Tag Archives: SOL Mexican Cocina


SOL Mexican Cocina offers Baja cuisine with a modern twist

SOL Hot & Raw Tropical CevicheWhen the food on a plate is so seductive that it’s devoured before it can be photographed and shared with the social media stratosphere, you know it’s something special.

SOL Mexican Cocina in the Scottsdale Quarter is something special.

Executive Chef Deborah Schneider has created bold, modern interpretations of traditional coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients.

SOL does an impeccable job of matching the mood with the menu, creating an environment that is the perfect juxtaposition of Old World charm and hip, urban comfort. Located at the Scottsdale Quarter, SOL is the ideal place to sit back, relax and sip on a margarita with friends. The perfectly shaded patio features plush seating, an outdoor bar and a view overlooking the heart of Scottsdale.

SOL does something else most restaurants don’t do: It features an open kitchen with seating so guests can see their dinners being created.

“I insist on cooking in an open kitchen (for) two reasons,” Schneider says. “One: The kitchen is the heart of the restaurant. Two: Because they can see us and we can see them. I am cooking for a real person, and I think it creates a deeper connection in each direction.”

Scheider, author of “Baja! Cooking on the Edge,” has created a menu that offers an alternative to the Mexican food we are used to eating. SOL’s chefs focus on flavorful cuisine in smaller, healthier portions. Don’t think that healthy translates to boring and tasteless. SOL’s dishes are as vibrant and dynamic as you will find anywhere. Some of the dishes that stood out during a recent visit:

“Naked Guacamole,” made with ripe avocados, cilantro, lime, onions, serrano chiles, tomatoes and served with tostadas. It’s in the running for the best guacamole in the Valley.

“Coconut Calamari,” deep-fried calamari steak dusted with dried orange peel and sesame seeds, with spicy lime dipping sauce.

“Grilled Fish Taco Zarandeado Taco Plate,” adobo-marinated and grilled, with pineapple-cucumber salsa, salsa quemada, cabbage and avocado sauce. My mouth is watering at the memory.

“Pork Carnitas,” premium pork slow-roasted and shredded, served en cazuela with diced avocado, onion and cilantro, tomatillo salsa and chicharron. So perfectly cooked, it melts in your mouth like cotton candy.

“Carne Estofado,” angus skirt steak grilled and sliced, tossed with pan-seared peppers and onions, garlic and cilantro and served with chimichurri sauce, avocado and a grilled jalapeno. This may be the most flavorful mouthful of red meat we’ve ever experienced.

To complement the amazing dishes, SOL’s dynamic bar offers inventive hand-made cocktails, featuring more than 60 artisan tequilas and the best margaritas in Scottsdale.

Make sure to take your friends when you visit SOL, because words won’t be able to capture the deliciousness of the dishes. And your Facebook friends won’t get to see pictures because the plates will be empty before you can say “click.”


SOL Mexican Cocina

15323 N. Scottsdale Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85254

(480) 245-6708


The OH Pool Bar + Cabanas at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.

Hotel Valley Ho anchors Cactus League experience

Original Hotel Valley Ho owner Robert Foehl, Ted Williams and Bob Feller.

Original Hotel Valley Ho owner Robert Foehl, Ted Williams and Bob Feller.

To truly embrace Arizona’s spring training experience you need to start with an anchor. For Cactus League baseball fans, there may be no better anchor than the retro-chic Hotel Valley Ho in Downtown Scottsdale.

The hotel has hosted Baseball Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Ferguson Jenkins, George Brett, Rickey Henderson and Leo Durocher. More recently, the Hotel Valley Ho has been the spring training home to Tim Lincecum, Ryan Howard, Coco Crisp, Ichirio Suzuki, Barry Zito and Hideki Matsui, to name just a few.

But beyond the baseball history, the Hotel Valley Ho is centrally located with easy access to all spring training facilities in the valley, features some rooms equipped with kitchens and all rooms have access to the hotel’s amazing OH Pool Bar + Cabanas.

The hotel really hits a home run with baseball fans by offering a Spring Training Weekday Savings special. The special is valid Sundays to Wednesdays through March 31 and includes 15 percent off the best available room rate, a welcome amenity and two drinks upon arrival. Click here to make reservations or call 866-882-4484.

For a complete guide to every Cactus League team and stadium, check out the digital issue of Play Ball magazine.


