Petaluma’s newest restaurant, an offshoot of the insanely popular Puerto Rican eatery Sol Food in San Rafael, is open. But hold your frijoles and manage your expectations, because it has a limited takeout-only menu rather than the full lineup of the original.
We’re not complaining though, because Sol Food’s pink frijoles, which you can get at the Petaluma location, are manna from heaven. But crave-worthy dishes like Pollo al Horno (chicken thighs); Camarones Empanizados (breaded fried prawns and plantains); and a much-loved Cubano sandwich with roast pork, ham, pickles and Swiss aren’t representative, in takeout form, of the exceptional, line-around-the-block cuisine Sol Food is known for. Think of the Petaluma spot as a sneak preview rather than a full opening.
Locals have been buzzing for more than a year about Sol Food taking over the cavernous former Sauced BBQ spot in Petaluma’s Theater District. We’re told that many Sonoma County residents have stopped at the San Rafael restaurant post-hike or post-bike ride, so it made sense for co-owners Marisol Hernandez and her husband, Victor Cielo, to head north for their third location (there’s another Sol Food in Mill Valley).
On our first visit to the Petaluma spot, we spied more than a dozen white-jacketed cooks learning the ropes in the revamped kitchen. Takeout orders were coming fast and furious, with heaping bags of food on every counter. Service was efficient and friendly, but more cooks and waitstaff are needed before the restaurant can open for dining in with a full menu.
At this point, you’ll have to wait a bit for espresso drinks (like our favorite coconut latte with sweet coconut cream), daily specials or rotisserie chicken. The full menu at the San Rafael location includes dishes like Coconut Milk French Toast, Arroz con Picadillo (ground beef with seasoned rice), coconut stew with shrimp, Mofongo (Creole prawns with garlic and tomato) and many other sandwiches, salads and soups.
If you go, we recommend the Pollo al Horno, Maduros (sweet fried yellow plantains), Cubano sandwich and Tembleque, a creamy coconut pudding with mango sauce. Don’t forget a bottle of pique (spicy vinegar) sauce to pour on … everything. Details and ordering info at solfoodpickup.com or delivery though solfoodrestaurant.com.
Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at 151 Petaluma Blvd S., Suite 129, but hours may vary. 707-347-5998.