Co-owner Michael Martensen has long held that The Cedars Social is more cocktail den than restaurant. On a recent weeknight visit, the word “den” felt quite apropos. With its crackling 1960s-style fire pit and low-slung ceilings, The Cedars Social was casting a cozy glow. Over the bar, downtown’s Omni Hotel twinkled in the distance. The slowly throbbing lounge music (a prerequisite) was Ibiza cool. Cedars Social’s artisanal cocktails were putting everyone into a good mood, including me as I sipped the Number Four, an off-the-menu blend of gin, honey syrup, and cracked black pepper and cardamom pods. The Cedars Social is freshly off a James Beard nomination for the nation’s best bar program. You’ll get no argument from me. These are some of the finest drinks in Dallas. But Martensen should rethink his assertion that his hot spot isn’t as much about the food. In chef Toby De La Rosa’s capable hands, The Cedars Social turns out first-rate small plates. Kobe meatballs, short rib tacos, and pork belly with green garlic spaetzle all made for great cocktail accompaniments. A daily flatbread special featuring tender prime rib, Brie, and spinach was a hit at our table. However, the delicate salmon tartare did not need the addition of jalapeño oil. And there’s no need to ever add truffle oil to mac and cheese—why make a rich dish even richer? But these are small quibbles. By the end of our meal, we were toasting The Cedars Social’s harmonious marriage of creative cocktails and delicious fare. And ordering another round, of course.

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