Opening Hours 11:00 a.m. till 11:00 a.m. Sat-Thurs and 12 noon till 11:00 p.m. FridayCall Now
Solo Tacos brings Tijuana-style street food and big Mexican flavours to the Sultanate – with lashings of hot sauce for good measure.
At the risk of making generalisations, we’re going to go out on a limb and say it – finding good Mexican food in the region is as elusive as finding a needle in the proverbial haystack (or sand dune).
Outside of the big-box mall chains a la Chili’s, certainly there are those who have tried and failed, with business models built around the assumption that big chains can be authentic.
Enter Solo Tacos. This newly-opened eatery in the Al Qurum Complex is a ripe contender for top spot in an enclave packed cheek-by-jowl with dining options that leave us spoiled for choice.
A Kuwaiti export, believe it or not; it’s a vibrantly-outfitted space the colourful interior of which adds a kick of spice to your experience as much as what is on the menu.
With an open-plan kitchen and industrial décor that makes the most of its raw materials, the walls are adorned with rainbow splashes of colour with a nod to the graffiti-style street art murals that depict the mighty Mexican luchador wrestlers in all their glory.
There’s a cafeteria-style main bar area with stool-top seating where you can grab a bite while watching your order being made, and shelves are stocked high with every species of miniature cacti imaginable that act as funky accent dividers for the rest of the seating space.
A pair of saloon-style batwing doors lead to the hand-wash area, while outside ample umbrellaed tables make for shady-cool al fresco dining on their patio terrace.
It’s noon on a Friday when we arrive for an early lunch – pleasantly surprised that they were actually open at this time of day. We’re not the only ones to venture out either, with several tables already occupied on the terrace. When loyal customers get out of bed on the weekend and make a lunch-time beeline to your outlet, we take that as a good sign.
As it’s our first time here, we opt to sit inside and get a feel for the ambience. We’re seated at a table next to the wall of cacti with a prime view of the action in the open kitchen. Scanning the menu, we note that, in comparison to the encyclopaedic tomes of catch-all cuisines that seem to be the norm nowadays, Solo Tacos’ offerings are humbly reserved.
Sticking to what they know best – all manner of tacos and their closely-related derivatives, they do one thing and do it well. And, really, it makes ordering simple so you get on to what it is you came for – enjoying some fire in your belly.
We start with a sharing portion of their Solo Nachos, followed by hard and soft-shell varieties of their Marinated Chicken Los Tacos (our waitress encouraged us to try both, with a smile), and a Marinated Chicken Burrito. To wash it down we try their signature Jamaica drink – an infusion of hibiscus flowers that arrives at the table in a glass as dark as claret. I opt for the unsweetened version, which is both extremely refreshing and eye-wateringly pucker-y.
True to its street-food roots, all orders come served in hand-held cardboard cartons lined with red-and-white checkered paper to sop up the grease. Yet that’s one thing that Solo Tacos’ fare isn’t – greasy.
The nachos come crisp and hot, topped with generous dollops of their house-smashed guacamole, fresh pico de gallo that strikes a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity from the freshly-chopped onion and tomato, coupled with a herbaceous kick of cilantro. A helping of their house-made pinto beans stewed with olive oil and Omani sea salt rounds out the flavour profile along with an ooey-gooey onslaught of fresh mozzarella.
Up next are the tacos. As they’re brought to the table the waitress sets down a flotilla of hot sauces – all made in-house – that would make even the staunchest of spice-lovers flinch.
Figuring we’d best go for broke or not at all, we daub on lashings of their ‘Essa Demon’ sauce, a toe-curling five-alarm habanero alongside a splash of their sour cream-based ‘Blanco Misterio’ to quell the burn.
The hard taco-shell is a satisfying crunch-fest, if not a little messy to manoeuvre, and we both prefer the wrap-it-up ease of their chapati-like soft-shell tortilla – the perfect vehicle to get each bite from plate to mouth with little to no casualties of spillage.
The burritos are another winner that can hold their own in the flavour ring. Packed with the same fresh pico and guac coupled with juicy morsels of chicken; a bottom layer of lightly-fried tomato rice adds extra belly-filling oomph while fresh shredded purple cabbage offers an extra textural crunch. All tacos, burritos and bowls come with a choice selection that runs the gamut from chicken and beef, prawn and fish, to vegetarian options.
This is guilt-free comfort food at its finest as all ingredients taste wholesome and fresh, with minimal oil throughout. If you’ve not made it out to Qurum to dine in, they’ve also got a popular street-food cart at the Al Mouj Saturday
Market every weekend that you’d do well to line up early for.
As far as luchadorean tradition is concerned – when it comes to fiery flavour and grab-and-go ease, Solo Tacos punches well above its weight.
Mexican street-fare with a focus on freshness and simplicity of ingredients.
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