Café Sol is a place where you always get a wonderful breakfast and lunch — it never disappoints.

When we moved to the Grand Valley five years ago, Café Sol was at the top of our list of places to try.

The food sounded innovative but not trendy. That turned out to be true.

There is a large selection of salads, soups and sandwiches that offer something flavorful even for people with special dietary requirements.

Café Sol identifies dishes that are vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc. Limited ingredients does not mean limited taste. The food and atmosphere are so good that Café Sol, 420 Main St., is a downtown destination.

Owned by Nick and Avery Santos, Café Sol is a low-key gem using local and Colorado ingredients and providing dining in a casual, customer friendly environment.

Nick trained at the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary program in Rhode Island. He has been a chef at restaurants all over the country (and in Nicaragua) and even at a high-end French restaurant in Las Vegas that earned a Michelin star. He knows his stuff.

Ingredients are as local as possible, and the farms that supply the produce are posted right up front so there's no wondering where things came from.

For lunch, we always start with the Crispy Chickpeas. They are fried and dusted with Ras El Hanout, a Moroccan spice blend (Google it to learn more). This spice mix, like most of the spices used at Café Sol, comes from Willow Creek Herbs and Teas across the street.

The chickpeas are served with two house-made dipping sauces (a parsley cilantro ranch and a lemon herb vinaigrette). You will get spoons and toothpicks. Spearing the peas with the toothpicks makes this the ultimate "play with your food" dish. We can spend a long time eating this appetizer until greed makes us reach for the spoons to gobble it down.

The care put into this appetizer is carried through all of the dishes. At breakfast, the Veggie Hash has potatoes, butternut squash and black beans. It packs a flavor wallop and is served with avocado, eggs and corn tortillas. It is a favorite.

The "Café Sol Salad" is just one of the restaurant's many innovative salads. All dressings are house made, as is most everything in the restaurant. This salad has banana bread croutons to wake up the greens, beets, goat cheese, apples and fresh herbs.

Daily soups and daily specials are announced on Café Sol's Facebook page. Checking the page is a great way to tickle your appetite.

Three rotating daily soups are offered in the summer and four in the winter. There is something designed to appeal to everyone.

And don't forget the house-made desserts, many of which are gluten free.

A Grab and Go counter makes it easy to get soups, salads, wraps and desserts for those who don't have time to dine in.

Panini sandwiches offer a great variety of fillings including a Thanksgiving style sandwich called the Pink Pony. The chicken guacamole, club and Portobello sandwiches are very popular, too. All sandwiches also can be ordered as wraps.

There are a lot of personal touches that add to the enjoyment of Café Sol. For instance, the complimentary water comes in varieties: plain, citrus infused and something seasonal. Most recently we enjoyed a cranberry lemon infused water. Delicious.

Café Sol is environmentally conscientious. Napkins are cloth. Utensils are metal. Takeout packaging is compostable. The business recycles and composts and grows herbs.

In addition to restaurant service, Nick and the Café Sol team do an excellent job of catering. We have enjoyed their catering from casual events to sit down dinners. They offer outstanding food and we are always delighted to eat Nick's food wherever we can get it.

The Browns' curiosity streak runs broad and deep. So far it hasn't gotten them in too much trouble, and its rewards have been great. They are curious what interesting places you have found. Send your ideas to Their column appears the first Friday of every month.

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