Social Garage #4 lived up to its name on a weekend in downtown Seneca.
My wife and I had plans on the east side of La Salle County, so we reached out to a longtime friend in Seneca who we hadn’t seen since pre-pandemic, and set up a dinner destination in the new restaurant in the village.
After all, good friends and good food are two things worth traveling for.
Social Garage #4 held a grand opening in October 2021, but temporarily closed in January to adjust its meal offerings and business plan. The restaurant reopened in May with an updated menu including appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and pizza, plus a buffet and salad bar, plus a full bar. Large signs on the front of the building and “Now Open” feathered flags make it easy for outsiders to locate the restaurant on Main Street.
The main entrance opens into the bar, which is decorated in a mix of 1950s-themed furnishings and automotive decor. Those planning to dine in can turn right into the dining area and place orders at the counter, then sit in the dining area, bar, or outdoor dining area. Orders will be brought to the table.
Our trio arrived during dinner rush hour and settled into a booth in the dining room, which was a little quieter than the bar and more suited to informal conversation. The first order delivered to our table was a pair of appetizers – the Italian beef spring rolls served with juice ($9), which the waiter recommended on request, and the fries loaded with three types of cheese, bacon and green onion ($10). Both starters were easy to share between the three of us.
Our entrees consisted of the Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich ($10), Garage Fire Burger ($12), and Mac and Cheese with Bacon Added ($8). The menu did not list prices, but we received an itemized receipt. The restaurant’s Facebook page reports that no meal costs more than $15.
The beef brisket received favorable reviews online and was among the server’s recommended menu items. The Garage Fire burger — topped with jalapeño, cayenne, and red peppers in addition to pickles, spicy mayonnaise, and ghost pepper cheese — gives off a heat that lingers after every bite. The mac and cheese is thick and rich – it goes well with a savory dish, like the seasoned fries my wife shared on my plate.
Speaking of fries: salt lovers like me will be addicted to them. The potato strips are heavily sprinkled with salt and pepper.
The three of us stayed chatting long after the plates were cleared. No. 4 Social Garage’s dining hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but the bar stays open later, so we carried on the conversation until nearly 10 p.m. The business lives up to its name by being a social space – in fact, the restaurant offers a lounge social space at the front of the building with retro-style sofas and a floor-standing TV console, which the owners plan to use eventually for classic black and white TV program loops. After a meal, guests can retreat to the social lounge for drinks and company.
Social spaces are important in a community, and the #4 Social Garage offers diners another place to meet and connect with others.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee of Shaw Media. The identity of the diner is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits another restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not post a story.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
WHAT: Social Garage No. 4
WHERE: 301 N. Main St., Seneca
INFORMATION: Facebook at tinyurl.com/bdfcjbht