If you’re staying at the Hotel Valley Ho or somewhere else in Scottsdale, here are some of the best hotspots to make your Spring Training game day complete:

SOL Mexican Cocina

Located at the Scottsdale Quarter, SOL Mexican Cocina’s patio is the ideal place to sit back, relax and sip on a margarita before or after a day at the ballpark. The restaurant’s menu features Executive Chef Deborah Schneider’s bold, modern interpretations of traditional Coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday you can stop by for SOL’s happy hour. Try some of the restaurant’s baja inspired dishes or refreshing margaritas at a discounted price. SOL is located at 15323 N Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85254. For more information, visit www.solcocina.com.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Old Town

Enjoy your favorite pizza while you soak up the Desert sun and spring breeze. Each of Grimaldi’s eight Arizona locations has a distinct patio. So if you’re in the mood for pizza and a cannoli or just want to enjoy a glass of vino or beer, Grimaldi’s in Old Town is a perfect place to unwind after a game. Grimaldi’s in Scottsdale is located at 4000 North Scottsdale Rd. Ste. 105. For more information, visit www.grimaldispizzeria.com.

Kelly’s at SouthBridge

To enjoy the cool weather and feel the awesome Old Town atmosphere, hit Kelly’s at SouthBridge before or after your spring training game. It’s the perfect place for some pre/post game day drinks. Join them on Wednesdays for their live music on the patio after 5 p.m. Located on Sixth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the 8,000 square foot upscale restaurant offers traditional pub classics mixed with exceptional modern cuisine and the perfect laid back atmosphere. Kelly’s is located at 7117 E 6th Avenue, in Scottsdale. For more information, visit www.kellysatsouthbridge.com.

Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery

Save some money before you hit the game with those ballpark prices and enjoy specials on their “Hoppy Hour” menu throughout the week. The dishes range in price from $2 to $5 and are offered daily. Visit their Scottsdale location at 7077 E. Bell Rd or try out their Paradise Valley location at 4731 E. Cactus Rd. www.tiltedkilt.com.

Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill

Scottsdale’s newest dining addition, Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill, opened in February at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Hail a golf cart to take you to the games from the comfort of their 1,500 square foot patio. Enjoy happy hour, seven days a week from 3:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m. & again from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. Choose from $4 featured pints, house margaritas, well drinks and featured wine. There’s even a $3.95-$5.95 food menu. The venue is located at 7014 East Camelback Road Suite 1423, in Scottsdale. For more information, visit thirstyliongastropub.com/scottsdale.


From March 3 through April 4, baseball reigns supreme in the West Valley with five ballparks hosting more than half of the MLB teams in the Cactus League. If you’re heading toward the West Valley to check out spring training game, Westgate Entertainment District is the hub of activity for baseball fans looking to grab a bite, a few beers and sweet treats or enjoy live music and a little shopping before or after the game.

All season long, fans are encouraged to show their ticket stub to take advantage of the many deals offered by Westgate tenants including:

Saddle Ranch Chop House

20 percent discount on total food bill. Does not apply to happy hour.

http://www.srrestaurants.com/glendale, 623-889-7770


20 percent discount on total bill.

http://www.mcfaddensglendale.com, 623-872-0010

Just Sports

20 percent discount on one regular-priced item.

www.justsportsaz.com, 623-872-9490

Calico Jack’s Mexican Cantina

20 percent discount on total bill.

www.calicojacksglendale.com, 623-877-5225

Crave Waffle Sandwich Creations

Buy one, get one 50 percent off. Applies to all menu items except alcohol and discounted items. Must be of equal or lesser value and cannot be combined with any other offer.

www.icravewaffles.com, 623-772-0622

OPA Life Greek Café

20 percent discount on any order.

www.opalifegreekcafe.com, 623-242-8338

Whiskey Rose Bar and Grill

Receive one free appetizer with the purchase of one regular-priced entrée.

www.whiskeyrosewestgate.com, 623-877-7673

As You Wish Pottery

50 percent discount on a regular studio fee.

www.asyouwishpottery.com, 623-772-5403

Kabuki Japanese Restaurant

15 percent discount on total bill. Offer valid for same-day ticket stubs only.

http://www.kabukirestaurants.com, 623-772-9832


$5 off a purchase of $20 or more with same-day ticket stub.

www.itsugar.com, 623-877-8124

Fractured Prune Doughnuts

One free 16 oz. fountain soda drink with the purchase of two or more made-to-order Fractured Prune Doughnuts. Not valid in the US Airways Center, must show game-day ticket stub and valid on game days only.

www.fracturedprune.com, 623-872-0008

Cold Stone Creamery

10 percent discount on any order (excluding gift card purchases).

www.coldstonecreamery.com, 623-877-1580

Fresh Healthy Café

10 percent discount on any order.

www.cafefresh.com , 623-505-3277

Shane’s Rib Shack

20 percent discount on one regular-priced item.

