In the spirit of freedom and summery excitement, we at the Clog took an impromptu trip to San Rafael to indulge in some authentic and delicious Puerto Rican food. Located at 901 Lincoln Ave. in San Rafael, the bright green exterior makes Sol Food impossible to miss. Even on a Tuesday, the lunchtime line wrapped around the corner of the building, showing how popular this joint truly is.
So we grabbed a couple menus and proceeded to spiral into a crisis over what to order while waiting in line. As soon as we caught a glimpse of the indoor decoration, we could feel the love and enthusiasm emanating from both the staff and the customers. Each wall was painted a different bright color and was covered in old photographs, plants and ceramic-ware. Customers sat at communal tables and engaged in lively conversation with both people they knew and didn’t know, while staff floated around helpfully.
In a surprisingly short time, we made it to the front of the line and ordered a Cubano sandwich, a pressed panini with mustard, mayo, ham, roasted pork and pickles, with fries and the Mixto plate of tostones and maduros. For drinks, we ordered the Ponche, a mix of their house limeade and mango iced tea and an iced caffe latte.
When we sat down, we noticed that there was a bottle of bright orange, house-made hot sauce and a bunch of green platanos on every table. At first, we were apprehensive about the fiery color of the hot sauce but quickly realized that everything on our plates tasted unbelievably amazing when completely doused in the stuff.
Our food came out in less than 10 minutes. Our famished, desperate souls thanked the food gods and Sol Food for being so quick to deliver us from our hunger. The Cubano was a dream, unearthing memories from last summer’s vacation in Puerto Rico. The ham had a lovely smoky, salty flavor. The roasted pork was soft, tender and juicy with just the right amount of salt and sweetness. After soaking the fries in hot sauce, we entered a separate realm of being wherein spicy, crunchy deliciousness surrounded us on all sides.
The Mixto plate had three tostones, which are crispy, fried green plantains and three maduros, which are soft-fried sweet plantains. The tostones were absolutely unbelievable with the house hot sauce and provided a non-greasy, salty crunch. The maduros were sweet, soft and caramelized — almost like dessert. They were so delicious that we forgot to take a picture before stuffing our faces.
The drinks we ordered were refreshing and sweet. The limeade in the Ponche complemented the mango so well and helped the mango flavor sing. We almost went through three giant jars of this unbelievably tasty take on an Arnold Palmer.
The food was flavorful, seasoned perfectly and authentically prepared. The drinks were delicious and refreshing, and the atmosphere was welcoming, friendly and celebratory. Every single person was having the time of their life. If you ever get the craving for hearty, comforting Puerto Rican food and can make it out to San Rafael, the Clog has to recommend Sol Food.