicama, mango, green olives, onion and cilantro; Anchiote Mangalista Pork- with Habinero pork jus, roasted gold and sweet potato, pickled red onion and chicharones; Soft Shell Crab Tacos- apple jicama slaw, slasa verde; and New Zealand Lamb Rack- served with boracha sauce, spicy grilled chayote, black beans, queso fresco and mochomos.
The well stocked bar serves up a variety of beverage options including a compact wine list of champagnes, reds and whites; imported beers; and premium spirits. The house specialties include a large selection of tequilas and mezcals- with over 80 labels to choose from- many sourced from small batch distillers and artisanal producers. And the cocktail list is headlined with the signature “Specialty Cocktails”- including the El Revolucion- made from chipotle infused Jim Beam, cinnamon, mole bitters, lemon foam & malbec float; Sociarita- jalapenos infused Alacran tequila, lavender-honey, lime , peach & bitters; and the Mayan- Patron Silver tequila, pressed watermelon, lime, summer shrub & cilantro.
After dinner service is finished, from Wednesday to Saturday, the Restaurante transforms into the sultry Discoteca- dining tables are cleared and removed, some banquettes are craftily re-aligned, and the DJ booth is revealed from behind wooden shutters. Sophisticated lighting and sound systems create the party mood, and DJs play a mix of Latin tunes and soul, funk, vocal house, and mashups.
With a seating capacity limited to around 80 guests, bookings are recommended for both the Restaurante and Discoteca- particularly for weekend evenings.
Inspired by the elegance of traditional haciendas, the dining room decor utilises rich dark timbers, intricately carved wood paneling, and wrought iron screens to recreate the sophisticated style of a classic Latin residence.
The front section of the dining room features a long table and luxurious red leather curving banquettes. Overhead the massive custom-made iron chandelier transforms into a sophisticated LED lighting platform for the late night Discoteca. A semi-private dining space is located behind curtains in the background.
Looking back towards the front entrance- the DJs booth is revealed when the shuttered middle section opens out after dinner service ends.
One of the elegant red leather banquette settings- design details include the carved wall paneling and stunning retro-styled steel chandelier.
The impressive cocktail bar spans the breadth of the rear wall- the long, solid timber topped counter fronted with black barstools.
Selected highlights from the kitchen & bar
Cochinita Pibil Sopes- Achiote Pulled Pork, Pickled Red Onion, Habanero Sauce, Cilantro
Seared Pork Belly- Guajillo Sauce, Jicama, Mango, Lime Cilantro, Chicharrones
King Banana- Fried Milk Banana, Sour Cream Sorbet, Banana Purée, Cumin Crumble, King Chips
Mayan- Patron Silver Tequila, Pressed Watermelon, Lime, Summer Shrub, Cilantro
Zumbido- Havana Club 7 & Denizen Rum, Passionfruit, Honey, Lime, Peach Bitters
The Don Old Fashioned- Don Julio Reposado Tequila, Grand Marnier, Mole & Orange Bitters
La Turista- Macchu pisco, island spices, angostura, lemon, orange essence foam.
Socialito – Taqueria • Restaurante • Discoteca• Hong Kong
Address: G/F, The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street. Central. Hong Kong
MTR: Central station – Exit D1 – 5 minutes walk.
Enquiries: + 852. 3167 7380
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/SocialitoHongKong
Taqueria- Monday & Tuesday 12:00 pm ~12:00 am / Wednesday to Saturday 12:00 pm ~ 2:00 am
Restaurante- Monday to Saturday 6:00 pm ~ 10:30 pm
Discoteca- Wednesday to Saturday 11:30 pm ~ 3:00 am
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