Solita Tacos & Margaritas, the popular Baja-style restaurant featuring items inspired by the cooking of Northern Mexico, with a Santa Maria-style grill and smoker, opens Friday at 11 a.m. at 111 W. Ocean Blvd., the spot of the long-vacant Rock Bottom Brewery in Downtown Long Beach.

Rock Bottom was the first major restaurant to shutter in the city because of the coronavirus, and it was a clear and alarming signal that the pandemic was going to have a significant impact on the physical and financial health of the city.

Solita is a major sign that the virus has, at least, settled down enough for things to be returning to whatever the new normal will bring to Long Beach, taking its place on the most visible intersection in town on the northwest corner of Ocean and Pine Avenue, the historic crossroads of the city.

“We couldn’t be more lucky to be able to pick up that corner,” Randy Sharpe, CEO and president of Xperience Restaurant Group, which owns several Mexican restaurants including two Solita locations in Huntington Beach and Valencia as well as the El Torito and Acapulco chains, Laguna Beach’s Las Brisas and a half-dozen others.

The interior of Solita’s bar and dining area. Photo courtesy Xperience Restaurant Group.

Sharpe said he hopes to not only attract local business people, but also the many nearby residents along Ocean and in Downtown, as well as plugging into the returning convention business.

“We’re very accessible here, it’s just a place to have a good time and you can get a meal and a couple of drinks for $25,” he said.

Some highlights from the menu include:

  • Pork Belly Dorado Taco: pork belly smoked in-house for six hours, served with amarillo hot sauce, onions, cilantro and slaw.
  • Vampiro Taco: double tortilla with carne asada or grilled chicken, with cheese, serrano peppers, green onions, guacamole, chipotle sauce, cotija cheese and salsa fresca.
  • Cadillac: wood-grilled carne asada, melted cheese, chipotle-garlic shrimp, avocado and salsa fresca.
  • Grilled Corn Elote: roasted and wood-grilled sweet corn carved tableside with butter, chipotle sauce, ground California chile, cotija cheese and green onions.
  • Steak Carne Asada, wood-grilled Angus steak, avocado, jalapeno toreados, scallions and chimichurri; served with two sides.

For Pride weekend Saturday and Sunday, Solita will be offering street tacos, three for $12, and guacamole and tortilla chips, $6, for take-out.

Additionally, the restaurant/bar will be offering live entertainment Thursday through Saturday evenings as well as several happy hour specials.

Solita hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Sunday; and they’ll be serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 9 a.m.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.