MOORHEAD — Perhaps it should come as no surprise to Nikki Berglund and Ryan Nitschke that their new restaurant, Sol Ave. Kitchen, is getting such a warm reception in North Moorhead (NoMo).
To secure the $100,000 necessary to renovate and furnish the restaurant at 1408 1st Ave. N., the partners launched a $75,000 Kickstarter campaign in December. A total of 213 backers came through, pledging $75,556 to bring the restaurant here.
The backers were the first to get a peek at Sol Ave. Kitchen during a series of soft-opening events before the restaurant opened to the public Aug. 23.
"Moorhead has been super supportive of us," Berglund said.
"We really want to thank everyone. It's been awesome," Nitschke added.
Some of their best customers are employees of Junkyard Brewing Company.
Taproom Manager Allison Slavik was already a fan of their first restaurant, Luna Fargo, in south Fargo, so she was over the moon when Sol Ave. Kitchen opened next door. Her favorite dish is the pork and mushroom dumplings with kimchi.
"The menu is fantastic. I think it's got a really nice eclectic mix that a lot of people can enjoy," Slavik said. "It seems to be a really good fit for our environment and what our customers like to eat, too. We used to have food trucks here quite a bit in the past, so it's kind of nice the menu next door is very street-food inspired. We get a really good mix of options."
The menu features "street food with a flair," Nitschke said.
Tacos are one of their best sellers thus far. The menu includes five unique tacos with the choice of corn or flour tortilla:
- Chimichurri Beef Steak, queso fresco, pickled veggies.
- Tamarind Pork Belly, corn salsa, chili crema, cilantro.
- Wild Mushroom, queso fresco, cucumber pico, chili crema, cilantro.
- Crispy Chicken, pickles, avocado crema, cilantro, jalapeno.
- Shrimp al Pastor, pineapple salsa, adobo sofrito, cilantro
"Everybody loves tacos. We like to give them their own identity and flavor," Nitschke said. "And our Cubano sandwich is really good. I've had people come up and tell me it's the best Cuban sandwich they've ever had."
Diners can eat in at Sol Ave. Kitchen or next door at Junkyard Brewing.
Berglund, who is also proprietor and wine manager of Bernie's Wines and Liquors in Fargo, put a lot of thought into the beverage side of things.
Sol Ave. Kitchen has what Berglund believes is the area's first all-natural wine list. A wine is considered natural if it's made without adding or removing anything in the wine-making process, such as through filtering or adding acid, sugar or other components.
"Natural wines are trendier in larger markets," she said. "You don't see a lot of them in North Dakota."
While they enjoy a great relationship with Junkyard, Nitschke said it's important they develop their own beverage program identity as well.
"Along with natural wines, we have these ciders from Milk & Honey Ciders right now and hope to get more from other places. We just got some beer from Drastic Measures out of Wadena (Minn.). No other restaurants in the area are serving it," he said.
That's something that appeals to Nitschke.
"I think as a whole — Luna and here — the goal is to provide a unique experience," he said.
Nitschke said neither restaurant would be possible without their awesome staff, including Chef Shea Syverson.
"We're not living here," he said. "I'm still going back to spend most of my time at Luna, so it's important we have a strong chef here."
Hiring Syverson, who previously worked at Luna and a number of restaurants in Minneapolis, was "one of the reasons we knew we could do it," Berglund said.
The business partners aren't ruling out additional restaurants in the future.
"We have a lot of ideas," Nitschke said.
"We'll probably take a rest for a little while," Berglund added.
What: Sol Ave. Kitchen
Where: 1408 1st Ave. N., Moorhead
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday