Sol Cocina opened splashily in Playa Vista with oceans of margaritas and a make-your-own guacamole bar stocked with things you may not have thought of adding to avocado, such as raspberries, blackberries and pineapple, chile-dusted dried mango, nopales and chipotle shrimp.
Already open for 10 days, the restaurant made it official with a party. It was great fun to watch as enthusiastic servers went back and forth with trays of margaritas, tequila shots, oyster shooters and more.
A taco bar turned out tacos of carne asada on a base of two small corn tortillas. What set them apart was a layer of cheese and chiles between the tortillas. You won't find that at your neighborhood taquería.
Next to these were fish tacos gobernador, with a lime-citrus aioli, melted cheeses and pico de gallo.
Jumbo peel and eat shrimp cucarachas are a Sol Cocina signature. They're roasted with garlic, lemon, chile and cotija cheese. On party night, you could eat as many as you wanted.
The food is smart and contemporary, thanks to executive chef Deborah Schneider, who is a partner in the restaurant group.
I met Chef Deb on a culinary tour in Mexico when she was researching "The Mexican Slow Cooker," one of six cookbooks she has authored. She's a hard worker, with great taste and depth in her approach to Mexican food.
That's apparent is this new Sol Cocina, which is the chain's third location. The restaurant occupies a corner in a brand new community of apartment blocks, home to smart tech types. Here, they'll find a pleasant escape from their cool, spartan environment.
The apartment buildings are so blank and similar, I wonder how they'll find where they live after an evening of Sol Cocina's margaritas, which are so spectacular, you can't help but try several.
Prefer sweet and fruity? Then go for Bubbles and Berries, composed of muddled strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, lime juice and agave with tequila, Cointreau and a splash of sparkling white wine.
Inside, it's cozy and dark, with a glassed in kitchen that exhibits stacks of wood for grillng steak, lobster tails, corn and the like. At first, the restaurant was open only for dinner, but now you can have lunch there too.
Sol Cocina Playa Vista, 12775 W Millennium Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90094. Tel: (424) 289-0066.