A newer addition to Athens’ Court Street buggy scene, the artist formerly known as Chica Chica Chop Chop has taken things up a notch by transforming into a full-blown restaurant. Owners Todd and Tuti Wilson have kept a blog detailing the restaurant’s construction and beginnings, and it will soon be open to the townsfolk. The ambitious owners have even attracted the attention of Food Network, and the enterprising Cuban food establishment has opted for a new menu, new environment and an all-new bar concept, essentially remaking their product in the process. Ambitious, indeed.
Cuban food is an unusual niche. It’s got an interesting blend of Spanish, African and Caribbean styles into one style, with the spices and preparation a blending of the three. I’m fairly sure there are next to no other Cuban cuisine styles to be found in this part of the state, so establishing a business like this where there are so many few native eaters is ambitious, indeed. What Sol offers is Cuban food made approachable to College students. From that base, its foods are familiar but its ingredients might not be.
- Cuban sandwich: The meats are seasoned uniquely, I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. Indeed, there is a hint of Tex-Mex familiarity in the food, but it’s bold in a way that makes it completely new to the palette.
- Havana Eggs: Also known as huevos habaneros, this style of eggs is baked, not fried, and served over a bed of red pepper, onion and tomato sauteed in sherry sauce. Just a tad spicy! But good.
- Sol Burger: A local take on the “Cuban burger” this patty is made of Chorizo sausage, topped with onions and potato sticks and topped with ‘chimichurri sauce.’ Heavier on the bread and lighter on the meat than American burgers, this one packs a lot of flavors not normally seen in those burgers, too.
- Café con leche: Spanish for ‘coffee with milk,’ this drink is also called a ‘Cuban latte’ and it’s a combination of steamed milk and thick Cuban coffee. Wonderful!
As I said, the service is outstanding, and this place has the small business charm and great product to be a success. My only complaint is about the price. Some of the sandwiches are $6.00 and many of the items hover in the higher end of the lunch food spectrum. While I agree this stuff is harder to come by than the typical fare — and I certainly think it is worth the price — the simple fact is that this town has plenty of places to get the same or more food for less money. frugal college kids aren’t as prone to support a business with those prices for long. Still, I highly encourage you give Sol a try.
- Cuban food is its own type of meal entirely. Expect familiar dishes with unfamiliar flavors.
- Sol will open a full-service restaurant and bar very soon. I wish I could be in town to give you a taste for it, but it will likely have a different menu from the food cart.
- Things can get a little pricey, but the food is excellent.