Bright yellow walls crawling with colorful metallic lizards, plates stacked high with red tomatoes, yellow tortilla chips, and crisp green lettuce: El Sol is a restaurant of color. The Point Richmond spot is one of the best places around for a quick bite to eat —if you know the right thing to order.
Eating at El Sol feels intimate and homey. Within the warm mango yellow walls of the restaurant are a handful of cozy wooden tables and chairs that could just as easily be in a family’s dining room. Paintings from local artists, metal animal sculptures, and brightly colored paper banners scattered across the walls finish the look. It’s well decorated without feeling stuffy. During the lunch hours, when the restaurant is busiest, patrons appear laid back and comfortable —like they’re dining in their own homes.
The restaurant itself is welcoming, but the menu takes a little more expertise to navigate to get a truly good meal from El Sol.
Be wary of the soft shell chicken tacos, one of the driest options on the menu. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes the meal so dry, but somewhere between the overcooked rice and the chewy chicken, the meal is in desperate need of salsa. When in doubt, go for whatever seems the juiciest, as the food at El Sol tends to be a little dry in general.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the prawn wet burrito. The huge meal comes out on a plate covered in sweet, cilantro-speckled sauce, and the burrito itself topped with more sauce, an inordinate amount of melted cheese and slices of avocado. Beyond the visual appeal of the color contrast provided by the fiery red sauce on the plate and the cool green avocado atop the burrito, the dish is irresistibly aromatic..
The meal doesn’t disappoint. Once you break through the tortilla, the sauce and cheese on top fill the inside of the burrito, erasing any possibility of an overly dry burrito. The prawns are well cooked and not overly fishy, making it a highly enjoyable meal all around.
The owner of El Sol, Josephine Orozco, is an astute business owner who has expanded the food of El Sol beyond its yellow walls and into the city through catering. For breakfast, Orozco supplies huge trays of Mexican pastries in addition to the standards of fresh fruit and yogurt.
Point Richmond’s El Sol is one of the most popular lunch spots in the neighborhood. While that might partly result from it being the only Mexican restaurant in the area, its corner on the market isn’t the only reason El Sol so successful.
What El Sol gets right, it really gets right —and the rest is better off avoided. While it might not be worth it for many to eat at a restaurant that’s so hit or miss, the food and the atmosphere make it worth a visit.
101 Park Place, Point Richmond
Monday - Saturday: 8:30 am - 8 pm
View their Yelp page here.