www.shanesribshack.com , 623-877-7427

Mama Gina’s Pizzeria

20 percent off one regular-priced item.

www.mamaginaspizzeria.com , 623-872-0300

Johnny Rockets

10 percent discount on any order.

www.johnnyrockets.com , 623-877-2977

The Shout! House

Show your ticket stub to receive a $1 domestic draft, well wine or well liquor drink.   

http://www.theshouthouse.com/az, 623-772-1500

Ice skaters at Fairmont Princess

There is still time to book a memorable holiday party

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for a party. With the economic downturn slowly starting to appear in the rearview mirror, the office holiday party might be something that slipped your mind because it hasn’t been in the budget in years past. So if you still need to place to host your happening, here are a variety of options to create a memorable holiday event for employees.

Bar North at the Kierland Commons
With a gorgeous view of the main Kierland Commons courtyard, Bar North can host up to 60 guests reception style. The inside dining area is perfect for cocktail parties or lavish business dinners for up to 50 people.
How to book: 480-905-3278 or email asomers@foxrc.net

Blanco Tacos + Tequila at The Biltmore Fashion Park
Blanco’s private dining has the perfect spot for your fiesta. The private dining space is a hacienda style and comes complete with its own bar. Guest can mingle reception style up to 75, or sit down family style for up to 60 guests.
How to book: 480-905-3278 or email asomers@foxrc.net

The Clubhouse at Tonto Verde
The Clubhouse is just minutes from North Scottsdale and offers both indoor and outdoor event venues. Its experienced staff and culinary team will customize and handle every detail of your holiday party to assure that it is worry free.
How to book: 480-471-2582 or tontoverde.org

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row
You will enjoy a one-of-a-kind, high-energy experience in our warm and inviting space. Guests are welcomed to savor Whiskey Row’s award-winning, made from scratch menu. Features also include: live bands and DJs, karaoke, liquor and beer tasting, personal beer taps, decorations, games and more.
How to book: 928-710-8985 or email tinapeterson@riothg.com

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
With two 23,000 square-foot ballrooms, outdoor courtyards and three distinctive restaurants (Michael Mina’s Bourbon  Steak, La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval and the new Toro Latin Restaurant opening at the TPC Scottsdale) plus The Plaza Bar in the main plaza, there are endless possibilities for holiday parties, from intimate gatherings to grand galas.
How to book: 480-585-4848 or scottsdaleprincess.com

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria Old Town
With Frank Sinatra crooning in the background and the tantalizing aromas of over 100 years of pizza-making tradition in the air, Grimaldi’s combines classic pizzeria charm with a modern, stylish, loft-like atmosphere. Grimaldi’s is an excellent cost effective way to feed large parties and intimate gatherings, alike.
How to book: 480-874-8209 or email events@grimaldispizzeria.com

The Henry   
From the large private room with industrial touches, to a private kitchen that feels like the best home chef’s kitchen, The Henry is set to accommodate 10 to 100 guests. Like any seasoned host, The Henry offers reception menus or limited coursed menus of its tried and true favorites.
How to book: 480-751-2934 or email lbyke@foxrc.net

Hotel Valley Ho
Downtown Scottsdale’s historic icon offers fabulous fare for holiday parties and hip venues like the panoramic Sky Line Rooftop, high-tech SoHo Ballroom, and Sands, a private indoor-outdoor event space. Hotel Valley Ho has you covered, whether you’re hosting 50 guests or 500.
How to book: 480-248-2017 or hotelvalleyho.com

Kelly’s at SouthBridge
Located on Sixth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the 8,000-square-foot swanky pub offers traditional pub classics mixed with exceptional modern cuisine. Their private and semi-private dining spaces and patios offer a variety of options for any event. They can accommodate groups between 10 and 300 people.
How to book: 480-393-3205 or email events@kellysatsouthbridge

Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix
Savor holiday fare and craft cocktails at this Downtown Phoenix boutique hotel. Choose from three different party packages to create a custom event including a holiday mixer, a festive buffet or the fare with flair package. Invite your guests to take the elevator home and spend the night while enjoying 20 percent off the best available rate when you book an event.
How to book: 480-478-1730 or email catering@hotelpalomar-phoenix.com

North in Arcadia
North has turned a modern lens on Italian cooking. Transport your guests to what feels like a charming Italian side street culinary gem with a patio event that seats up to 55, or can accommodate 70 guests reception style. The warm glow of the fireplace with set the mood and heaters will keep guests warm throughout the winter months.
How to book: 480-905-3278 or email asomers@foxrc.net

