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In little more than two years, SOL Cocina on Coast Highway has quickly carved a niche in the culinary community by serving authentic south-of-the-border cuisine in an upscale, buoyant ambiance.
That’s a tribute to Chef Deborah Schneider, whose fresh interpretation of Coastal Mexican dishes has made an impact on the local dining scene.
She continues to make an impact this month by introducing new seasonal offerings to her already extensive lunch and dinner menus.
“This is a great time of year to really showcase the season’s offerings, and my menu revolves around the philosophy that the freshest ingredients ensure the best tasting, most flavorful dishes,” says Chef Deb, who focuses her menu items on sustainable ingredients. “SOL’s menu stays true to the simple and fresh Baja style of cooking, with flavorful dishes built around fresh seafood, premium meats, and more than a dozen fresh salsas made daily.”
Naturally, I needed to sample these new menu items, so I made a foray to SOL to taste Chef Deb’s creations.
One of the items, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco, was a featured recipe in Oprah’s O Magazine. This is a tantalizing tangle of caramelized onion, roasted poblano chile, roasted sweet potato, and black beans, served on a corn tortilla with melted Oaxacan cheese, a drizzle of spicy chipotle salsa and pico de gallo. The taco is vegetarian and wheat-free, and is highly addicting—I could have easily filled up on these for lunch and been happy.
Other new menu items include:
A healthy, light burrito stuffed with salad instead of rice and beans. Theirs is made with a mix of organic baby lettuce, Napa cabbage, and radicchio tossed with avocado Caesar dressing, Cotixa cheese, shredded carrots, radish slices, pico de gallo, creamy spicy salsa and sliced avocado, as well as your choice of meat or vegetarian options, all rolled up in a giant chipotle-flour tortilla.
Ultimate Burrito ‘Mar y Tierra’
Ultimate is right–this one can serve up to 4 guests! A large grilled chipotle-flour tortilla, with melted Jack & Oaxacan cheeses and black beans all topped with grilled filet medallions, agave shrimp, crisp bacon, sliced buttery avocado, diced tomatoes, onions, and a spicy salsa. Served open-faced with a steak knife. .
Shrimp Salad ‘Esquites’
Juicy shrimp sautéed with extra virgin olive oil on baby wild arugula, tossed with warm grilled corn kernels (‘esquites’), fresh-squeezed lemon juice and pico de gallo, pickled jalapeno strips, cotixa cheese, and ground guajillo chiles.
Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
Shrimp coated with house-made beer batter, deep-fried until crisp, served on a corn tortilla with avocado-cilantro sauce, lime crema, pico de gallo, and cabbage.
Chipotle Chicken ‘Desmadres’
The translation of ‘Desmadres’ is “a big mess,” and this is indeed one delicious mess: thinly-pounded boneless chicken breast grilled with chipotles and fresh garlic, olive oil and chopped cilantro, topped with wild baby arugula leaves and a big spoonful of chunky avocado-tomato salad.
Mexx Chopp Big Salad
A mix of organic baby lettuce,Napa cabbage, and radicchio tossed with avocado Caesar dressing, pico de gallo, cotixa cheese, black beans, diced nopales, grilled corn and sauteed almonds, topped with fried tortilla strips and diced avocado. Top your salad with grilled lemon-mezcal chicken, carne asada, beer-battered or chipotle shrimp, or vegetarian/vegan options.
Guava Crème Brulee
Guava? Go figure—but it works beautifully! A rich, luscious crème brulee spiked with tart pink guava and fresh raspberries, a burnt-sugar crust and powdered sugar.
And for tequila drinkers, SOL already has more than 70 artisan, premium and ultra premium tequilas and mezcals at the bar, but they’ve just introduced their very own SOL Single Barrel Reposado Tequila, custom blended at Casa Noble’s Tequila distillery by Partners Rich Howland and Matt Baumayr. The tequila is in limited supply and available only at SOL.
I had a sample shot of the SOL tequila, and it was remarkably smooth. So, I had to try it in a margarita. Absolutely delicious.
I guess you could say that I’m SOLd on SOL’s new menu, although the regular lunch and dinner menus feature even more Baja classics like Ensenada Beer-Battered Fish Tacos, Carne Asada Street Tacos (made with premium beef) and Cocktel de Mariscos. These are served alongside innovative creations that offer a twist on Mexican favorites, including the Taco Vampiro (still one of my favorite Mexican dishes in OC).
Another wonderful thing about SOL–much of SOL’s menu can be made vegetarian and vegan-friendly and many items are 100% wheat-free. Chef Deb’s “stealth health” approach is geared towards fresh, delicious food that happens to be low-fat and healthful.
For those unfamiliar with SOL, the menu features bold, modern interpretations of traditional Coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients. Designed to echo the expansive sea, sky, and desert of the Baja peninsula, the restaurant offers old world charm juxtaposed with urban comfort, including an open exhibition kitchen with counter seating.
To complement the dining experience, SOL’s bar creates spectacular hand-crafted-to order fresh fruit margaritas and cocktails inspired by the authentic, seasonal flavors of the menu. The restaurant offers over 70 artisan, premium and ultra premium tequilas and mezcals.
For more info, visit www.SOLCocina.com.
Thanks for reading!