Eat Legendary Fish Tacos at Solbar
Whenever I travel, a full restaurant is a trusted choice as a place to eat, and Solbar was packed for lunch. Savory scents lured me inside and triggered a rumble in my stomach. With so many options on the menu, I took my seat to scope out the dining room for a view of what others were eating. The answer: fish tacos.
Spilling out of the kitchen, one after another after another, at least one dish per table was served as a shared plate or as a main meal. Fish tacos are not hard to come by in an area well known for its numerous taco trucks, but here, Executive Chef Gustavo Rios serves a personalized version of this popular street food, which has become legendary.
When Rios joined Solbar’s culinary team about a decade ago, he brought a taste of his Ensenada (Mexico) roots to the menu. He introduced fish tacos, a childhood favorite, but with a fresh, healthy interpretation that begins with the batter.
“When I was a kid, the dish was so greasy you couldn’t even taste the fish,” he said. “It was a beer-based batter and the fish was heaped with raw cabbage on a corn tortilla with a side of radish.”
At Solbar, Rios switched things up using a technique he’d discovered; a breading made of cornmeal and flour into which is dredged petrole sole, a fish found 500 feet below sea level along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja. The Solbar taco is assembled on a locally-sourced tortilla and topped with pickled green and red cabbage that’s been doused with a touch of sugar, oil and vinegar, and then tossed with onions and spices. The whole thing is garnished with a dollop of chipotle aioli and a few sprigs of cilantro. Each fish taco trio is served with lime slices and a side of peppers that come with a word of caution: hot.
The tacos taste fresh-made and crispy, not greasy, and the tangle of pickled cabbage offers a welcome dose of gut-healthy probiotics. The use of in-season, local ingredients is the secret to this taco’s success.
All I know is – pass the fish tacos.