I am very excited and have been eagerly waiting to publish this pairing for a very long time. Sol Agave is the first restaurant we introduced ourselves to over a year and a half ago when we had nothing more than a digital logo to our name and a vision of what Tacos and Cold Ones could be. Immediately, Jesse Galvez, one of the founders, loved our concept and invited Karla and me to collaborate on a pairing. The only problem was that we were a year and a half away from launching. At this point, it was just a handshake and a promise that we would one day feature them on T.A.C.O.’s. The timing seemed to be perfect because between then and now, Sol Agave has received multiple foodie awards, including best restaurant of 2018 by Orange Coast Magazine.
What I love most about Sol Agave is their story. They originally began in a 17ft food truck back in 2015 and established themselves as one of Orange County’s best restaurants with two locations and an award-winning menu. Goes to show how far vision and hard work can take you.
Speaking of award-winning, their featured taco on today’s pairing is the Pork Belly Taco, which is a creation from their Chef Oscar Perez, which won 1st place at the 2019 OC Taco Fest and 3rd place at Sobroso Fest, 2019.
They say we eat and drink with our eyes first, and that theory holds true in my opinion. The Pork Belly Taco is a true visual piece of art; I could just stare at it forever. It made me realize that I can’t have my taco and eat it too! Three street-style Pork Belly tacos are served on a wooden cutting board adorned to highlight this gourmet artwork. This taco isn’t a quick fix. Chef Oscar takes the meat through a multi-step cooking process to produce a tender, savory, and juicy, yet-charred pork belly. The pork is then placed on a soft handmade masa tortilla. The taco is adorned with fruits and veggies that produce a garnish that looks almost like a rainbow -- yellow pineapple, pink pickled onions, deep-red tomatoes, green cilantro, mint, a dash of white queso fresco, and drizzled with their in-house habanero sauce. If you’re not salivating already, you’re not human!
In collaboration with Lost Coast Brewing, Sol Agave produces three in-house beer styles. Each is made with agave to give it a unique flavor profile. Our beer of choice was the Sol Agave Blonde Ale. Sweet malt aroma, supported by tropical fruity notes, was at the forefront of the beer. A pearly white head adorned the light-amber-colored ale in a footed pilsner-style glass. A smooth and moderately carbonated beer greeted my lips and reminded me of the simple pleasantries of great craft beer.
The versatile, fruity Sol Agave Blonde is an enjoyable compliment to the fatty, yet succulent Pork Belly Taco, and bridges flavors attributes that bring another layer of complexity to the pairing. The malty sweetness of the blonde ale complimented the savory and tender caramelized pork skins, while cooling the capsaicin heat of the in-house habanero sauce. Notes of agave heightened the impact of the juicy pineapple chunks while delicate floral hop flavors harmonized beautifully with the mint and cilantro garnish. The acidity from the tomatoes and pickled red onions was abated by the residual sweetness in the beer allowing umami flavors from the tomato and sweetness of the red onions to resonate on the palate. As expected, the effervescence of the blonde ale washed away the lingering fattiness from the pork belly, and tender masa from the tortilla, leaving my mouth refreshed and in anticipation of the next bite.
Aside from their award-winning menu, Sol Agave provides a unique atmosphere of Latin music, a carefully curated drink menu, and an intimate ambiance that genuinely allows you to ‘Taste Mexico!’ Stop by their flagship location in San Juan Capistrano or their new location at the Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo to try a pairing for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.