Ladies and gentleman, Thornton Park is back. If you’re like most city residents who felt that something was seriously off in the neighborhood, while its signature property (at the normally bustling corner of Summerlin and Central) sat vacant for a year, you’ll be thrilled to know that the heart of the ‘hood is beating again since the opening of Soco Thornton Park.
A downright handsome establishment marked by warm natural light, ample warm wood tones, and an abundance of even warmer hospitality, Soco is the newest concept from the Thornton Park Restaurant Group. With a menu lovingly curated (and yes, you will taste the love) by award-winning executive chef Greg Richie, Soco serves up “southern contemporary” fare, which Richie deems “a new and adventurous culinary approach to [traditional Southern] dishes that we have all come to know and love.” Expect to find your favorite southern dishes re-imagined with unexpected ingredients, creative influences and impressive visual flare.
“This is seriously the best meal I’ve had in this town in a long time,” says Christopher Logan of Thornton Park. “Every single dish I’ve sampled tonight was fantastic. It was disheartening to see this property vacant for so long but a meal this good was well worth waiting for. Have you tried these Pork Belly Biscuits with jalapeño jelly? The balance of heat and sweet is perfection!”
While the main courses at Soco are top-notch (hint: the Grilled Meatloaf on Lobster Mashed Potatoes is a crowd favorite), prices can run a bit high at this establishment. As such, a great way to make the most of your first visit here is to make a meal, tapas style, out of a variety of Soco’s amazing Small Plates. In addition to the Slow-Roasted Barbeque-Glazed Pork Belly Biscuits [$11], which are, indeed, sublime, other “do not miss” items include: the Soco-Style “Chicken and Dumplings” ($11, carved chicken breast, lobster dumplings, local mushrooms, edamame, and soy butter), the Crab-Stuffed Deviled Duck Eggs ($12, with crisp bacon, lemon and truffle), and the Cornmeal Crisped Oysters ($9, with pickled green tomato relish, chicharrones, and herb cream). Each dish is markedly different and distinct in flavor and texture, yet all are equally and impressively delicious.
Once happily satiated by your savory Small Plates, indulge in something sweet from the sumptuous dessert menu. The House-Made “Moon Pie” Pie ($7) is a delicious take on a childhood favorite treat, but it is the Potato Chip Crusted Chocolate Cake ($9) with peanut brittle and salted caramel that has everyone around town buzzing. Or if handcrafted cocktails are your style, Soco doesn’t disappoint. The Manhattan-ish and the Watermelon Cooler ($12 each) are customer favorites, but also consider giving The Sparkler a try. Also, rumor has it that Soco just might have the best Bloody Mary in town. Made with over 100 ingredients, Soco proudly serves it at the new Sunday Brunch (for which you can actually make reservations, hallelujiah!) Whether you stop by on a weekend or on a weeknight, by all means, make sure you pay Soco a visit for a meal that invites you to get reacquainted with southern cuisine (in a whole new way) while also reminding you of everything you love about Thornton Park. “Hopefully, when a guest tries one of my dishes, they will experience a feeling of nostalgia, along with the enticement of the new,” says Chef Richie.
“But more than anything, I want them to have a wonderful meal that they can be excited to tell their friends and family about.” Consider your wish fulfilled, Chef Richie.
SOCO – Southern Contemporary Cuisine 629 E. Central Blvd. Orlando, FL 32801 | 407-849-1800 | socothorntonpark.com