Sol Kitchen was one of Fort Wayne’s founding food trucks boasting an elevated version of Tex-Mex fare. Inspired by the Bravas hot dog stand, owner Jerry Perez knew that Fort Wayne was ready to embrace the mobile food concept and embarked on a menu including Latin inspired tacos and quesadillas.
Perez named his food truck after The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen”, where Jim Morrison crooned the lines “let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen”. Just as Morrison was a huge fan of soul food, Sol Kitchen soon had a just as devoted fan base including yours truly who would never be deterred by a long line at the food truck, knowing the deliciousness that awaited you. After five years of serving amazing food on the truck at venues all around Fort Wayne and even in Roanoke, Perez set his eyes on higher sites. A stand along brick and mortar restaurant so he could expand his menu and fan base.
Birdboy Brewing is a local brewery created by Ben Thompson who combined his love for planes and craft beer into brewing his own unique creations that can be found at over 60 high-end bars and restaurants such as Joseph Decuis. Birdboy was founded in 2015 and has a taproom located in Roanoke. With names like ‘Wit’s a Bird, Wits a Plane’ and ‘Redturn of the JedIPA’ you can see the creativity that goes into Birdboy’s European style beers.
Loyal fans of both Birdboy Brewing and Sol Kitchen were ecstatic to learn of their partnership in the form of Solbird Kitchen and Tap located at 1824 W. Dupont Road in Fort Wayne. Perez and Thompson have created a kitchen and tap concept that is destined for great success.
The Solbird menu boasts food of many cultures, not just traditional Mexican flare. Next to the shrimp ceviche (which was a perfectly portioned bite on crisp tortilla chips and served with fresh pico de gallo and avocado crema) were Korean pork sliders and further down on the menu was a Thai shrimp burrito. Utilizing fresh local ingredients, strong influence from his Mexican roots, and some Latin flare, Perez does not shy away from flavorful profiles, which takes the Solbird menu to a whole new level.
For the drink part of the equation, Birdboy Brewing has both flights and growlers available with everything ranging from a Belgian pale ale, a full-bodied Belgian Imperial Stout and, of course, a classic Oktoberfest. They also serve 22 ounce bombers with fun names like ‘Old Stolen Bicycle’ and ‘Canine Cosmonaut’. For those who prefer wine with their meal, the drink menu boasts wines from local Roanoke winery Two EE’s among its California, Spain, and Argentinian blends.
I was lucky to be invited to Solbird’s soft open and shared the Albóndigas Sopa with my friend Gina. Perez described it as a “Mexican Pho” and that description was spot on! It’s a tomato-based broth with beef meatballs, carrot, potato, avocado and is served with serrano, habanero, and cilantro on the side so you can flavor it as much as you would like. It seriously blew me away and not just because I dumped all the habanero in it!
The flavor profile was fantastic and it had the perfect level of heat. I asked my friend what she thought (half hoping she’d hate it so I could steal her portion), but she was as big a fan as I was.
“You never see albóndigas on the menu! You can tell this was made with love by people who know how to cook authentic dishes. He’s using Latin flavor to include a larger range of tastes. Smart!”.
Since neither of us was willing to relinquish our portion of the sopa, we also split the Korean pork sliders and the Chicken tinga tacos. Everything was so fresh, savory, and incredibly well priced. The tacos range from $8-$10, the appetizers from $5-$8 and the Quesadillas and burritos from $9-$10. The food comes pretty quickly, which is not a surprise given its start in a food truck where you are forced to move fast when you see your adoring fans waiting in Indiana weather.
My husband and I went back on opening day partly because it was freezing cold and I was craving the albóndigas sopa. I was worried that perhaps I had built up the sopa in my head, but it didn’t disappoint. In fact, by the time I was done eating it, my husband ordered his own since I only shared one spoonful of mine and another couple at the bar (who were probably tired of hearing me rave about it) tacked on an order of it to take home.
I should note that both my husband and the random person at the bar are not fans of cilantro, but the flavor of it complements the other ingredients in the sopa so well that you barely notice it, which is the sign of a perfect blend. I washed my sopa down with a craft beer from Birdboy called Old Crown, which is a delicious Coffee Porter made with a generous portion of local Old Crown coffee. If you are as obsessed with coffee and dark chocolate as much as I am, you will not be disappointed. Surprisingly, the brew was not too heavy as often porters can be, which made for a pleasant pairing with my Korean beef tacos and guacamole and chips.
Solbird Kitchen and Tap officially opened to the public on Saturday, November 10thand their hours are 11 AM to 10 PM Tuesday through Thursday, 11 AM to 11 PM on Saturday, and 11 AM to 8 PM on Sundays. It is considered a bar so you must be 21 to enter, but they will offer carryout so that all ages can experience the delicious menu. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with their collaboration.