SolRad joins Montebello’s buzzy shipping container food court BLVD MRKT with burgers and breakfast burritos getting the Chicano treatment from a local chef. SolRad comes from Teo Montoya, his wife Mel, and Justin Graham, who’s also the GM at Death & Co. in Arts District.
The Montoyas started popping up in 2017 at Whittier businesses like Local Fixture Coffee & Tea. They stayed mostly around Whittier and Montebello while testing dishes like avocado toast, breakfast burritos, and burgers. Teo Montoya spent time prepping food at Smorgasburg, doing private dinners, and hosting pop-ups before meeting BLVD MRKT founder Barney Santos. Eventually, Santos tapped the Montoyas to take over the recently shuttered Nola Cajun and Creole space at 520 Whittier Boulevard in Montebello.
“I’m Chicano and grew up eating Mexican food [at home], then we get in our cars and cruise the Boulevard to a hamburger stand like the Hat to grab a burger and some fries,” says Teo. “SolRad is a little bit of both worlds. Not solely American, not solely Mexican, but California.”
Montoya’s background, love for LA culture, and local fast-food are on full display at SolRad. He utilizes local vendors wherever possible including a mango-chile lime soda from maker Besito, and sources eggs from a farmer in Riverside County. The latter goes directly into SolRad’s breakfast burritos, which Montoya describes as a hybrid between an LA taco stand breakfast burrito (typically with beans), and one from an LA burger stand (usually without beans but with potatoes). SolRad breakfast burritos combine beans and potatoes along with fillings like carne asada or soyrizo for the plant-based crowd.
As for the burgers, SolRad’s got the smashed variety and a patty melt with Tecate-braised onions. There’s also the quesaburger with griddled onions, griddled queso, pickled jalapeno, and SolRad’s house sauce. Diners can add bacon, an additional patty, or substitute one for Impossible Meat. There’s a single fresh item on the menu, a wedge salad full of bacon crumbles, crispy garlic, chives, cherry tomatoes, and jalapeno ranch. Two sides are beer-battered pasilla pepper chile rings, and cylindrical, deep-fried mojos inspired by Shakey’s Pizza that’s served with spicy ketchup.
Montoya worked at various LA restaurants throughout the years, including Alvin Cailan’s Eggslut while it was still a food truck. Montoya also collaborated in February with Nicole Rucker’s Fat & Flour for a barbacoa pot pie.
Montoya describes SolRad as “California sol cooking,” a nod to soul along with the word “sol” which means sun in Spanish. “We take a lot of pride in California, the melting pot of all these different cultures represented here in LA. I grew up in these kitchens, so [SolRad] is a combination of my experiences. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here. I’m just trying to further the story that’s been going on all these years in the neighborhood I know.”
Currently, SolRad operates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday for burgers, with breakfast burritos served on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’s community outdoor seating for all BLVD MRKT restaurants. Check back to SolRad’s Instagram after March 31 to see permanent hours.