Many, many years ago – an embarrassingly long time ago, I was dating a guy who drove me down the California coast for some beach time. We stopped at a shack (like a strong wind would have flattened it, shack) for some fresh shrimp. We sat at the picnic tables, with the ocean right there and sand blowing into our food. It was the best shrimp I had ever had (even with the sand – or maybe because of it). I hadn’t experienced shrimp like that since, until the night I had head-on shrimp at Sol Mexican Cocina. Minus the sand, or fear of the structure collapsing around me, there was that flavor of the sea, sun and heat. But this time, it was served in Cherry Creek North at Sol’s built-to-order new restaurant, its first in Colorado.
It’s no wonder that Sol’s shrimp should let me harken back to my beach shack meal because the food is inspired by the owners’ coastal surfing trips down the Baja peninsula. This is not gloppy Mexican food. The ingredients are clean and simple, the dishes unfussy and the flavors fresh and bright.
For the preview night, Sol’s staff was smart enough to present a table of entrees representative of meals we would be trying in sample size. Think of it as a visual menu!
Standouts to us were the Peel & Eat Shrimp “Cucarachas.” Don’t let the name freak you out – the head-on shrimp were prepared simply with garlic, lemons, chilis and cheese. The Baja Corn Chowder with Crab was also delicious, full of flavor without overpowering the delicate seafood. We went back for seconds for the Carne Asade and Carnitas Street Tacos. And the guacamole with add-ins (turns out watermelon goes beautifully in guacamole) was fun for this avocado-lover.
Sol really shines at the bar. The Mango Con Chile Frozen Margarita was my favorite, smooth and tropical with pureed mango, garnished with a dried mango chile slice. The Cucumber Jalapeno was the favorite of our bartender because it still feels cool but with a kick. The Blackberry Ginger Margarita was as pretty as a blush of hibiscus.
Sol’s decor is really interesting and inviting. It’s at once heavy but sleek and light. We loved the artwork that gets shown off thanks to the subtle color motif. Two private dining rooms – one woodsy and the other bright and light will make the place popular for corporate or special occasion needs.
It’s rare that we enjoy everything we try at a restaurant (and we tried a lot of different things) but Sol is one of those exceptions. This place is going to be hugely popular! When you find yourself planning your next trip to a restaurant before you’ve finished your first visit, you know you’ve found a winner. Shine on, Sol, we see bright things in your future.
And in case you’re wondering what happened with that shrimp shack young man, I married him. You don’t let someone go who takes you to the shore just to buy you the (second) best shrimp meal of your life.
Sol Mexican Cocina is located at 200 Columbine, #110 in Cherry Creek North.