sol cocina

pomegranate guacamole

One of the things I love most about Southern California is how I’m able to indulge in my fetish for Mexican food. Proximity to the border combined with an abundant Latino population make this part of the country one of the best areas outside of Mexico to go in search of regional flavors. More surprising is when you happen to stumble upon a place that’s creatively marrying authentic ingredients with the ethos of California cuisine. Chef Deborah Schneider’s Sol Cocina is such a place. Simple, quick and fresh are the bywords of Baja-style cooking and Sol, with an open kitchen and counter seating not unlike a Baja taco bar, embraces the peculiarities of that peninsula with a winning menu heavily dependent on seasonal ingredients. Like pomegranate seeds, which pepper a guacamole already studded with walnuts and crumbled queso fresco. And white corn, blended with spicy roasted poblanos into a velvety puree with crema and pepitas. (Applause, too, for the brilliant idea of offering a substantial ‘taste’ at the bargain price of $2.50)  There’s only one word that can accurately encapsulate the sweet corn on the cob, grilled with butter, lime, chiles and drizzled with chipotle and cotixa cheese and that’s “sick,” as in I would be happy to eat this in such reckless quantities that I ultimately make myself sick. Tacos have their own surprises: the Vampiro is a double tortilla stuffed with melted cheese and serrano chile, topped with locally sourced carne asada, pico de gallo and cotixa; wild-caught fish is pan-roasted with lemon and garlic in the Gobernador, a refreshing change of pace from your bog standard Ensenda-style deep fry. I should have planned better in preparation for this meal; there are too many temptations on the menu:  shortribs braised with guajillos, green pozole, pork pibil roasted in banana leaves, and a mammoth grilled burrito that looks like a panini on steroids as it passes me by en route to some lucky table. Then again, such seduction is all part of the fun of eating here in SoCal: otro hermoso día, otra comida magnífica.

white corn & pobano soup

grilled sweet corn

taco vampiro & fish taco

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