A casual Baja-style spot centered around open-hearth cooking and margaritas by the pint will expand outside its native California for the first time this summer with the launch of a new Chicago outpost.
Solita Tacos & Margaritas should to open in August at 431 N. Wells Street, inside the former home of infamous Las Vegas-based party bar chain Pink Taco, which closed in July after four years in River North. In lieu of its predecessor’s clubby vibe and Pepto-pink color scheme, Solita’s design leans into agave with the smells of a festive tequila distillery. The bar is a popular happy hour destination in California.
The space will most resemble the chain’s new outpost in Long Beach, says Randy Sharpe, CEO of parent company Xperience Restaurant Group, with plenty of natural wood furnishings, a long steel-topped bar, and space for live music performances. The 9,570 square foot space will seat 162 and an additional 68 on an outdoor patio.
Ownership will outfit the kitchen with a wood-fired grill and smoker for a variety of meats for tacos such as the best-selling Vampiro (cheese, serranos, chipotle sauce, carne asada or chicken) and smoked Pork Belly Dorado (amarillo hot sauce, onions), as well as hefty entrees like oak-smoked pork ribs (chipotle rub, grilled chiles toreados) sold by the pound. It’ll also offer 20 salsas, all made on site, eight varieties of margaritas, and numerous other sweet, savory, and spicy tequila-based cocktails. Sharpe is especially proud of the restaurant’s margaritas, promising big drinks that don’t rely on food science like sour mix. “The puree for our watermelon margarita is that you take a watermelon and blend it,” he says. “It’s about the cleanest margarita you can have.”
Founded in 2015 in Huntington Beach, California, Solita began as a sister spot to fellow West Coast restaurant Sol Mexican Cantina. Xperience Restaurant Group (XRG), also behind Mexican-style California restaurants such as Las Brisas and Acapulco, acquired both Sol and Solita in 2019, says Sharpe, bringing XRG’s total number of restaurant brands to nine. In addition to the forthcoming Chicago location, leadership also plans to open new Solita outposts this summer in Anaheim and Orlando, Florida.
Solita Tacos & Margaritas Chicago, 431 N. Wells Street, Scheduled to open in August 2022.