The new year is starting off with some tough restaurant news. Several beloved restaurants have announced shutdowns in the past few days, including acclaimed Somali restaurant Tawakal Halal Cafe in East Boston and Southern-rooted breakfast and lunch spot Soleil in Roxbury.
Tawakal — whose chef and owner Yahya Noor was a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast in 2023 — announced on social media that the East Boston spot would be closing down on Friday, January 5, after five years of operation in its current location.
“Back in 2018, we started this journey with a simple wish: to share our mothers’ cooking and the flavors of our Somali heritage with you, our cherished friends who became like family,” the announcement reads. “We wanted to bring the tastes and scents from our upbringing to more people, not knowing the challenges that came with running a business. But through it all, our love for sharing our culture through food never wavered.”
The team is hoping to relocate the restaurant in the future, and they’ll still be selling their sought-after sambusas and flaky chapati with hummus during weekday lunch hours at Tawakal’s satellite location at MIT’s student center. On Saturday, January 6, the East Boston restaurant will host a farewell gathering at 11 a.m. to “celebrate the ties we’ve formed, the stories we’ve shared, and hold onto hope for the day our paths cross again,” according to the announcement.
In Roxbury’s Nubian Square, Soleil has also shut down after five years, according to an announcement on the restaurant’s website. Chef and owner Cheryl Straughter is behind the neighborhood go-to, which is known for its excellent fried chicken, Louisiana po’ boys, and other Southern-inflected fare. Straughter’s outpost of Soleil at the Boston Public Market, which launched last spring, has also closed down.
The restaurants are the latest in a string of prominent spots that announced shutdowns at the end of the year. Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, a restaurant and live music mainstay on the border of Roxbury and the South End, closed down after December 31 for an extensive renovation and rebranding with no return date yet announced. Cobble, a tiny, perpetually booked-up spot in Brookline, also closed down to take a gap year in 2024 to “explore new opportunities for Cobble and the future of what it means to dine out,” according to a note on the restaurant’s website. In the meantime, owners Rachel Trudel and Emily Vena are keeping open Barlette, their quirky, BYOB cocktail bar located downstairs from the restaurant.
Update: January 3, 2024, 11:23 a.m.: This article was updated to include additional information about Soleil’s Boston Public Market outpost.