I meet my dear friend Stella at Cantina Del Sol, Mexican-American Comfort Food located at 1175 Solano Ave. in Albany. According to their website they are open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and offer a weekend brunch menu, Margarita Monday, Taco Tuesday and Thirsty Thursdays with vegetarian options and desserts .
“Our food is prepared with locally-sourced and authentic Mexican ingredients and made in our kitchen. From the horchata to our own salsa verde, Sol Sauce, we make all of your favorites right here!” states their website.
With my locally craft beer, Fieldworks IPA and Stella’s Mezcal we were served chili lime seasoned dried chickpeas. Fieldwork Brewing Company is a craft brewery founded in Berkeley, They have a large selection of Tequila and Mezcal. Stella’s Mezcal was served in a little gourd cup that sat on a raffia ring. The chickpeas came in a beautiful rustic handmade Mexican bowl. We were ready to catch up with each other before ordering our food.
Stella grew up in the food business. She starting out busing tables then became a 3rd generation waitress. She’s continued to move through the rank from bar manager to event coordinator. She knows what to order at the eateries throughout the East Bay. We agreed to try multiple dishes starting with a Poblano Caesar Salad that included romaine hearts (pre-recall), ancho chili croutons, cotija cheese, house made Poblano Caeser dressing. The lettuce was crispy, but wet so the dressing was watered down. I didn’t taste any ancho chili flavoring, but the croutons were crispy and not oily. Roasted Poblanos will be added to my next taco night dinner salad.
We ordered a Chile Relleno which is an egg battered poblano peppers stuffed with panela cheese with ranchera salsa. The filling was melted to a creamy consistency. The ranchero sauce, while very flavorful and the right amount of spicy for me, there was way too much sauce for the relleno. We still ate every bite!
My favorite was the Charro Beans are pinto beans with bacon and chorizo. How could you go wrong? They were just delicious! Whole pinto beans are my favorite bean and I like it when a restaurant adds a little something to them. Sometimes for taco night, I will add a little cumin or I’ll add some salsa or green chiles.
The Carne Asada Tacos are filled with diced beef and onion with cilantro. They are served on a soft corn tortilla. I added lime and then ignored my taco to eat the Chile Rellono and salad, so my tortilla got soggy and fell apart. Their tacos aren’t the small street tacos so, you only get one tortilla. Octavio, our serve got me another one and then I got to enjoyed the taco. The fresh onions, cilantro and squeeze of lime were the perfect compliment to the beautifully charred beef.
I didn’t have any trouble finding a parking space at the end of the block. We were there at about 6pm and it was pretty quiet. The restaurant is brightly decorated with a large sun mural on one wall. We enjoyed catching up with each other, but we didn’t have room for dessert!