More than six years after closing its doors, Sol Y Luna rises again.
By Jan Walsh
Restaurants come and restaurants go. But most never make a comeback. Sol Y Luna is not most restaurants. The original Sol Y Luna was founded and literally crafted in 1998 by greatly beloved and forever missed, Guillermo Castro. And when it closed the doors in Lakeview in 2013, loyal patrons, such as myself, grieved its loss just as they had its owner, “Guermo.” Tonight, I am also honored to be at the first seating of service at the new Sol Y Luna in Mountain Brook Village’s Lane Parke… I feel his presence in this place.
Back in the day, I was in the restaurant and the kitchen with Castro often. We sipped tequilas at the small bar as he taught me about the plant of each, and even sent me home with his cherished book so that I could learn more. He grilled a vast variety of peppers on the patio for one of my chef cooking demos. And he personally served me his incredible Sunday brunch in the dining room. Back then, print was king, and I featured it all in local print publications. Later in 2007 when I launched BirminghamRestaurants.com, he ensured that Sol Y Luna was among its founding member restaurants. And in 2020 I am thrilled to have our newest member restaurant that was a founding member restaurant.
The new Sol Y Luna's concept and focus of “Tapas and Tequilas” remains the same as the original. It also boasts the Castro family’s authentic Mexican recipes, 30 premium tequilas, and margaritas like none other. And his brother, Jorge Castro and wife Aimee are here ensuring that the dream lives on.
The new Sol Y Luna boasts a tranquil patio, separate bar, and dining room lit by tiny, heavenly lights. Orignal art, crosses and images of the family adorn the walls, creating a pristine and peaceful ambience.
We order cocktails. Sweet for Kev, a Gin Colada. Spicy for me, Sol Y Luna Margarita. And we pair with orders of Queso Flameado (minus the chorizo for us on request) and Sol Y Luna Sampler. The flameado (flamed cheese) arrives bubbling in its own cast pot. Similar to a cheese fondue but much thicker and richer, we slather the gooey cheese onto the fresh, warm flour and corn tortillas. The cheese and bread meld together like a grilled cheese sandwich and their comforting goodness melt in the mouth. The cast pot is a nice touch, as it holds the heat keeping the cheese warm and melty until we devour it all. It is not only highly recommended but also made my 50 Favorites: All Time Favorites 2019-2020 at Birmingham Restaurants. The generous serving of guacamole and pico de gallo is served with three types of chips: tortilla, vinegar potato chips, and sweet potato chips. On first bite, I exclaim, “Oh, how I have missed this guacamole!” Kev typically does not eat guacamole but digs in and does not stop as we sample it with the variety of crisp, fresh, chips. He is also not a sweet potato fan but decides he likes those best of all. I am amazed he is eating guacamole and sweet potatoes. No one but the Castros could pull this off.
For entrees Kev opts for the Sábana Mexicana, and I have such a difficult time choosing. Crabmeat enchiladas and the red snapper al mojo de ajo are tempting, until I see Tomatillo Lobster Soft Taco and experience a lobster déjà vu moment of past Sol Y Luna. Kev’s tender, juicy thin slices of beef tenderloin arrive smothered in a marvelous, melted Chihuahau cheese and a scrumptious sundried chipotle chile tomato chutney that adds a touch of sweetness to the dish. And a side of the best ever refried beans and chips rounds out the plate. My two lobster tacos, which will prove to be another 50 Favorite, is served atop a bed of cream sauce with roasted yellow corn and bell peppers and topped with sweet potato chips. The knife and fork tacos are hearty, chock full of lobster meat, and are deeply layered in deliciousness. Highly recommended!
We did not save room for dessert, but next time we must try the Crepas de Cajeta.
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