Octane Raceway
Octane Raceway offers the 45 mph Sodi-RTX karts, a Segway obstacle course, rock wall, video games and billiards. Octane also offers state of the art conference rooms with full A/V hookups, as well as a full kitchen and bar.
How to book: 602-302-7223

Olive & Ivy
At Olive & Ivy, discover an enticing selection of unexpected and familiar dishes in a rich, elegant, laid-back atmosphere. For special occasions or business meetings, the restaurant offers two private dining areas and beautiful patio space accommodating a varying number of guests.
How to book: 480-905-3273 or email nlasker@foxrc.net

The Phoenician
From grand ballrooms to intimate salons to a variety of signature dining venues, The Phoenician designs elegant holiday events for gatherings of all sizes.
How to book: 480-423-2722

Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse
Rawhide Western Town promises to deliver up a true western experience with 14 unique venues within town to host your private events perfectly along with multiple Wild West attractions and shops. Features include live action stunt shows, stagecoach rides and mechanical bull rides.
How to book: 480-705-2946 or email toni.mennuti@rawhide.com

Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy
Forget about Ho! Ho! Ho! and say Ha! Ha! Ha! Join Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy and make this holiday the merriest yet. They can accommodate groups of 10-300 and do it all — drink, dine and laughs. They will even pick on the boss for you!
How to book: 480-420-3553 or email az@houseofcomedy.net

The Rocket
Let the party come to you. The Rocket, the food truck brought to you by North Italia, is a 700-degree wood burning pizza oven on wheels. It’s built to turn fresh ingredients and hand-stretched dough into a piping hot pizza pie in less than eight minutes. With five different signature pizzas, fresh salads, charcuterie and bruschetta, you can proudly cater a private party or corporate event for up to 300 people.
How to book: 480-751-2202  or email kmahoney@foxrc.net

Royal Palms Resort & Spa
For 12-18 people, the historic resort offers a variety of venues including the Delos room at T. Cook’s, The Study at The Mix Up Bar or the architecturally rich Vernadero boardroom overlooking the lawn and reflecting pool. The resort, built in 1929 as a private mansion, has cobblestone pathways, tucked-away courtyards with fountains and an enchanting atmosphere.
How to book: 602-808-3206 or email wstark@destinationhotels.com

SOL Mexican Cocina
Add a little Baja flavor to your holiday festivities. From sit-down, coursed meals to family style sharing or the more informal cocktail style party, SOL Mexican Cocina in Scottsdale Quarter can cater any holiday event to your needs. Available for private events are the patio and the private dining rooms.
How to book: 480-245-6708 or email scottsdaleevents@solcocina.com

Stand Up Live
The downtown Phoenix comedy club offers all-inclusive holiday packages to fit any budget that include show ticket, plated three-course dinner or appetizer, one top-shelf cocktail, tax, and gratuity. Stand Up Live can accommodate groups ranging from 20-500 guests with no waiting in line, waived service fees and all-inclusive pricing.
How to book: 480-467-3162 or email justine@standuplive.com

Taco Guild
Taco Guild’s Key Room holds 24 people, offers full kitchen, bar and wait staff. The innovative tacos at the celebrated restaurant in North Central Phoenix were recently named by Travel + Leisure Magazine as among the best in the United States.
How to book: 602-264-4143 or tacoguild.com

Talking Stick Resort
Talking Stick Resort invites guests to end the year in style when it hosts its Fire and Ice New Year’s Eve Party on Dec. 31. Kicking off at 6:30 p.m. in the Salt River Grand Ballroom, the two-day celebration will feature an all-you-can-eat buffet, cocktail specials and live performances by the legendary Sam Moore and Boogie Knights.
How to book: 480-850-7734 or talkingstickresort.com.

Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill
Whether your group’s small or large, Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill can provide a great experience and value for any holiday event. They feature multiple options including a private event room and bar. Enjoy your choice of their 52 local, craft, import and domestic beers on draft or one of their unique specialty cocktails.
How to book: email ashelton@ceghospitality.com

Uptown Alley
Uptown Alley has 60,000 square feet of fun for everyone including 40 lanes of state-of-the-art bowling, an upscale, casual full service restaurant, two high-energy bars, a sports theater, billiards, laser tag, over 80 video and prize games, live entertainment, private party rooms and much more. Special packages that include game play, rock and bowl, holiday menu and laser tag are available.
How to book: email kjovic@uptownalleysurprise.com

Wrigley Mansion
The Wrigley Mansion Venue and Restaurant, a landmark building constructed between 1929 and 1931 by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., offers breathtaking views of the Valley and can accommodate private events ranging in size from 10 to 1,200.
How to book: 602-553-7295 or wrigleymansion.com


Valley dining spots welcome patio season

It’s fall which means the desert is starting to cool down! Restaurant and bar goers all over the Valley begin to seek out the best spots to indulge in the beautiful Arizona weather. But look no further— these local restaurants have Valley residents covered with killer patios throughout Metro Phoenix.


Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill: Located in Tempe Marketplace, Thirsty Lion Pub and Grill has a great wrap around patio. With a southwestern exposure, the Thirsty Lion patio is perfect for watching the fall sunset. At this hip gastropub, you’ll find great food, more than a dozen big screen TVs, two bars and 52 beers on tap. Enjoy happy hour, seven days a week from 3:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m. & again from 9:30 p.m. to close. For more information, visit www.thirstylionpub.com.


TapHouse Kitchen: Located at The Hilton Village in Scottsdale, this neighborhood kitchen features a seasonal menu of “Modern American Cuisine” prepared in a “Scratch” kitchen. The 3,500 square foot location accommodates 144 guests and features a rustic and woody décor. The restaurant has a fully air-conditioned patio, with a large garage door that creates an indoor- outdoor atmosphere. Take advantage of their happy hour seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy $2 off House Wine (Cupcake Chardonnay & Cabernet), $2 off all draft beer, spirits & wine on tap, $2 off all beer flights, $2 off all TapHouse Kitchen custom cocktails, $2 off Tap”House” Margaritas and $1 off all well drinks. TapHouse Kitchen is located at 6137 N. Scottsdale Rd, #108 in Scottsdale. To find out more visit them at TapHouseKitchen.com or visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TapHouseKitchen.

Kelly’s at SouthBridge: To both enjoy the cool weather and feel the awesome Old Town atmosphere, hit Kelly’s at SouthBridge this fall. Their spacious outdoor patio, adorned with bright red umbrellas, is hard to miss—it’s the perfect place for lunch, dinner, happy hour or late night festivities. There’s also plenty of room for big groups or parties too! Located on Sixth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the 8,000 square foot upscale restaurant offers traditional pub classics mixed with exceptional modern cuisine and the perfect laid back atmosphere. Enjoy ½ price bottles of wine (with purchase of food) 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and all day Sunday. For more information, visit www.kellysatsouthbridge.com.


SOL Mexican Cocina: Located at the Scottsdale Quarter, SOL Mexican Cocina’s patio is the ideal place to sit back, relax and sip on margarita after a day of shopping or before a night out. The perfectly shaded patio features plush seating, an outdoor bar and a view overlooking the vibrant heart of Scottsdale. The restaurant’s menu features Executive Chef Deborah Schneider’s bold, modern interpretations of traditional Coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients. Designed to echo the expansive sea, sky, and desert of the Baja peninsula, SOL features old world charm juxtaposed with an urban comfort. For more information, visit www.solcocina.com.


Tilted Kilt: Overlooking downtown Phoenix at Cityscape is where this patio is located. At this Celtic-themed pub and eatery, you will always find five things: ice cold beer and plenty of it, a mouthwatering menu full of traditional and contemporary pub fare, large TV screens showcasing sporting events, a festive atmosphere full of fun and friends, and attractive cast members eager to put a smile on your face and make you feel right at home. Enjoy specials on their “Hoppy Hour” menu throughout the week. www.tiltedkilt.com.


Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: Enjoy your favorite pizza while you soak up the beautiful fall season. Each of Grimaldi’s eight Arizona locations has a distinct patio. The Peoria location has one of the largest—lining the entire north side of the building with seating for about 50 people. So if you’re in the mood for pizza and cannoli or just want to enjoy a glass of vino or beer, Grimaldi’s in Peoria is a perfect place to unwind. For more information, visit www.grimaldispizzeria.com.

Uptown Alley: Uptown Alley, located in Surprise, is a 60,000 square foot family entertainment venue featuring bowling, an arcade, two-level laser tag, an ultra-lounge and more. Check out their great patio during this fall at their full-service restaurant, Red Embers Bar and Grill. Indulge in six-hundred calorie selections, gluten free dishes, craft sandwiches, new signature burgers and a custom Burger Bar. Guests can also take advantage of the special Tailgate Menu that’s available every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday throughout football season. The menu includes items such as Smoked Turkey Legs, Chili Cheese Franks and Stadium Nachos. During the regular season every Sunday guests can enjoy the Touchdown Special that includes one game of bowling, shoe rental and a $5 game card all for just $7. Visit www.uptownalleysurprise.com for more information.

Courtesy of SOL Cocina

The Dish: National Guacamole Day

It’s no secret that Americans love their food. Following suit of our country’s beloved foodstuffs, the Mexican cuisine-inspired green mash known as guacamole has its own day — September 16.  If this isn’t the best excuse to eat guac on a spoon, we don’t know what is.

