Cafe Del Sol received a less than favourable review this past summer. What restaurant hasn't, particularly when said restaurant is the new kid in town. One cannot be all things to all people and carving out a respectable place in a large, urban centre is daunting even for the boldest of hearts. I heard little of Cafe Del Sol throughout the autumn and winter, and worried about their long-term persistence. What a welcome sight to heave open that strip-mall door and encounter the liveliest scene imaginable.
An appropriately sunny room is lovingly adorned with south-of-the-border paraphernalia that presents as cheerful, but never contrived. Attentive service begins with a bowl of gratis chips and bold tomato salsa. A quick read over the two-sided menu quickly leads to a steaming bowl of Sopa Azteca. Cilantro-scented broth is liberally tangled with crisp tortilla strips and tender chicken. The soup is bewitchingly aromatic and deceptively filling.
Tacos Pollo Tinga are a quartet of circular corn tortillas topped with chipotle-scented chicken, finely minced purple onions, and tangy cilantro greens. A squeeze of lime nudges out additional citrusy flavour that plays off the smoky chipotle in a symbiotic tango. I am less enamoured of the refried beans, which seem murky. A swig of Pacifico rounds out each bite and all is forgiven.
Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde is cloaked in a devilishly gooey blanket of melted cheese. The salsa verde is a bit lost under this stratum, but its less-assertive demeanor gradually makes itself known. It takes some excavating to find the chicken underneath, but each juicy piece is a more-than-welcome find. The surrounding aural blend of lively Spanish and boppin' Mexican pop music is dessert enough for the whole evening. Cafe Del Sol isn't the only place in the city where one may nosh on tacos and Pacifico, but the family living room vibe truly sets it apart. And that is a welcome niche in any city.