Sol Cocina New Summer Menu
A Bounty of Fresh Seafood Brings This Summer Menu “Center Stage” At SOL Cocina
At SOL Cocina, Executive Chef Debra Schneider has just unveiled her amazing new “seafood-centric” menu for summer. Think New England, with huge, double-tiered shaved ice platters overflowing with seafood. These are filled to the brim with fresh seafood, oysters, clams, mussels, octopus, crab and shrimp. And as great as the fish tastes, the Baja-inspired flavor profiles of the salsas and sauces complement each selection so perfectly. Everything from robust cilantro, to jalapeño chili peppers, garlic, onions and lemon. Delicate sauces & bright tomato-red fresh salsas dot the landscape of this heavenly presentation.
The setting doesn’t hurt either. SOL Cocina Mexican Restaurant is perched above a lovely marina inlet, here in the Newport Harbor. Guests saunter in by car, bike, skateboard, and even boat, since there are docks right outside the patio to dock and glide on in. There is a main dining room with an open-kitchen, and on the other side–a happening bar with high-top tables and bar stools. An outside patio overlooks the water, and a host of large picture windows. There is also a step-down private dining room to accommodate approximately 20 guests for a more intimate dining affair.
Chef Debra’s inspiration for SOL (now also in Scottsdale) was inspired by the best of what she experienced on her sojourns to coastal Baja California. Creating a casual, friendly setting, she wanted the restaurant to reflect all of that, with an upscale Mexican dining experience front and center. The menu features authentic flavors with an array of fresh seafood and seasonal produce. Debra is also a noted book author. I have two of her books in my library and really enjoy them very much! Especially the cookbook focused on slow cooking.
SOL’s New Summer Menu- I had the pleasure of joining Chef Debra and her team recently for a tasting of the new menu. It was an evening of exploration and delicious cuisines. There were combinations I might not have put together on my own, but with her guidance, they all worked so perfectly. It was sublime. Our evening began, of course, with mini Micheladas. These are similar to a Bloody Mary, however they are made with beer. They were very refreshing, and we then moved on to the Farmer’s Market hand shaken Margaritas. Colin Pflugradt is the artful and passionate Beverage Director, and he always has something delicious up his sleeve. At SOL, he also produces a Fish Bowl for larger groups of guests. This is served into mugs, or huge straws are thrown in–depending on how well the guests know one another.
The Tostadas are served here in small round disks with a light dusting of salt and red pepper. They are always served with three delicious dipping sauces ranging from mild to “oh my goodness” hot. As the parade of seafood made its way to the dining room, we enjoyed a head-spinning selection of items. Here are descriptions of the delicious seafood items on the new menu: Ceviche SOL (sashimi-grade raw fish with lime juice, serrano chilies, pico-de-gallo and sliced avocado), Chilled Oysters (on the half shell—-of all types with paired sauces), Mad Dogs (freshly shucked oysters, fresh lime juice, dash of chipotle cocktail sauce), Crudo Plate (Tiraditos of raw fish, with cilantro and serrano chilies, soy, lime and chipotle salsa), Oyster Bombs (crusted and fired), SOL on Ice (Oysters on the half shell, chilled gulf shrimp, Maine lobster tail, Alaskan crab cluster, Baja Black Mussels, escabeche, hot and raw ceviche), Whole Fried Fish (fried chicharron, salsas, onions, cilantro and avocado), Baby Octopus (grilled with olive oil, garlic, lemon and smoked chile), Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad, and my personal favorite, the Baja Blue Crab Stack (with a mango salsa, cucumber, salted lemon cream, cilantro oil and avocado). For dessert we enjoyed a Mini La Guera (a Blondie with white chocolate and pecans, served warm with ice cream & cajeta envinada–a caramel sauce with a touch of reposado tequila– and topped with fruit and pecans).
Guests dining in the restaurant will be greeted with a “Fresh Today” menu featuring a bevy of choices, which change based on the freshest seafood available that day. Table groups of 4-6 guests can enjoy, as we did, SOL On Ice for $99. This includes: 10 Oysters on the half shell, 8 gulf shrimp, 4 oz. Maine lobster tail, Alaskan crab cluster, 12 Baja black mussels escabeche, and Ceviche. All this is served with SOL’s seafood salsas, lemons & limes, chili garlic toasts and tostadas. A smaller SOL On Ice is also available for smaller groups (for 1-3 guests for $49). Guests can also build their own chilled selection. And each day the oysters, clams and mussels of the day are noted. For example, guests can order 3 Oysters on the half shell for $8.50, a selection of 12 for $37, or how about just a shot for $3.50?
In addition to all of this amazing seafood, the regular menu is also engaged, and guests can enjoy the famous Guacamole, a popular appetizer of Warm Goat Cheese, the Carne Asada Torta, Grilled Garlic Eggplant Torta, a selection of Street Tacos, Grilled Kobe Skirt Steak, or Shrimp Chile Rellenos, and on the list continues.
Summer Fun & Music at SOL– SOL successfully reflects a casual, coastal, ambiance. From their signature cocktails made with the freshest of juices and herbs, to live music and menus, the place is seriously hopping. Personally, I enjoy their handmade signature margaritas, especially their constantly changing special “Farmer’s Market” selection. However tequila aficionados can select from more than 70 artisan premium and ultra-premium tequilas and mezcals. That is one impressive list to peruse.
They have a lot going on here. Here is a brief run-down on the events and summer time happenings at SOL Cocina. It is the perfect spot to meet friends and just enjoy the restful waterside views.
Taco Tuesdays– This is super-popular and occurs each week. It begins at 4:00pm and the special offerings run thru 10:00pm when the kitchen closes. The menu includes a host of specialty margaritas, wine, beer and a few dining specials as well. Music plays from 6:30pm to 10:30pm and the bar closes at 11:00pm. (If you don’t have a seat by 6:00pm you might be out of luck. Just a word of caution.)
Saturday and Sunday Brunch– On the weekends SOL opens its doors at 10:00am. That is Bloody Mary time in my book, and they serve a great one. Both brunch and lunch are served until 3:00pm in the afternoon. Additionally, on Sundays there is a solo musical artist playing from 12:00 noon to 3:00pm.
Saturday Evenings– Live Music- Who doesn’t enjoy some live sounds? On Saturday evening there is a solo artist playing from 8:00pm to 11:00pm. The talent varies most weeks for all performances.
For boaters, guests can dock their boats using public slips #65, 66 &74, located just to the right of the restaurant.
251 Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach
At The Corner of Bayside Drive with Valet Parking
(949) 675-9800 ~ www.solcocina.com
Hours: Monday thru Thursdays 11:30am to 11:00pm, Friday until midnight, Saturday 10:00am to midnight, and Sunday 10:00am to 11:00pm.