Open 7 days, 12PM to 2AM
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Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
(Thanks to our friends at Roebling Lofts for sponsoring this video!)
(Covid Update Dec 2021 – in business)
In the history of Trenton, the 2011 opening of Trenton Social will mark an important turning point. Social is a hip, slightly upscale bar and restaurant that many cities have in abundance, but which previously had eluded Trenton. Now an established institution, Social is the place to find Trenton’s movers and shakers: white, black, straight, gay, artists, artisans, politicians, performers, brokers and bankers… you’ll find them all hanging out at Trenton Social having a good time. If you know anyone in Trenton, you’re likely to run into them at Social.
The mastermind behind Trenton Social is TC Nelson, an experienced restauranteur and long time Trenton resident. He had run Trenton’s sole bagel shop for many years, but his real magic touch is in the bar/restaurant scene. He and his team have turned the building that had once housed Trenton’s famed “Urban Word Cafe” into one of the city’s most vibrant businesses.
Trenton Social is always hopping. From the Social Ride (a monthly bike ride through the streets of Trenton) to guest chef nights to Cinema Thursdays to First Fridays (the regular art openings that happen on the first Friday of every month) to Social Sushi–there is always something happening at Social. They host a monthly LGBT happy hour as well. There is also regular live music (Tuesdays are open mic nights, other nights are programmed). If you aren’t in the mood for music, you can escape it by moving between the dining room and the bar (wherever the act isn’t). Check out Social’s Facebook page (link above) to find out what’s going on.
TC stocks a good bar, and most of his bartenders are pretty great (a few are slower than we’d like). There is a rotating tap of interesting beers to choose from, as well as a decent wine selection (not really a “list” but an extensive selection of pretty good house wines). The food is average for this class of establishment: better than most bars, but well short of fine dining. The burgers are pretty good, and when you’ve had enough booze you will devour the parmesan fries that they come with. We’re big fans of the mac and cheese balls, as well as the three cheese ravioli, which is decadent beyond belief. TC has a variety of salads and some pretty good fish tacos (if you ask for them vegan, he will make them with portobello mushrooms instead of fish). While there are a number of items we really like, we wish the menu provided more variety. If you frequent Social (and many people do), you can get bored with it. That said, the menu is veggie friendly, and even vegans will find something they can eat (though not quite earning a “Vegan Friendly” tag). Prices are on the upper-end of Trenton establishments, but more than reasonable by any other standard.
On the way to the bathroom, the walls are lined with “scotch lockers”–beautifully crafted locked cabinets with engraved nameplates. You can rent one for the year (currently $100) and TC will stock it with your favorite scotch (or other liquor). You pay for the bottle, the pours and mix-ins are free. Each scotch locker also has a humidor. You get a key, and the bartenders have one as well. It’s a pretty great way to feel like an “insider” at your local bar.
Social’s bar is open 7 days until at least 1 AM. The kitchen stays open until midnight Thu-Sat, and until 10 PM every other night, which makes it “late night” by Trenton standards. When the weather is seasonable, you can dine outside in their patio, which is covered with trumpet vines.
Social has a private parking lot (behind the bar on Ferry Street) so you don’t have to contend with street parking. If it is full, there’s always parking on Centre Street as you head up toward Broad (over the bridge). Most people enter the bar through the patio, which can only be accessed from the parking lot.
All carping aside, Trenton Social is one of two great bars in Trenton, and one of the very few places we rate 5-hearts.