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Southern eatery herds crowds downtown

photo 5Thornton Park has a brand-new eatery called SOCO, opened on September 17. SOCO has a beautiful patio area where we were initially seated, but it was too muggy to really be enjoyable. It will be perfect when fall comes around. After beginning to sweat almost immediately, we moved into the dining room.

​Once seated in the very pleasant dining room, decorated in a contemporarily southern manner (real candlelight at each table, vintage light bulbs in the overhead light fixtures, and a gorgeous exhibition-style kitchen), our server Dareile, pronounced like Ariel with a “d,” greeted us warmly. ​Our gracious server suggested the watermelon cooler drink when I inquired as to the best cocktail to order. The watermelon cooler is made with fresh watermelon infused vodka, lime, ginger, pink peppercorns, and mint.

​When my drink arrived I was initially hesitant to try it. I knew I had to make my $12 drink last (all of SOCO’s cocktails are $12),. After what felt like forever, but was probably only about three minutes, I tasted the concoction. I was shocked to find it was so delectable that it could almost have been worth $12, and if you have a disposable income you might easily find it to be worth every penny! It did not have a strong vodka taste, but I could feel that it had quite a kick. Refreshing would be the best way to describe this drink; it was perfect companion to our meal.

​For food we ordered the Lake Meadow Naturals Korean-Style fried chicken with a side of baked squash and watermelon rind casserole, completed with country ham. When you are inside the restaurant, it smells so good that even if you were not hungry at all when you entered, you feel as though you are starving within about 15 minutes. Our food arrived in a timely manner and we could not have been happier. We dug in immediately. As is to be expected for southern-style cuisine, the portions were generous. The food was just as good, if not better, than my drink. The fried chicken had the comforting feel one expects from southern fried chicken, but with a unique twist to it. The casserole was a five star dish as well. I cannot wait to taste their other offerings. Treat yourself; you are worth it!​

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