When Solita opened its doors to Huntington Beach the day after Christmas 2013, it served Huntington Beach locals a taste of elevated Baja-style Mexican fare—in a carefully and artfully designed ambiance. Initially, the minds behind SOL's younger, strapped sister restaurant imagined a take on the ever-popular neighborhood street taco cart. If you've dined at Solita, you know they crumpled those early design plans like the wrapper of a just-devoured burrito. The launch of its takeout program, however, pulls from those street roots, from the taco carts that influence Executive Chef Deborah Schneider's creative, authentic, casual menu.
A small worm wood window carved into Solita's facade just left of the towering worm wood restaurant door facilitates to-go orders, providing a convenient street-side takeout experience. Those days of awkwardly waiting for your takeout treats while trying not to stare at diners, of reluctantly tolerating the chaotic clamor of a loud eatery for the longest 10 minutes of your life, of silently admitting to the restaurant staff, "Yes, I'm eating alone. Again. With my cat," are over, thanks to Solita.
On a recent Sunday, we headed to Bella Terra to grab some of our favorite Solita bites to go. It looks as though we've made our new best frenemy.
Here are our 10 takeaways from Solita's new takeaway program.
1 // Accuracy
Not only did the Solita team nail our order (Queso Al Forno; Tequila Shrimp & Avocado Sundae; Skinny Burrito with fish, red sauce and Solita Slaw; Lazy Enchiladas with shrimp and pinto beans; housemade horchata), they also nailed its timing. The friendly female voice on the phone quoted us 15 minutes, and when we arrived 15 minutes later, our dinner was ready to come home with us.
2 // Street-Side Service
As noted above, Solita knows that you're ordering takeout for a reason: You don't want and you don't have time to step inside a restaurant. Maybe you're wary of the noise and/or human interaction. Or maybe you're wearing sweatpants (we won't judge you). To grab Solita to go, you simply stroll across the sidewalk and up to the window, peek in, exchange a few words and dollars, reach through for your goodies, and you're off on your merry way. It's a unique play on a street vendor, only you're on a sidewalk at HB's most upscale and bustling strip mall.
3 // Free Reusable Bag
Solita takeout orders are served in black reusable tote bags, adorned with the signature blue Solita logo. Now everyone will know exactly where and what you're eating. It's not only a brilliant marketing tool, it's also eco-friendly and mindful of the city's plastic bag ban.
4 // Reusable Compartment Containers
We smiled as we unpacked our bag and instantly felt like we were sitting down to a peaceful picnic in the park. Our eats were attentively packed into recyclable plastic—not styrofoam—compartment containers, keeping the salsa fresca, slaw and burrito separated until mealtime. Should your heart desire, you can reuse the containers for homemade meals. If there's one thing that makes us twitch, it's when our leftovers (a rarity) are delivered to the table in a white, crunchy foam container. We die a little inside. Thank you, Solita, for kindly not killing us or the environment.
5 // So Saucy
One of our favorite treats at Solita is the trio of fresh, zesty, housemade salsas, which are swiftly carried to your table along with tortilla chips, durros, onions and radishes when dining in. The tomatillo, chile d'arbol and evil green are all included with takeout orders, as are their crunchy sidekicks. Be sure to prioritize noshing on the durros, as they seemingly lose their crunch quite quickly when taken home.
6 // Flavor Flav
Let us start off by noting that takeout food will never reach the same level of quality as plated food eaten just minutes after leaving the kitchen. Solita, however, has managed to hit the flavor levels in everything we ordered, even the Queso Al Forno, which is designed to be cooked and served in an iron cazuela. Though the "antojito" congeals rapidly, what could we expect when it's instead transferred into plastic takeout container? It was heaven in our mouths, and we'll bring it home again. We're lucky enough that they dared to add it to the takeout menu. The Tequila Shrimp & Avocado Sundae, while not as attractive as when layered and served in a sundae glass, hit the spot and still looked lovely in a clear plastic container. Our only note of constructive criticism is that our entrees were a bit dry.
7 // Warm Tortillas
Tortillas give the best hugs—to accompanying bites, that is. Solita serves up corn and flour tortillas, both of which came with our Queso Al Forno. Perfectly packed inside paper and a paper box, they arrived at home still warm and ready to be filled and rolled.
8 // Sometimes It's OK To Label
Sometimes we get so excited about eating, we forget what we ordered immediately after rattling it off to our server. Such is our experience ordering treats to go. Lucky for us, Solita staffers label each and every item, leaving the guessing to your neighbors who are wondering why you're happily humming while stuffing your face.
9 // Prepare To Party
Solita's takeout menu includes the full in-house menu, plus a couple bonus options. Half-pound à la carte offerings, like the wood-grilled ancho chile chicken and the mushrooms with garlic, give eaters who like to play with their food a chance to build their own edible masterpieces. Party food also just tipped the scale with the $140 street taco buffet "Party Pickup" option, which includes enough fixin's for more than 30 tacos. Yes, please.
10 // Horchata
As if we needed another reason to blast Vampire Weekend's "Horchata" and sip this milky, cinnamon-dusted beverage... Solita's housemade horchata is our go-to cocktail, and the fact that they offer the mix to go for just $8 is utterly amazing. We opted for this instead of a dessert, and it tasted just as good as when served at the bar, even with our generous pours of our just-above-the-bottom-shelf tequila.
As a token of Solita's and our love, we've partnered up to offer $50 worth of takeout treats (to be used during one visit) to one lucky winner. Head over to our Facebook page for details. The winner will be announced on Friday, July 18, at 10 a.m. Good luck!
To try Solita takeout for yourself, view the menu online, then dial 714-894-2792. Takeout hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.