If you’re anything like us, guacamole is a dinner staple. Whether it’s slathered on a burger or piled on a mountain of tortilla chips, we’ll eat it in a box, with a fox, etc. From Barrio Queen’s pomegranate or craisin guacamole to Sumomaya’s cherry gauc, Arizona’s chefs have taken the avocado dip to whole new levels. One of our favorites is from Scottsdale Quarter’s SOL Mexican Cocina. The restaurant was kind enough to share a recipe for its Guacamole Verano.

Notes: This light guacamole tastes just like summer. It contains no onions, tomato or cilantro.
Serves: 2 to 4

What you need:
Juice of half a fresh lime (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, lightly toasted
8-10 ripe raspberries
1 teaspoon minced seeded serrano chiles
1 tablespoon cotixa cheese, feta cheese or goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon ‘Tajine’ brand chile con limon
Peel and seed the avocado and mash it with the fresh-squeezed lime juice and salt to taste in a molcajete or small bowl. Arrange the almonds, raspberries, serrano chiles and crumbled cheese in neat rows on top. Spinkle the chile con limon on the raspberries to bring out their sweetness. Stir everything together before enjoying with tostadas and an ice-cold margarita!

Cinco de Mayo, Thinkstock, WEB

Tastes of Cinco de Mayo

Although Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, but rather a small win for the Mexican army in Puebla against the French in the Franco-Mexican War, the holiday is recognized in the United States as a day of awareness and celebration of Mexican culture. Many restaurants provide special menus with Mexican-inspired cocktails and appetizers as well as mariachi music, folk dancing and parties. Hopefully there will be enough limes to support all those margaritas and guacamole!

This weekend, starting with Saturday, May 3, through Monday, May 5, provides a multitude of Cinco de Mayo options such as:

Mexican Food

  • America’s Taco Shop: If you are looking for authentic Mexican food, you have to visit America’s Taco Shop. They will be serving a traditional Mexican dish – Al Pastor – a slow-cooked, thinly sliced pork, marinated in a mild spiced citrus and pasilla adobo and served with minced cabbage, cilantro, tomato sauce, guacamole and thin strips of grilled pineapple.


  • SOL Mexican Cocina: Looking for the perfect margarita? SOL Mexican Cocina’s Corralejo Watermelon Basil Margarita is simply fruity perfection. Combine that with guacamole and Baja cuisine and you are ready for a great Cinco de Mayo.
  • The Herb Box: Drink without the calories? Try the $5 Skinny Superfruit Margarita at The Herb Box. The drink includes Herradura Blanco, Chambord, fresh lime juice and club soda. The Herb Box will also release its new Drinx menu with all day happy hour pricing. Try 10 new cocktails for $8 such as the Vanilla Lemon Drop or Nutty Angel. They will also be serving wine and craft beer.

Parties and New Experiences

  • Sandbar: If you are looking for a full-weekend experience, then Sandbar is your place. The three-day party will include live music and DJs, the Mayweather vs. Maidana fight and, of course, drink specials. Music includes Rockhard and Whiskey’s Quicker on Saturday, The Crown Kings and Pyrosteria on Sunday and Jay Allen and The Uncommon Good and Redneck Rockstars on Monday. You can get your drink on with $3 beers and $5 margaritas all weekend long.
  • Uptown Alley: Try an entirely new Cinco de Mayo experience with the entertainment venue of Uptown Alley. You can eat and drink Mexican-inspired items like $3 tecates, $5 tacos and $5 margaritas while you go bowling, play video games or dominate at laser tag.
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes: If you are really looking to try something new this weekend, you have to try the margarita cupcake from Sprinkles Cantina. This inspired cupcake is composed of a tequila-key lime cake, topped with key lime frosting, a rim of fleur de sel and a festive green and red modern dot. This item is sure to make your Cinco de Mayo party unique.


SOL Carnitas Tacos

SOL Mexican Cocina to Introduce Taco & Tequila Tuesday on February 5

SOL Mexican Cocina is bringing a popular Southern California Tuesday night tradition to the desert! On February 5 beginning at 4 p.m., SOL Cocina is introducing Taco & Tequila Tuesday. Every Tuesday at SOL Cocina, guests will enjoy special discounts on tacos, tequila, Mexican Beer, and margaritas all night long, while also rocking out to live music. To introduce the launch of Taco Tuesday, on February 5, Major League Baseball great, Mike Hampton, will guest bartend at SOL Cocina, and guests will have a chance to win an autographed Billy Gibbons guitar.

