When we returned to Vieques for a week's vacation in April, we expected to eat decent (if not great) food in Isabelle Segunda and Esperanza, the island's two major towns. But we didn't expect that our major food find -- and my hands-down favorite -- would be Sol Food, the island's only food truck. Sol Food is parked [well: it's on blocks, so it doesn't move] at Garcia Gate, the entrance to the Red/Blue/Orchid beaches on Route 997. Sol Food serves on Thursday through Sunday from 11:00-3:30, or whenever the fixins run out.
Fortunately, we discovered Sol Food early in our visit to Vieques, so we were able to have lunch there for three of our days on the island. While I can see that lunch at one of the bars along the Malecon in Esperanza may be appealing to those who insist on a drink with their lunch, you won't have better food there than you will at Sol Food. So may I suggest you bring some beer or tequila, which would pair nicely with Sol Food's tart limeade (though the limeaide is great on its own, too!) and sit under the tree, or on one of the beaches? And dig in to some delightful food.
Sol Food is run by two gringoes, chef Nicole Olivelli and Les Jones, who takes orders and serves. You might think that the casual surroundings -- a broken-down truck perched on cement blocks with some serviceable plastic chairs and tables for those who want to "dine in" -- would mean that the food isn't carefully prepared or the menu thoughtfully planned. And you'd be totally wrong. Our three lunches at Sol Food revealed that Nicole not only has a sly sense of humor in creating her menus, but demonstrates close attention to the preparation of her dishes.
The menu, which changes from time to time, includes sandwiches, empanadas, salads, and pichons -- skewers of marinated shrimp or chicken. There are vegetarian and vegan options, too.
One day, I had carnitas -- as good as any I've had from restaurants, stands or trucks in New York, Chicago's Pilsen [Mexican] neighborhood, or elsewhere -- stuffed into wonderful small tortillas (ditto). My wife's first shrimp pichon one day and it was a bit undercooked for her taste (but not for mine). But it was zesty and fresh. The next day, she asked for it more well done -- and it was perfect. The Caribbean Pulled Pork sandwich is served on a decent roll, which sopped up the tasty juices from the pork and the (fresh & crunchy) cabbage slaw slathered on top. For my third lunch, I ordered My Funky O, slices of marinated white-meat chicken, perfectly cooked, with lettuce, tomato, and a tasty aioli.
Be sure to try the limeade -- appropriately tart, not overly sweet, very refreshing.
You won't want to miss Sol Food's homemade hot sauce. It's made by Nicole and adds flavor to the taste, finishing with some (but not too much) heat. I begged a bottle of the Essence of Chernobyl to carry home in my luggage. I'd vote for a line of Sol Food hot sauces -- starting with this one.
All in all, it's hard to beat Sol Food: everything we had was exceptional, well-prepared, and reasonably priced. Great food, lovely people, fair prices.
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