Since 2008, Anna Woodall and Chris Woodall have owned and operated Sol Food in the village of Arroyo Seco. Pioneers a bit ahead of their time, when they opened their organic foods store and restaurant it included the area’s first place to purchase prepared foods.
“Back then, this area was a food desert,” noted Anna.
The best food in Taos is in Arroyo Seco
When asked to comment on the decision to open Sol Food in the quaint village where he was raised, Chris explained, “we wanted to do something good for the community. We were eating organic foods in California and other places and we wanted to be able to do the same thing here.”
Originally from Northern California’s Bay Area, Anna grew up eating clean, organic foods. The couple’s intention that Sol Food be as sustainable as possible without a heavy reliance on large food distributors comes through in their food. Sol Food has the reputation for the best produce in Taos – and the best food.
The pandemic has had an interesting effect on how consumers eat and where they source foods.
“There is an organic boom happening right now and farmers are popping up everywhere, which is great to see,” explained Anna.
It certainly makes it easier for Sol Food’s farm-to-table concept when there are more local farmers to buy from and support. Sol Food’s restaurant menu is filled with breakfast and lunch options made with many ingredients grown nearly a stone’s throw away.
“We serve as much local produce as we can. It’s on our menu and in the store,” noted Anna.
Like most stores and restaurants, Sol Food was hit with a myriad of challenges at the beginning of the pandemic.
What may seem like a small-on-the-surface operation includes more than 20 employees – most of them full time.
The decision was made to close the restaurant and keep the store open.
“We gave our employees the choice to work if they wanted and we took this time to re-invent ourselves. We cleaned, remodeled, re-shelved, and increased our store space by 40 percent,” explained Anna.
The saying goes, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Turns out, they will come for a remodel too. During the height of the shutdown, Sol Food prepared popular meals including Indian curries and pad thai for customer’s tired of cooking at home.
“The meals sold out before they even made it to the fridge,” added Anna.
Even though the restaurant is fully open and operational, they are continuing to sell the popular prepared meals for customers to take home.
Art and music add to the vibe
Sol Food operates with a sustainable, co-op mindset and that doesn’t stop with the meals and provisions. The couple hosts an on-going “art show” every three to four months featuring artwork from a local artist.
Currently, Seco’s Stefan Elliott has a variety of paintings on display. The artwork adds a local flare to the restaurant’s décor and every piece is for sale.
After Elliott’s work has been displayed for a few months, Sol Food will host another artist.
The same goes for the outdoor vibe. With a newly opened stage and a pet-friendly patio, locals and tourists can gather every weekend for live music between 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Electric folk musician Jess Wayne plays every Saturday throughout the summer and the lively Pot Creek String Trio will be on stage every Sunday in July.
Sustainable, back-to-the-earth, farm-to-table ethos
Taos has become recognized for healthy eateries with sustainable, farm-to-table methodologies and the likely catalyst for that started with Anna and Chris’s dream to enhance their community with sustainable foods.
The couple knows the majority of their customers by name and it is those relationships that have sustained Sol Food and their employees during the pandemic.
“Without the support of our community, we would not be here. We are so appreciative of our community,” concluded Chris.