Ten years ago, when Anna and Christopher Woodall came to Arroyo Seco from San Francisco, they realized they had moved to more than one kind of desert. While Taos' high mountain desert is beautiful, living in a food desert, an area where it is challenging to find good-quality, fresh food, is less agreeable. With little fresh meat or produce available in the village, the couple was left longing for the healthy food they had enjoyed in California.
Luckily, the Woodalls were in a position to remedy that. Anna had learned how to provide her community with healthy, organic options while working at Whole Foods in California and brought that knowledge back to her husband's hometown of Arroyo Seco. And Christopher, trained in the Woodall Family Construction business, was able to provide the infrastructure, building nearly every shelf in the store with his own hands. On April 12, 2008, the two opened Sol Food Market, located where Hot Yoga Taos is today, and for the next two years began to supply their neighbors with organic, locally sourced groceries.
Soon, however, it became clear that they needed more space. Not only was business booming, but Sol Food had begun to build a reputation as a café as well, serving juices, coffee drinks and light fare. So Sol Food made the move to their current, larger location at 591 Hondo Seco Road, one building over from where they started.
Sol Food now offers a full-service café and deli, run by Anna Woodall's brother, Vlad Dodonov, who has been with the business since the beginning. Anna's father has joined in the family business, too, supplying his famous pesto for sandwiches, such as El Italiano, a delicious combination of ham, salami, basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella. The store also features a fully organic espresso bar and a fresh-pressed juice bar, offering everything from housemade vegetable juice to Matcha Madness smoothies.
If you have a sweet tooth, their housemade carrot cake is gaining well-deserved fame. And don't miss out on the award-winning baklava. "Whenever they have it, I have to get it," says El Prado resident Matt Rabanal. With its crispy layers of pastry and nuts, drizzled with local Taos honey, who could blame him?
Beyond the café, Sol Food still more than fulfills its original purpose. The Woodalls pursue the freshest local, organic produce and meats from operations, such as Cerro Vista Farms in Cerro, New Mexico and Salazar Meats out of Antonito, Colorado. They seek out producers who share their customers' hunger for non-GMO, antibiotic- and preservative-free foods.
The shop is also a showcase for local artists who produce creative, whimsical, and uplifting boutique items, such as cards, candles, perfumes and even flasks. Sol Food has our four-legged friends covered, with a supply of the highest quality dog and cat food (and treats). Perhaps the dog hanging out in front of the market is proof of the quality of the snacks; he doesn't live here, but shows up pretty much every day, hoping for a handout.
After recently celebrating their 10th anniversary in business, the Woodalls are looking to the future of Sol Food. They're taking initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of the market, making small but important changes, such as offering biodegradable straws and reusable bags to customers. They want to be at the forefront of changes they see as important for our town and for our world.
They've also recently acquired use of the space next door and plan to build a full kitchen there.