Handcrafted Cocktails, Curated Eats and Community Meet at SOCIAL
Written By: Yolie Liang
Photographed By: Bradley Blackburn SOCIAL Costa Mesa
Name: Andrew Dorsey
Credentials: Co-Founder and Owner of SOCIAL Costa Mesa
Years in the Restaurant Biz: 10
The concept of sociality is not simply an abstract attribute; it can be a fulfillment that customers find at a restaurant. Former bar owner Andrew Dorsey presents the concept of sociality through exquisite interior design, thoughtfully curated menu, and handcrafted cocktails at his new-American restaurant, SOCIAL Costa Mesa.
You can immediately feel the social vibe once you walk into the restaurant. The communal tables and open floor plan create a welcoming environment and a dining-altogether atmosphere. The seasonally changing menu is not only infused with a combination of southern dishes and local ingredients, but also made to match the creative bar program.
Q: Andrew, what is your background in the restaurant industry?
Andrew Dorsey: I started a restaurant in 2006 in Anaheim with my brother, called 195 Downtown Grill. We had it for seven years and moved out because the rent was tripled. I took some time off, got married and started to work on the new concept, SOCIAL.
Q: What inspires you to implement this new-American concept? Was there a particular moment that was a turning point?
AD: I think it all comes from my travels and all the different restaurants I’ve tried. Ever since I was a kid, I paid close attention to the menu, the bar and different types of food. Up until the present day, I frequently check on different concepts through social media. The turning point was living in Costa Mesa with my wife—every weekend we always look for places to have fun, high-energy restaurants with progressive food, good environment and bar program. Soon we ran out of places to eat and were inspired to open one.
Q: In what ways do you think SOCIAL differs from other bars and restaurants in Orange County?
AD: We’re different because we have a one-of-a-kind menu that is always changing, seasonal, and alive. It matches the bar program while some restaurants don’t. We have everything in one: good cocktail program, great food, lively energy and atmosphere. It’s like a one-stop shop for everything you want for dining.
Q: What are your ideas for menus and decorations that help bring out SOCIAL’s vibes?
AD: We have two big communal tables that fit 15 to 30 people. It really promotes people dining together, and reflects the concept of SOCIAL. The open floorplan in a separate room also provides the feeling of dining with everyone altogether. The menu design incorporates the shared plate concept. We recommend customers to order multiple dishes to share and further promote interaction with one another. In addition, the reclaimed wood “social” wall is a hot spot for people to take insta-worthy photos and promotes the use of social media.
Q: What are your inspirations behind the wide range of handcrafted cocktails?
AD: The inspirations are simply our pursuits to raise the bar in Orange County. We love coming up with different types of glassware and creative cocktails to show people that it’s fun to create. For one of our most popular cocktails, Gunslinger, we infuse actual smoke into a cocktail. To make it a classic, we play on an old fashion by adding bourbon, black tea syrup, and Chinese five-spice bitters with actual smoke trapped inside the bottle. It comes in a wood board where the server pours in the cocktail and let the customers smell the smoke. It’s a fun and interactive way to show that mixology is not as pretentious. It’s social, interactive and approachable.
Q: Were there any difficulties in mixing classic southern dishes with California ingredients? What changes did you make to adapt to Californians’ preferences?
AD: With the new-American and Californian cuisine, it’s a broad spectrum of what we can do, which is also why we like it so much. This allows us to do a different spin on all types of cuisine using local resources and Californian ingredients.
Q: What’s your vision for SOCIAL?
AD: To continue to be progressive and evolve as a restaurant by continuously pushing the envelope, being creative and staying on the cutting edge of trends.
Q: What is up next with SOCIAL, any seasonal adjustment to the menu, special events or promotions?
AD: Lots of exciting stuff happening. We’ve got Oysters for “a buck a shuck” on Tuesdays plus Industry Night, half off cocktails. Fried Chicken is back on the menu for Sunday Supper and new dishes being added to Sunday Brunch. We are updating our space by expanding the bathrooms, and adding more lounge seating. With that additional change, we will also be introducing a late night happy hour from 11 p.m.—1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Let Me Take a Selfie: The reclaimed wood “social” wall is a hot spot for people to take insta-worthy photos and promotes the use of social media.
Top 5 Cocktails
In Love with the Coco
Black Magic Woman
Top 5 Dishes
Wagyu Tri Tip
28 oz bone in Ribeye
Wood Grilled Branzino
SOCIAL Costa Mesa
512 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Communal Tables, Crafty Cocktails, and Appetizing Eats Are Waiting For You at SOCIAL