Solita Tacos & Margaritas, a West Coast restaurant mini-chain featuring Baja-style Mexican fare and open-hearth cooking, debuted on Friday in Chicago and unveiled its first restaurant outside its home state of California. It replaces over-the-top party bar Pink Taco at 431 N. Wells Street.
Positioned in tourist-heavy River North, Solita utilizes a wood-fired grill for entries such as a smoked pork belly dorado taco with amarillo hot sauce, and the Cadillac taco (stuffed with grilled carne asada, chipotle-garlic shrimp, melted cheese, and avocado). Larger options include charro-smoked chipotle-rubbed pork ribs served by the pound and an oak-roasted chicken.
The original Huntington Beach, California location has a reputable happy hour and Solita’s owner hope to mirror that in Chicago. The bar features eight margaritas and more than a dozen cocktails like a watermelon habanero martini and “frozen beer” (cold beer poured over a frozen margarita).
“It’s an approachable, contemporary, and casual environment, and the craft cocktail component brings it all together,” Randy Sharpe, CEO of ownership group Xperience Restaurant Group, told Eater in July. “They’re simple processes but the ingredients are high quality and helps us round out the concept.”
Though Z Capital Partners is invested in both chains, Solita differs significantly in appearance from its infamous predecessor: Pink Taco’s hanging sculpture of a tattooed luchador and plush magenta banquettes have been replaced by classic exposed Chicago brick, dark natural wood and leather furniture, and spacious U-shaped booths that seem well-suited for large groups. At more than 9,500 square feet, the restaurant seats more than 100 indoors and nearly 650 more on an outdoor patio.
Explore Chicago’s new California import in the photographs below.
Solita Tacos & Margaritas Chicago, 431 N. Wells Street, Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.