Solita – A fresh taste of Baja in Huntington Beach
Solita opens it’s doors on December 26th at the Bella Terra Shopping center
I often ponder why businesses continue to open new Mexican restaurants in a sea of suburban Taquirias, Oaxaca influenced cantinas, and gringo friendly cheese-bomb establishments. Occasionally a new and unique Mexican restaurant will open that truly differentiates itself and draw in the local community. For me, I had this moment when I attended a preview of Solita at the Bella Terra center, in Huntington Beach. I was impressed by the food, cocktails and ambiance. Perhaps the X-Factor for me is that Solita’s food reminded me of my college trips to Baja.
I have many memories of going down to Baja when I attended San Diego State University and enjoyed all types of fresh seafood, tacos and street food. The restaurants were set up in shacks. The restaurant had humble looks, but proud flavors in their food. Solita captures some of these memories with their Baja influenced menu. The restaurant management team spent some time in Mexico discovering the best Baja cuisine. They came back and attempted to recreate the magic of Baja.
Just as in the Baja Mexico, Solita uses a wood burning style grill and smoker that imparts a rustic smoke flavor to their dishes. According to executive Chef Deb Schneider, who spent considerable time in Mexico as a chef , “What makes Solita so unique is that we incorporated a wood grill like so many we have enjoyed in Mexico, and created a menu around it that offers fresh, simple preparations made with seasonal ingredients.”
Solita is more casual sister restaurant to the more posh Sol Mexican Cocina in Newport Beach. Solita reminds me of your beach bum brother who cleans up nicely for work, casual at the core, but all business. This casual neighborhood Mexican restaurant is approachable both from price point and style of food. There is something for every taste at Solita.
What we tasted
Guacamole Solita – Guacamole fresh made guacamole served in a fried tortilla bowl, topped with diced mango, tomato, onion, serrano chile, & cilantro. You have to try their guacamole at least once.
Tequila shrimp & avocado sundae – lightly cooked shrimp with blanco tequila, salsa fresca, lime juice & chipotles layered with a creamy avocado sauce.. This dish was cool and creamy with acidic flavors from the tomatoes.
Grilled corn elote – whole ear of sweet corn roasted & grilled with butter, chipotle salsa, California chiles, cotixa & green onion. This dish stole the show from the rest of the menu items. The sweet corn, butter and cotixa cheese was accentuated by the subtle sizzle of the chipotle sauce. This is a must order item for anyone visiting Solita for the first time.
Yellowtail ceviche tropicale – diced fresh Gulf of California yellowtail tossed with fresh-squeezed lime juice, serrano chiles, cucumber, bits of tropical fruit & salsa fresca, avocado. If you looking for something cool and refreshing, I would order the yellowtail ceviche. I liked the balance of acidity to fish protein, thus allowing the yellow tail’s natural flavor to shine through.
Solita has an impressive selection of tacos from fish to chile tofu, something for everyone. They are available in platters of three tacos plus two sides or their “Just Tacos”, which provides four tacos, and no sides. To me rice and beans are just filler, I recommend the “Just Tacos” platter so that you can save your stomach space for more tacos. Below are some examples of tacos Solita makes from scratch:
- Crispy fried fish taco – house made batter & secret sauce, lime – The fish has a crispy crust and soft juicy meat center that is accentuated with their mayo based sauce. This was my favorite taco.
- Los cadillacs -A little surf and turf taco, baja style with wood-grilled beef asada, topped with chipotle shrimp
- Wood-grilled carne asada – If you are a fan of carne asasda tacos, these will not disappoint. Theiu carne asada is seasoned with a spice rub and cooked over the wood-grill. This taco had complex flavors and left me wanting another.
- Wood-grilled ancho chile chicken – Wood grill rotisserie dark meat chicken is served with garlic & ancho chiles.
- Mushrooms with garlic & epazote – I personally did not try the mushroom taco, but it is made with sautéed mixed exotic mushrooms red chile beef ‘borracho’ – oak-smoked shredded beef, beer-spiked salsa.
- Pork carnitas – Solita’s interpretation is of this slow-roasted pork is impressive and delicious in a taco with fresh guacamole.
Quesadillas- Two large tortillas are crisped using butter and stuffed with Mexican cheese, your choice of meat, salsa fresce and guacamole.
Lazy enchiladas– 3 corn tortillas folded over Mexican cheeses & meat, topped with green or red enchilada sauce, sour cream, cotixa cheese, lettuce & salsa fresca. There is no need to roll your enchiladas in my opinion, as long as they taste delicious.
Skirt steak asada with toreados A really nice cut of angus steak is wood-grilled served with with avocado, grilled jalapeno toreados & scallions, chimichurri sauce. The wood grilling makes gives this steak it’s complex flavors. The steak was cooked perfectly, juicy and a hot pink center.
Wood-grilled wild fish – Seasonal and local fish is grilled with lime butter. This is a very simple preparation, but it allows the natural flavors of the fish to shine through. This is the way I remember eating fresh fish in Mexico.
Perro caliente ‘changa’ – (grilled mexican hot dog) rolled in a flour tortilla with bacon, cream cheese, pickled jalapeno & onion, deep-fried & topped with sour cream, lettuce, green onions & salsa fresco. This dish is the epitome of Ensenada style mobile cuisine. Although this dish sounds funky it is extremely delicious and a must try. The picture you see below is a slice of the Perro Caliente.
Cocktails and Margaritas
Just as impressive as the food, their margaritas and other cocktails were equally delicious. Made with natural ingredients and house crafted mixers, these cocktails allow the natural flavors to shine through. The two cocktails I tried:
Solita House Margarita made with 100% blue agave agavles blanco, housemade sweet and sour, a touch of orange juice and Triple Sec. This is a clean tasting margarita that can be enjoyed without getting the sick feeling from artificial ingredients. If you progress no further than their house margarita, you will be in good shape.
The other cocktail I tried and my absolute favorite is the Horchata Cocktail. This cocktail is made with Solita’s housemade horchata, agavales blanco tequila, 1921 crema and a dash of cinnamon that tied the cocktail together. This cocktail can be trouble in inexperienced hands, so order more than one.
My Final Thoughts about Solita
Tom’s Foodie Blog highly recommends Solita because of the high-quality food and friendly service. As a disclosure I visited during a preview. Although judging by the attention to detail that they have placed on their sister restaurant Sol Cocina, I expect Solita will keep a consistent level of quality way past opening day (December 26th). Everyone in my group was very excited about the food and commented how much they liked the restaurant. For me there was something honest and simple about Solita’s food that made it so easy to enjoy.
7631 Edinger Avenue Suite 1508 Huntington Beach, CA 92647 (attached to the Bella Terra Appartments) <–lucky residents
- sunday – thursday 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
- friday & saturday 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
- bar closes at midnight daily