CHIReview

photo credit: Sandy Noto

Sol De Mexico review image
7.7

Sol De Mexico

Knowing things that other people don’t can be useful. Just ask a spy, or that guy from Jeopardy! who probably owns an island by now. That’s why it feels so good to know about a great neighborhood restaurant. You can sit back and enjoy a low-key dinner, secure in the knowledge that someone else is sitting in a crowded downtown spot where they had to reserve a table months in advance. And Sol De Mexico is a neighborhood restaurant you want in your mental arsenal.

This casual sit-down Mexican spot in Craigin-Belmont looks kind of like an art gallery, with sculptures, paintings, and masks hanging all over. You’ll find white tablecloths on all the tables and tissue paper accents on the plates, but the overall atmosphere is low-key, and it works for a casual weeknight dinner or laidback date.

Sandy Noto

Sol De Mexico review image

The menu changes regularly (four times a year, to be exact), and includes dishes you probably don’t see all the time. Like papadzules - tasty corn tortillas filled with hard-boiled eggs, covered in pumpkin seed mole and a chili-habanero sauce. Or a perfectly cooked rabbit with a smoky guajillo salsa. That said, there are also staples you can always count on, like slightly sweet corn tamales in a spicy chicaca cream sauce (a must-order), and a tender rack of lamb in a delicious black mole. Speaking of mole, all the sauces here are fantastic, and, like Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me, improve just about everything.

While the sauces are reliably delicious, not everything is a hit. For example, you’ll frequently come across a very dry piece meat or fish. Like bland diced chicken breast in the enchiladas, or overcooked carne asada and salmon that both really need the moisture from their sauces. We’ve also had the unnerving experience of finding chicken bones in the shredded-chicken-filled masa boats. But as long as you focus on what this place does really well (i.e. moles and anything with lamb or rabbit), you’ll have a good meal.

Thanks to the internet, you probably haven’t needed to use a secret decoder ring in a long time. After all, these days information is easy to come by, so unless you’re trying to figure out the Instagram algorithm, it’s generally pretty simple to find out what you want to know. Still, not everyone’s aware of all the best neighborhood restaurants, and if you’re not, you’re missing out. So the the next time you want a laidback dinner with tasty and interesting Mexican food, keep Sol De Mexico in mind.

Food Rundown

Sopestitos Surtidos Xilonen

If you want an appetizer with a range of flavors, this is a great choice. It’s four masa boats, each with a different filling - chicken in red mole, plantains with sour cream, black beans with chorizo, and one with just guacamole. Our favorites are the ones with plantains and chicken. And if you ask, they’ll customize and give you whatever fillings you want.

Sandy Noto

Sol De Mexico review image

Uchepos Tarascos Gratinados

Honestly, these tamales are almost sweet enough to be like a dessert, but we don’t care. Because they’re lightly covered in cheese and a spicy chilaca cream sauce that balances everything out. They’re moist and absolutely delicious. Order this.

Sol De Mexico review image

Tlacoyos De Frijol Negro

These are bean-filled masa pockets. The dough is chewy like a pizza roll, and the black bean filling is pretty bland. The chipotle salsa on top is great, but it doesn’t make this dish worth ordering.

Pernil Al Pibil

This dish is a DIY taco situation. It’s anchiote marinated pork shoulder, served with black beans and pickled red onions. And most importantly, some thick housemade corn tortillas. Make sure you order extras of those.

Sandy Noto

Sol De Mexico review image

Borrego En Mole Negro

The lamb is perfectly cooked, and comes with rice and a rich, dark mole. This is a great plate of food.

Enchiladas De Mole Rojo

These enchiladas are a great example of how the sauces carry some of the dishes. The red mole is complex, spicy, and delicious. It prevents the dry grilled chicken breast from ruining everything.

Sandy Noto

Sol De Mexico review image

Salmon En Mole Verde

The salmon will probably be overcooked, but the pumpkin seed mole is great, and manages to add enough moisture to save it.

Carne Asada A La Parrilla

No matter how you ask for it, the ribeye is going to be medium if you’re lucky or well-done if you’ve drawn the short straw. It has great flavor, and the plantains and molcajete salsa that come with it are delicious. But if you’re looking for a tender steak, this isn’t it.

Conejo En Chile Ajo

There’s almost always some version of rabbit on the menu, and it’s always good. This preparation has a garlicky guajillos salsa and black beans.

Chocolate Tamale

This chocolate cake comes wrapped in a corn husk like a present, and when you unwrap it the smell of chocolate punches you in the face. It’s moist, not-too-sweet, and very good.

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