Just after Valentine's Day, the Cedars Social, the Cedars' struggling neighborhood cocktail bar, became the Cedars Socíal, a modern Mexican restaurant helmed by a powerhouse trio: restaurateur Monica Greene, chef Anastacia Quinones and bar manager Leann Berry. The restaurant has been gaining a serious foothold in Dallas' growing modern Mexican food scene, and this week, the Cedars Socíal launched something new: a backyard taco bar.
Cedars Socíal turned what used to be a shipping container bar into a self-contained taco-slinging unit serving a small menu of tacos, tortas and elotes for lunch Monday through Friday. The new taco bar opened Tuesday, and there's serious potential in the small but mighty menu.
These bright, colorful tacos give Quinones a chance to stretch her legs during the lunch hour, when Cedars Socíal is closed.
"We wanted to bring street tacos to the Cedars but add my signature to them by making flavored masas," Quinones says. "Our goal is to introduce flavored masas to the masses."
The four tacos on the menu, ranging from $3-$4.50, blend fun flavor profiles: pork belly, grapefruit and serrano coriander crema on a cilantro-corn tortilla ($4); fried redfish and cucumber slaw with a black bean puree on a carrot-habanero corn tortilla ($4.50); tender lengua, queso fresco and watermelon radish with avocado on an ancho corn tortilla ($3).
The tacos are big enough that two or three are plenty for lunch; a table of two could split the entire taco menu for a well-rounded lunch by adding flaming hot elotes ($4) or chicharron nachos ($5). The menu also includes quesadillas (a vegetarian option, made with roasted mushrooms, Oaxaca cheese and spinach and arugula will set you back $5) and tortas.
Since you'll be dining on the quaint cactus-accented patio, there are also paletas from Social Ice ($3.75), a rotating agua fresca and a small beer menu with options for micheladas and frozen margaritas. It may seem daunting to eat tacos with hot sauce outside on a 100-degree Dallas day, but we grabbed a picnic table seat in the shade and, thanks to the breeze, never even broke a sweat (really). Added incentive for the lunch crowd: Our entire visit, from ordering through cleaning our plates, took less than 20 minutes, giving us enough time to cap off lunch by popping over to the nearby Sandwich Hag for iced coconut Vietnamese coffee, our summer 2018 caffeine hit of choice.
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There's a lot of culinary creativity in the Cedars right now, and this makes the downtown-adjacent neighborhood even more friendly to a downtown crowd looking for a fast lunch with a sense of place. The Cedars Socíal's new street taco stand is in its infancy, but everything we tasted was fresh, bright and inventive, making for a quick, inexpensive lunch from one of Dallas' biggest rising-star chefs.
The Cedars Socíal, 1326 S. Lamar St. The backyard taco bar is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.