Taco Sherman Oaks

SOCA Switches to Boneyard Cocina + Cantina in Sherman Oaks

Chef Aaron Robins flips SOCA into Boneyard Cocina + Cantina, expanding on his Boneyard brand in Sherman Oaks and serving “authentically inauthentic” food.

Sherman Oaks’ fanciest restaurant, SOCA, shuttered in early October. In its place chef/owner Aaron Robins quickly did an about-face, creating a more casual concept: Boneyard Cocina + Cantina. The new restaurant leans toward Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean fare—a reboot that Aaron hopes will build on the success of his nearby eatery, Boneyard Bistro. It’s been a local favorite for BBQ, beer and bourbon for the past 13 years..

“I want people to have fun with food, and at SOCA people were always so stiff,” Aaron says. With Boneyard Cocina + Cocina, he’s aiming for “the upper side of casual but definitely everyday.” Prior to SOCA’s closure, Aaron tested tacos on the bar menu and got great feedback—helping inspire the switch.

Diners should expect a share-friendly menu with “authentically inauthentic” fare. As Aaron explains it. “Except for barbecue, I don’t really follow the rules.”

Guacamole is a big deal here. The avocado dip occupies a prime menu position in the top left corner and is available with embellishments like king crab or chicharrones and bacon.

Sea Scallop Ceviche

I started my meal with a sea scallop ceviche dressed with a potent combo of roasted tomatillos, serrano chiles and garlic chips. They plate the silky shellfish with an avocado fan and sesame seed shower.

Tacos come on griddled, locally made Kernel of Truth Organic corn tortillas. Cuban-flavored carnitas are the signature topping, but I opted for jerk shrimp with pineapple salsa and punchy habanero guacamole.

Tacos range from $5 to $7. “$5 taco is the new $1 taco,” Aaron says. “$1 taco, I don’t want to know where that’s coming from,” referring to the ingredients.

Fried empanadas feature thin dough filled with sweet plantain and earthy black bean, spooned with chimichurri sauce.

Boneyard Cocina + Cantina does serve some large plates. Their chopped salad is uniquely flavorful, tossed with sweet crab and shrimp, grilled corn, tomatoes, onions, avocado, hearts of palm, fibrous jicama, salty cotija and cilantro lime green goddess dressing. Grilled skirt steak with red chimichurri butter and a generous pile of patatas bravas is another notable entree.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Red Chimichurri Butter

The bar program, rooted in rum and tequila, also draws heavily from Latin America and the Caribbean. Signature drinks include The Old Man And The Sea—a mix of Papas Pilar rum, Plantation pineapple-infused rum, cachaça, Amaro di Angostura liqueur, Jamaican bitters and sweet banana. They’ve retained a few gin and tonics that were popular at SOCA. There are some international varietals on the wine list, but the most inspiring choices are from California regions like Santa Barbara, the neighboring Santa Ynez Valley and Napa.

The revamped interiors include aqua and leopard print walls and brown cushioned booths. The signature Boneyard skull and cleaver logo stamp a window and wall, but—like the new concept—it speaks more to a playful state of mind than anything serious.

14015 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-301-4300