Colton’s Social House (Clovis, CA)

At the beginning of August, we went on a one-week backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park. After a week of carrying backpacks in elevations above 8000 feet, when we returned to Fresno, it was time for a celebratory dinner. We were staying in a hotel adjacent to the Fresno Airport, which, while very convenient for travel, isn’t exactly a food mecca. But a quick check of the map showed that nearby Clovis, CA had a lot of good looking options, especially for the combination of “beer” and “burgers” which always seems to be one of my top post-backpacking cravings. So we ended up taking a short drive to check out Colton’s Social House.

Colton’s is one of the outbuilding on one of the area’s strip malls, with a nice building that’s got both a very nice outdoor patio (we considered it, but instead opted for the indoor climate control) and a large indoor dining room. They’ve got more than a little bit of a shtick going on with the “Social” theme. Your waitstaff is composed of “social therapists”. They don’t have “reservations”, but instead have “appointments”. Etcetera. But despite the quirkiness, it’s your basic sort of “modern pub” atmosphere, with an outstanding tap beer list featuring regional brews, a handful of house-special cocktails (and a list of classics), some relatively cheap wine, and a menu focusing on “upscale bar food”. (And there was one eyebrow-raising item that you wouldn’t see out our way; while Colton’s has a “Happy Hour”, it’s actually surprisingly late, from 10pm to midnight. I wonder if other places in central CA are similar).

As frequent readers know, one of my many menu weaknesses is a wedge salad. I love the basic concept of an entire wedge of lettuce, piled with bacon, bleu cheese, onions, and tomatoes. Colton’s version of this is a bit unusual; first of all, it’s not really a wedge, more of half a head of romaine (in their defense, the menu clearly calls this out). The onion is actually in the form of onion straws, which also is starting to steer this even further away from a classic wedge. But the rest of this dish was solid: good amounts of bleu cheese and bleu cheese dressing. Some tasty, well-crisped bacon. Even a bit of radish to give some bite. Despite the unsusual formulation, this was actually quite a good salad, and scratched my wedge salad itch quite well.

Few things taste as good as a good burger after a hiking trip, and Carol gave into that temptation with their “Therapy Burger”. This was one of those sort of “shock and awe” burgers with a huge list of ingredients. Angus patty, house-smoked pulled pork, cheddar, a bacon and green chile mac and cheese, BBQ sauce, and chipotle aioli. Yeah, one of those. But really, the ingredients all worked here. The patty itself was good, with a nice sear. The pulled pork was Carolina-style, tender, and having just enough smoke. The bacon and green chile mac would have been great as a dish on its own, and was just “crunchy” enough to be a great burger topping. The sauces tied it all together, and while rather mess, this was a great burger.

Myself, having been ill for part of the trip, went for a simpler burger: their Drive-In Burger. This was their basic “classic California bacon cheese burger”: lettuce, tomato, and onion (all applied below the patty in proper California fashion), a great burger patty with just the right amount of griddle sear with melted American cheese, and some nicely crisped bacon, all with just a bit of their house sauce (a close variant to Thousand Island dressing), all on a lightly toasted bun to get that right amount of toasty crunch. This was a good burger. Heck, a great burger. Nothing terribly fancy, but perfectly done. Probably one of my favorite burgers of 2023.

So, overall, we really liked Colton’s Social House. Good ambiance, good staff, and just the sort of place to relax with a few beverages and burgers after some outdoor activities. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back if I find myself around Clovis again.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply