Friday, December 2, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 40
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

New Solvang eatery combines Mexican cuisine favorites with 'deep cuts'

CALEB WISEBLOOD

Darting between two places of work on a golf cart has become a daily occurrence for one pair of local restaurateurs. Luckily for business partners Anthony Carron and Steven Fretz, their new Mexican restaurant, Campo del Sol, is located just a few blocks away from their steakhouse, Coast Range, in downtown Solvang.


COME TO PAPA
Pinches Papa’s flautas are served with chipotle salsa, guacamole, crema mexicana, lettuce, and cotija cheese at Campo del Sol, which opened in downtown Solvang in early September.
PHOTO BY CALEB WISEBLOOD

“We bought a golf cart and made it street legal,” which helps the duo split their time between the sibling eateries, Fretz said. 

“We just zoom back and forth.”

About a year after opening Coast Range, Fretz and Carron unveiled Campo del Sol in early September—only two weeks after getting the keys to the building, the former site of Solvang’s Succulent Cafe.

Let the sunshine in
Call (805) 702-3466 or visit campodelsol.restaurant for more info on Campo del Sol or to make a reservation at the new eatery, located at 1555 Mission Drive, Solvang. The restaurant celebrated its grand opening in early September. Regular hours are Thursday through Monday, from noon to 9 p.m.

“We knew this place was kind of for sale. So I called up the owners. They were ready to retire,” Carron said. “So we made them an offer, and we bought the place, and flipped it in two weeks. Literally, we got it Aug. 15 and we opened Sept. 1.”

No major renovations were needed to transform the cafe into the concept Carron and Fretz envisioned for Campo del Sol. Carron described the site as turnkey, but added that redesigning the location’s decor inspired him to take an impromptu trip down south.

“We painted. We bought new furniture. We put up new signs. I did a midnight run to Tijuana and bought all the decorations,” Carron said with a laugh. “Then we ordered some new china, and that was it. We didn’t do any massive construction or anything.”

Fretz said that most of the menu at Campo del Sol is reflective of Carron’s vision for the restaurant, which offers both contemporary and traditional Mexican food with an emphasis on locally sourced, fresh, and artisanal ingredients.


SEIZE THE SOUP OF THE DAY
One of co-owner Anthony Carron’s personal favorite entrees he was excited about bringing to Campo del Sol is carne en su jugo, a soupy dish of braised beef and bacon, with beans, radishes, cilantro, onions, and avocado.
PHOTO BY CALEB WISEBLOOD

“I attribute a lot of what this restaurant is to Anthony. He has a lot of family heritage from Mexico,” said Fretz, who first met Carron while both of them were working as chefs for the same company about 20 years ago. “He has his thumb on a lot of Mexican flavor profiles.”

One of Carron’s personal favorite entrees he was stoked about bringing to Campo del Sol is carne en su jugo, a recipe he learned from a close family member. It’s a soupy dish of braised beef and bacon, with beans, radishes, cilantro, and onions, Carron described.

“I learned it from my sister, who’s lived in Mexico for 20 years,” Carron said. “It’s a Mexican home cooking dish; it’s not something you really see in restaurants, so we’re excited to bring that here.


HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN
Campo del Sol co-owner Anthony Carron acquired some decorations for the interior of his new restaurant venture in downtown Solvang during “a midnight run to Tijuana.” The new eatery is located at the former site of the Succulent Cafe.
PHOTO BY CALEB WISEBLOOD

“We’re trying to bring things that are popular there [in Mexico] that you don’t see a lot here,” Carron added. “We have chips and salsa, and margaritas, and sizzling fajitas, but we also have some deeper cuts from more traditional Mexican dishes that you wouldn’t necessarily find at your run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex place.”

Aguachile de callitos—a ceviche dish with fresh, thinly sliced New Jersey scallops, along with cuts of avocado, cucumber, cilantro, serrano, and pickled red onion—is another of Carron’s personal favorites among the restaurant’s diverse selection of entrees and appetizers, which includes enchiladas, quesadillas, flautas, and much more.


CHEERS
Guests at Campo del Sol in downtown Solvang can enjoy margaritas at the bar, or at a table in the restaurant’s cantina setting. There’s also outdoor seating on a pet-friendly patio.
PHOTO BY CALEB WISEBLOOD

One of Fretz’s favorite contributions to the menu is a tribute to something he believes most chefs are afraid to admit they love.

“Chefs are all, in my opinion—well, I’m not going to hold every chef to this because they’ll lie to your face—but chefs in general, we grew up outlandishly poor being line cooks,” Fretz said. “So we became accustomed to eating fast food, because it was cheap; it would fill you up.”

Fretz’s remark was a preamble to his explanation of the only item listed on Campo del Sol’s menu within quotation marks, the “Mexican pizza,” an ode to the popular Taco Bell item that recently resurfaced at the chain, after a two-year discontinuation.

“I am probably the biggest Mexican pizza fan you’ll ever meet,” said Fretz, who befriended Rene Pisciotti, Taco Bell’s corporate chef, at an earlier point in his career. “They just got it [the Mexican pizza] back on the menu, and I’ve had two every day for the last four days.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood worked at a Taco Bell for four years and never got sick of the food. Send cinnamon twists to cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.










Weekly Poll
What do you think about a farmworker resource center in Santa Barbara County?

It's a great way to create a network of collaboration and reach people in need.
It's been needed in the county for a long time and should have been made earlier.
We don't have the funding now, but we should come up with ideas in the meantime.
We don't need it. There are plenty of resources readily available.

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