In my family, Sunday night is Dive Night. At my stepfather's insistence, we explore "dive" bars or restaurants so he has an excuse to eat queso and hamburgers and drink beer while my mother and I get picky with salads and nibble on fried pickles.
Whether Sol's is actually a dive is up for debate--as are all the places we go (except for the ones that only serve beer nuts or Chex Mix; no debate there). In truth, none of us actually knows what a "dive" really is. So in the interest of schooling us, my stepfather drove us past the Lakewood 1st & 10 and told us to go in. At this point, we'd already eaten, and dive bar drinking is not something I do with my parents. I hesitated.
"Go in," he repeated, ushering my mother and me out of the car. "It's a dive. See if they still have my hamburger there." Turns out, they do. It's an appalling 13 ounces of ground-up Texas meat.
"That," he said triumphantly when we got back to the car, "is a true dive."
"It has absolutely no redeeming features in the décor," my mother said, as if that sealed the place's fate. All it needed to be upscale, I guess, were a few Marilyn Monroe posters with fake signatures in red Sharpie.
"It should have surprisingly good food," my stepfather added. "It's gotta have kind of a--a--
Oh, wow. That's what I get for hanging out with baby boomers. Does anyone say 'scuzzy' anymore? Anyway, isn't that more of a word for how your teeth feel when you go camping for the weekend and forget your toothbrush than one you could use to describe a Dallas restaurant's clientele?
"Losers!" my stepdad chimed in. "Losers are comfortable there. Very comfortable. Like the Backyard BBQ. I was once a loser there..."
By these totally unofficial standards, Sol's is not a dive. They have décor--albeit mostly the kitschy kind--and it's definitely not full of losers. The people who eat there may be working class, but we're eating great food for reasonable prices, and that's not downmarket; it's just good business.
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Dive or not, Sol's is a great place for vegans and vegetarians. You can actually order cheese-free nachos (yes, we got a weird look, but they didn't complain), which are delicious: Each chip is spread with refried beans and topped with sautéed squash, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms and carrots, which is far more veggie variety than most places stock. They're served with guacamole, Sol's perfect salsa, pico de gallo, and according to our waitress, everything is fried or sautéed in canola oil, not lard. Beyond that, the menu is pretty extensive and very vegan-adaptable. There are vegetable or spinach enchiladas (you can get them without cheese, too), veggie fajitas, and veggie tacos served in whole wheat tortillas.
The chips are slightly oily, and the margaritas leave a little to be desired, but Sol's is great for three hugely important reasons: price, vegetarian opportunities (so many Mexican places have none), and their general willingness to accommodate dietary restrictions.
At last! I've found my Veggie Mex.
Sol's Taco Lounge / Sol's Nieto
2626 Commerce St. / 6434 E. Mockingbird Lane