Saturday, December 9, 2023
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Restaurant group that owns El Torito and more to open corporatized taco joint in former Rock Bottom space


by Brian AddisonThe massive, Cypress-based restaurant group known as Xperience will be taking over the also massive space that used to occupy Rock Bottom at the northwest corner of Ocean Blvd. and Pine Ave. They will be introducing their Solita brand, which already has locations in Huntington Beach, Anaheim, and Valencia, in the hopes that the taco-centric space will be a welcomed addition to the Downtown.The announcement has its pluses and minuses: A place like Solita—likely to be millions in the build-out with a menu where tacos are served singularly in “large format” and cost up to $10 per taco—is perfect for the conventioneers, who will feel like they are getting a “California experience” with tacos and a massive tequila and mezcal selection. (The restaurant boasts of over 70 agave-based spirits.)Of course, the pejorative look is that it is corporatized food at its finest—again: likely to be millions in the build-out with a menu where tacos are served singularly in “large format” and cost up to $10 per taco.But who outside of corporatized food could maintain, afford, and run the ship that is the former Rock Bottom space?
The announcement of the Rock Bottom closure in May of 2020 marked the first major closure of a restaurant during the COVID pandemic, shuttering one of the city’s most prominent restaurants in Downtown, one that simultaneously caters to conventioneers and locals in the Landmark Square building—so the need to fill the space is important.That last point shouldn’t be argued.But we should continue to have a conversation about these massive food spaces—almost entirely unattainable to even the most successful of small business restaurateurs—affect the public perception of what food should be and what food is in Long Beach.And if a conventioneer happens to be reading this, might I suggest a little hike further north? Ammatoli, The Ordinarie, Lupe’s, The 4th Horseman, even 123 Pho await you. Go there and leave Solita to your boss and their crew.Solita is expected to open in Spring of 2022.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.


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