Travel: Hong Kong – Socialito: (n.) “a gathering place” for delicious tacos

We recently had a layover in Hong Kong on the way to our October holiday destination.  We headed down for drinks at Wagyu on Wyndham Street but noticed a new place had opened next door called Socialito and decided to check it out instead.  The aroma of Mexican spices from the open kitchen smelled so enticing that I don’t know how anyone walking by could resist.

Socialito means “a gathering place” in Spanish and is a new Mexican restaurant in the Lan Kwai Fong area.  I love Mexican food and moving from L.A. where we have Kogi BBQ and where the gourmet food truck craze started, it was no wonder why I was attracted to this place.  The storefront of this taqueria was built to resemble a food truck with the open windows and counter-service style.  I love restaurants with open kitchens so you can see the action and it just brings a liveliness to the ambiance.  Behind this casual facade is an upscale Mexican restaurant by the same owners where you enter via an unmarked side door.  Evidently, this place transforms into a night club after hours.  Hm…interesting.  I absolutely adored all the details of this place: the open kitchen, the food truck theme, the eclectic colors and fonts, the neon signage, the homemade bottled hot sauce and the wooden box they’re kept in, the high stools, the music playing from a retro boombox, and hooks underneath the bar!  Ladies, let me repeat, hooks underneath the bar!

We started the evening off with dos cervezas, that’s 2 beers for anyone who didn’t take high school Spanish :).  A Sol (HK$65) and a Michelada (HK$80).  Have you ever had a Michelada before?  It’s prepared differently throughout different parts of Mexico but in general it’s made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces and spices.  It’s known to cure hangovers, almost like a Mexican alternative to a Bloody Mary.  Socialito’s micheladas are made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and Tecate Beer on ice with a chili salt rim.  It tastes spicy but refreshing!  Other interesting drinks on the menu were classic frozen margarita with an option to add artisanal flavor pairings such as, strawberry/cilantro, bacon/chocolate or blueberry/burnt honey and housemade juices or infusions that you can get spiked.

It goes without saying you always have to get chips at any Mexican joint.  We ordered the Guacamole Autentico Con Pico De Gallo served with warm chips (HK$75).  Both the creamy guac and the chunky pico were delicious.  There’s nothing better than when the chips come out warm, and these extra thick and super crispy chips were so addicting!

They have a selection of tacos, ceviches, tostadas, and pasteles/tamales on the menu which all were described so deliciously I almost ate the menu on accident.  We got the Pork Belly Taco (HK$80) which was topped with salsa verde, housemade queso fresco, fresh onion and cilantro, all wrapped in a fresh tortilla.  Holy guacamole!  This was delicious.  Have you had housemade queso fresco before?  Have you?!  The creamy chunks of queso paired perfectly with the crispy salty skin of the pork belly, and of course cilantro adds freshness to everything!

Next up: The Steak Taco (HK$110) with avocado tomatillo salsa, grilled green onion and pico de gallo.  Also ah-mazing.  The steak was juicy, had a nice char, and was perfectly seasoned.  The tacos all come two per order so it’s perfect for sharing, or if you want it all to yourself I certainly wouldn’t blame you.

To polish things off,  I ordered a spiked horchata with rum (HK$50 + shot HK$70).   I hadn’t had horchata in a long time and I wanted to try the grown up version with rum and see if it was worth making my own concoction for parties at home.

It was creamy, milky, sweet, delicious and refreshing.  Everything you would expect from a traditional horchata and the addition of rum was genius.  Ah…this place just takes me back to Mexico City.  Okay I’ve never been to Mexico City but does Spring Break ’01 in Cancun count?  My memory of Cancun is a bit of a blur but that’s another story for another time.

For dessert they also had two flavors of housemade popsicles: chili mango and coconut infused horchata (HK$45 ea.)  How fun!  We were too full this time but we’ll have to try them during our next visit since they sounded pretty awesome.

So, I suppose this wouldn’t necessarily be considered traditional Mexican food, but rather a contemporary and elevated interpretation of the classic taqueria.  But most importantly, it’s delicious.  I wish they had a place like this in Shanghai.  I would definitely like to check out Socialito’s more upscale dining room another time.  It’s the perfect place for a casual night out, maybe even a fun first date, and makes for great people-watching.  I definitely recommend this place if you are in Hong Kong.

The Details:
Socialito | Shop 2, G/F, The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central – Hong Kong | | +852 3167 7380

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