Beginning February 5, every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to midnight enjoy specially priced tacos, guacamole, and Mexican beers, plus tequila and margaritas featuring Pura Vida, a premium tequila distilled exclusively from hand-selected and hand-harvested, estate grown, 100% Blue Weber Agave. Every Tuesday, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Jake Dean will keep the party going with his blend of popular acoustic music. To kick off the festivities on February 5, Retired Major League Baseball Pitcher, Mike Hampton will be mixing up margaritas behind the bar from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Most recently with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hampton was known throughout his career for being one of the best hitting pitchers of his time, and currently he is a spokesperson and investor in Pura Vida Tequila. Guests will also have a chance to win a signed Fender guitar by ZZ Top Frontman, Billy Gibbons, who’s also an investor in Pura Vida.

The Taco & Tequila Tuesday menu features 2 Chicken Street Tacos for $2.50, 2 Carnitas Street Tacos for $3, an Ensenada Fish Taco for $2.50, a Grilled Fish Taco for $3.50, and Naked Guacamole for $5.50. Wash down these specials with a Pura Vida House Blanco Margarita for $5.50 (regular) or $8 (grande), a Pura Vida Blanco Skinny Margarita for $6.50 (regular) or $9 (grande), a Frozen Margarita for $5.50, or a Mexican bottled beer for $3.50. For a pure tequila experience, try a Pura Vida Tequila Tasting Flight for $12.

SOL Mexican Cocina is located on the north end of The Scottsdale Quarter at 15323 N. Scottsdale Rd. For more information, call (480) 245-6708 or visit www.SOLcocina.com. Follow SOL on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SolCocina and on Twitter at @SOL_COCINA.

SOL Cocina

Mimosas & Mexican Food: Brunch At SOL Cocina

On June 23rd, SOL Cocina began serving brunch with a south-of-the-border, Baja twist.

When I think brunch, I picture myself, mimosa in hand, mingling and schmoozing with socialites donned in their Sunday best — nay, more like their Kentucky Derby attire (floppy hats, sun dresses, the whole shebang).

But, in reality, brunch is nothing like that. Well, the mimosa is still in the picture, of course; those are always involved.

For this particular Sunday morning/afternoon, we decided on SOL Cocina, which had a newly added brunch menu. Now, I had only ever ventured to Olive & Ivy for brunch, and its menu consisted of dishes with typical items, including potatoes, eggs, toast, bacon, etc. So when I asked myself if Mexican food at 11 a.m. was a good idea, I had no idea what to expect. My stomach wasn’t used to digesting south-of-the-border food before the dinner (or fourth meal) hour.

After roaming the Scottsdale Quarter, we finally found SOL Cocina, and I’m still not sure how we missed it with its bright, bold-red awning. Here’s one thing to note: There is, in fact, a parking garage located right next to the restaurant.

While waiting for our other two guests, we were greeted by our spunky waitress, who informed us that the limes, hot sauce and salt on the table were considered in Mexico the “salt and pepper of the table.” Thank goodness because I was starting to worry I wasn’t wild enough for this place, thinking margaritas were in store.

If you’re a wimp like me and can’t handle spicy or hot food, go easy on the “mild” salsa when tostada dipping. Considered an eight (out of 10) by the restaurant, the waitress swore it was more of a two. No, that salsa had a spicy kick when I least expected it. Looks like I have at least one thing in common with the one who gave the salsa that eight rating — we’re salsa soul mates.

So as I washed down the salsa with my mimosa — which, by the way ladies and the only 20-something male in the restaurant that day daintily sipping on one, SOL offers $1 refills, after paying the initial $7; what a deal! — I skimmed the menu, looking over the brunch options, and this caught every one of our eyes: “Enough to feed the whole family — ”. We scoffed. Papas ‘Papi’, challenge accepted. We also ordered the Machaca Wrap Ahogado, the Breakfast Torta and the Souffle Carlotta.

Rounds of coffee, orange juice and water later, our food — or shall I say, “feast” — arrived.

Two things: One, they weren’t kidding about the Papas ‘Papi’ feeding the entire family; and two, just how big of a family are they referring to anyway?

The Papas ‘Papi’ was a heart-stopping heap of food, with potatoes, onions, melted cheese, pork chorizo, bacon, serrano chiles, green onions and pice de gallo — all smothered with crema. It made the rest of our dishes look like amuse-bouches. Surprisingly, the Papas ‘Papi’ was my favorite of the four dishes.

