Another trip to the bustling main drag of Manayunk found us taking in the newly opened SOMO, a spacious and attractive American bar and restaurant competing for the area’s foot traffic.
The staff is friendly and the restaurant has the retro-modern visual flair that is all the rage these days. SOMO’s menu features a nice range of tastes and styles most diners have become accustomed to over the last 10 years, ranging from comfort food to Italian, Asian and Latin-inspired favorites.
The crispy tempura calamari ($11) had the look and texture of the classic starter but the calamari itself was woefully under-seasoned, bordering on bland. Thankfully, there were marinated jalapeños and a strong ginger sweet-and-sour sauce to take up the slack.
Far more successful was the ahi tuna, a cool, refreshing and tasty dish lightly seared in sesame and resting on a bed of wakame seaweed to brilliantly contrast the tuna. A lovely ponzu and ginger aoli tied everything together.
SOMO has something called Buddha Bowls ($19) on the menu, allowing diners to choose proteins, veggies and other accoutrements to their liking. And we would have been all over it except the shrimp and grits ($18) were calling our name. Thank goodness we answered. In our experiences, chefs either try to reinvent the wheel or go for flawless nostalgia when taking on the classic Southern staple, and SOMO falls into the latter category by not overthinking the dish and focusing on delivering a home run. These shrimp and grits hit all the right notes with buttery-velvety grits, tender shrimp, spicy hints of chorizo and spot-on shrimp gravy. It was the perfect soulful comfort dish for a chilly night.
SOMO’s attention to comfort food carries over to the dessert menu, featuring sweet and enticing staples like banana brioche bread pudding ($9), a fall apple fritter ($9) and a warm chocolate tart ($9).
Main Street Manayunk is awash with numerous places to satiate one’s appetite for food and drink. But with its classic style — both visually and on the menu — SOMO is someplace we want to see more.
If you go
4311 Main St.
Mon.-Tues.: 4 p.m.-1 a.m.
Wed.-Thurs.: 11 a.m.-3p.m.& 4 p.m.-1 a.m.
Fri.: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
Sat.: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
Sun.: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. & 4 p.m.-1 a.m.