Business Profile —This Solvang restaurant offers a menu of wholesome dishes from around the world.
On a world map, Denmark and Mexico are thousands of miles apart. At Viking Garden Restaurant in Solvang, however, one is right next to the other. Flaeskesteg shares the menu with fajitas, medisterpolse meets enchiladas, and pickled herring sits on the table with chips and salsa.
And that’s just the beginning. The menu is a veritable United Nations with dishes such as Polish kielbasa, Swiss bratwurst, German knockwurst, Swedish meatballs, and spicy Sicilian sausage. And, of course, there’s all-American fare, including burgers, top sirloin, hot dogs, hot and cold sandwiches, and chicken-fried steak.
Viking Garden Restaurant also features the widest selection of beers in town, with 17 on tap. Among them are Carlsberg from Denmark, Stella from Belgium, Kronenbourg 1664 from France, Guinness Stout from Ireland, and from local breweries, Firestone Reserve and Firestone Double Barrel Ale, and Danish Red Lager from Figueroa Mountain Brewery. Also representing the United States are Samuel Adams, Fat Tire, Blue Moon, Pyramid Hefeweizen, Sierra Nevada, Budweiser, and Bud Light.
According to co-owner Oly Alvarez, the restaurant space where Viking Garden Restaurant is located has a long and storied history in Solvang. It is located in Jensen’s Copenhagen Square on Alisal Road, in one of the town’s first commercial buildings.
Now Viking Garden is part of a Latin company which is based in San Antonio, Texas, and owned by the three Alvarez brothers, who also have two other restaurants in San Antonio.
“We all started working as waiters and cooks in the late 1990s here at the Viking Garden,” says Oly Alvarez. “We always enjoyed working here and we fell in love with the business and dreamed of one day owning it.”
When they heard then-owner Jack Weston was selling the restaurant, they immediately showed an interest in buying the business, and a few months later the Viking Garden was owned by the Alvarez brothers.
“We kept all the original recipes from previous owners,” Oly notes. “For example, the frikadeller meatball, thin pancakes, sweet-and-sour red cabbage, potato pancakes, and aebleskivers are made with their recipes.”
Under the new owners, the restaurant’s decor has been considerably brightened, while retaining its Old World feel. The patio furniture has been freshly painted in a new color scheme, and indoor diners will appreciate the upgraded table setups. Those long familiar with the remarkable container garden that lines the bricked entryway will be happy to see that it is as spectacular as ever.
The restaurant has both an indoor dining room and an outdoor patio, as well as a catering service, and the brothers are just about to open a wine-tasting area that will feature local and imported wines. “The wines will be on the menu and also available for tasting,” Oly Alvarez said. “And with the new section we’ll be able to do private events.”
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
INFO: Viking Garden Restaurant is located at 446-C Alisal Road. 805.688.1250