The Souffle Carlotta came in second, with its soft and sweet Mexican kick. Considered SOL’s version of the French toast, the Souffle Carlotta had a hint of Patron Citronage and lemon zest in the bread pudding, which, for a slight moment, brought back memories of my grandmother’s flan. (The language isn’t the only thing the Mexican and Filipino cultures have in common, even if just slightly.) Topped and drizzled with organic agave syrup, mango, berries, vanilla whipped cream, almonds and powdered sugar, this dish quickly became a favorite.

As for the Machaca Wrap Ahogado, who doesn’t love machaca? Growing up in Yuma, Ariz., I had yet to find a Mexican food restaurant in the Valley that ever came close to the authentic food found in the town bordered by both Mexico and California; but with this machaca dish, SOL Cocina is now the closest thing.

Cooked with ancho chile, onion, cumin and oregano, the shredded beef concoction folded in a flour tortilla with eggs, cheese, refried beans, all topped with red salsa and pico de gallo, had “great flavor composition,” according to one of my brunch companions. The layers of ingredients complemented one another and wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be.

The Breakfast Torta, on the other hand, was a more traditional brunch entree, compared to the flavor combinations of the other three dishes. The telera roll stuffed with eggs, cheese, bacon, avocado and pickled jalapenos, however, was still a delicious treat. Compared to other greasy, messy tortas I’ve had in the past, this one tasted fresh and didn’t weigh me down. (And this is probably due to the fact that SOL Cocina works with fresh, seasonal ingredients.)

With its old world charm, SOL Cocina not only offers a comfortable, cozy environment to gather with friends and family on an early Sunday afternoon, it also offers authentic Mexican, Baja California inspired cuisine and authentic flavors.

In hindsight, I’m glad we parked on the other side of the Quarter; I definitely needed to walk off all of that food — and window shop, of course.

For more information about SOL Cocina, visit solcocina.com.

SOL Mexican Cocina
15323 N. Scottsdale Rd.
(480) 245-6708

SOL Mexican Cocina

SOL Mexican Cocina: A Healthy Approach To Mexican Food

Push away that heaping plate of beans, rice and melted cheese, and take a healthier approach to Mexican food with SOL Mexican Cocina.

SOL Mexican Cocina offers an alternative to Mexican food we are used to, focusing on healthy but flavorful cuisine in smaller portions. Opening its second location at the Scottsdale Quarter within the first two weeks of March, SOL Mexican Cocina models the cuisine and atmosphere of Baja, Mexico.

Rich Howland, operating partner of SOL Mexican Cocina, says that the goal of the restaurant is for diners to feel like they are on vacation while enjoying traditional cuisine and handcrafted cocktails.

“What you will find on our menu is a large selection of appetizers that have very bold flavors and are really designed to share,” Howland says. “You order three, four or five different things, and it keeps that social environment we discovered down in Baja.”

Deborah M. Schneider, executive chef of SOL Mexican Cocina, says her inspiration comes from Mexico, not from other Mexican restaurants in America. Schneider who is the author of “Baja! Cooking on the Edge” as well as five other books on Mexican cooking says traditional Mexican food is lighter and better for you.SOL Mexican Cocina

Most of the items on the menu are vegetable-based, high in fiber and include healthier items like brown rice. But this does not go along with the myth that all healthy food has to be boring and tasteless. In fact, at SOL Mexican Cocina it is quite the opposite.

Schneider says the trick to healthy, flavorful food is keeping it simple with fresh, high-quality produce.

“Chef always emphasizes letting the flavors speak for themselves,” Howland says. “If you take a really fresh, high-quality tomato, it tastes how a tomato should.”

Even the bar uses only the freshest, best-quality ingredients. For instance, the margarita sour mix is made from fresh juice everyday, and all cocktails are handcrafted with muddled fruit that also arrives daily.

SOL Mexican Cocina has created 20 to 25 original cocktails switched in and out throughout the year based on what fruit is in season.

Howland says SOL Mexican Cocina also strives to stimulate your visual senses and in doing so created a sophisticated but casual environment for their diners to enjoy.

“We hope the end result is people feel comfortable, but they also look at it from a standpoint of being stimulated visually because great food is enhanced through your other senses: smell, taste and sight,” Howland says.

The open kitchen may contribute to that.

“I insist on cooking in an open kitchen because of two reasons,” Schneider says. “One, the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant, and two, because they can see us, and we can see them. I am cooking for a real person, and I think it creates a deeper connection in each direction.”

Howland says a successful restaurant has to include more than great food nowadays.

“It has to be about atmosphere, ambiance and the environment that you create within the restaurant,” Howland says. “I think that really is our goal, to capture not just the great food, which you would expect but also focusing on creating a comfortable, social, fun and high-energy environment.”

For more information about SOL Mexican Cocina, visit solcocina.com.