Did you know that there’s a Caribbean paradise right here in Raleigh? At the corner of Oberlin and Clark, conveniently located in Cameron Village and just outside of Downtown Raleigh — you will find Soca, a Cocina Latina featuring menu items found in regions such as Jamaica, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, and Fajardo. The name of the restaurant is the Peruvian word for sugarcane and is also a popular style of Carribean music.
The new concept was brought to life in 2017 by the same team of people that operates one of Downtown Raleigh’s most popular local restaurants — Buku. The three co-owners are Tony Hopkins, Todd Ohle, and Sean Degnan. Soca’s sister restaurant has two locations in Raleigh (Downtown) and Wake Forest (Heritage).
Drink in the Atmosphere
Soca’s space is open and vibrant. The large windows let the sun shine in! It also has a fantastic outdoor patio, that is just made for sipping on a Shaved Ice Daiquiri on a summer afternoon. Other craft cocktails on the menu include Little Mendoza, which is a take on a Manhattan with a Malbec reduction and the La Piña Loca, which is one of the best takes on a Pina Colada I’ve ever tasted!
There’s also a beer list, which includes local brews along with beers from Nicaragua, Brazil, and Jamaica. The wine list is also quite unique, featuring vinos from Argentina, Spain, France, and beyond.
” Soca brings unique flavors to Cameron Village where we share our exotic culinary story seven nights a week during dinner service and on the weekends during brunch. Many of the items on the Soca menu allow diners to travel to unfamiliar lands without needing to leave the comforts of the Triangle. The available dishes are inspired by the foods commonly eaten in the over 20 countries represented on the Soca menu.
While you might not find Brazilian Feijoada, Peruvian Anticuchos, or Puerto Rican Mofongo in many restaurants within the beltline or even in a resort in these countries, you will find them on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Lima, and Fajardo in vendor stalls or in the homes of the people that live in these exotic lands.
A Taste of the Caribbean for Everyone
Soca’s dinner menu features a variety of small plates, raw dishes, and traditional dishes of the Latin American region. Popular small plates include the refreshing crab stuffed avocado, charred octopus, and Argentinian Charred Pork Cheeks. One of the most popular entrees is the Huachinango a la Veracruzana, which is a fried whole red snapper with green olives, capers, roasted local peppers, lemon, and arroz verde.
It is expertly prepared by Soca’s Peruvian chef! An entree that I recommend is the Jamaican Callaloo Fried Rice. This is a vegetarian dish that includes fried shallot, sesame, slow poached egg, bell pepper, ginger, local leaf spinach, preserved okra, and mango chutney. The unique, rich flavors of this dish definitely “wowed” me – I can’t wait to go back and order it again!
A unique feature of Soca’s menu is that there is truly something for everyone. You can request a gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan menu, which features modified versions of the dishes to suit any diet. I love this extra step Soca takes to accommodate guests. This is truly a great spot to take a large group of people with a variety of dietary needs and preferences.
With so many unique and delicious dishes, it’s difficult to save room for dessert, but you should definitely make an effort to do so. Soca recently won the Indy Week Best for the Triangle Award for their dessert menu, which features items such as Caribbean Rum Cake and Videri Colombian Chocolate Mousse.
Another dessert item that caught my eye was the Pay de Guayaba, which is a guava tart with pineapple sorbet, fried plantain, dulce de leche, and spiced crème fraîche.
Wine Dinners, Music, and Brunch at Soca
Enjoy Soca’s regional wine selection paired with exclusive dishes at Soca’s monthly wine dinners. The next one takes place on Friday, June 15. Can’t attend this time? Follow Soca on Facebook to be notified of upcoming events. Starting this summer, look for live music events on the patio.
In addition to these upcoming events, Soca offers dinner and drink features daily. Be sure to ask your server about them! They also have a banging brunch menu available on the weekend, so what are you waiting for? Start planning your next date night, or brunch with the ladies. Soca is the perfect spot for everyone!
About Soca Restaurant: Cocina Latina
Soca derives its name from several sources: a Peruvian word for sugarcane, a popular style of Caribbean music, and inspiration from a well known geographical divider, the Tropic of Cancer. Located just north of the Equator, this line of latitude divides many countries around the world. Soca centers its focus on the islands and Americas south of this geographical border (south of the tropic of cancer).
Our complimentary valet will promptly greet you and escort you up the steps leading to our large Cabana style patio. Venture inside to the bar and snack on some Trinidad Chana Nuts and an ice cold Red Stripe. Crafted rum and tequila cocktails excite while a varied selection of mezcal, pisco and cachaça please even the most adventurous of guests.
A large selection of Latin-inspired street and Caribbean soul small plates lead the menu. Share, mix and match and have fun, before moving to our entrée section and dine on street-inspired dishes of robust steak, elegant fish, exotic lamb and chicken dishes followed by flavorful and exotic postres.
A variety of dining options help make the restaurant a unique experience for all kinds of guests. Our casual fine dining level of service and atmosphere lend themselves nicely to any occasion, including important celebrations, business dinners, or just a girls’ night out. The large selection of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes means that all diners have plenty of choices.
This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Raleigh Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication via TBN