Cristina Martinez‘s weekend barbacoa restaurant will close its colorful East Passyunk storefront at 13th and Morris Streets. June 25th will be its last weekend.
The freedom fighters at South Philly Barbacoa and PAUWR, Cristina Martinez and Benjamin Miller, are organizing Philly restaurants for a May 1st general strike that will highlight the contributions of undocumented immigrants in the restaurant industry.
The restaurant will be closed on May 1st as part of the planned #ADayWithoutImmigrants strike. And several of the city’s top restaurants have joined them.
South Philly Barbacoa has always been about more than just tacos. One of the most openly political restaurants in the city, owners Ben Miller and Christina Martinez have always used their food as a way to engage with the community and their community to try to affect change in the wider world.
So it’s really no surprise that they’ve begun using Monday nights as “teach-ins” at South Philly Barbacoa–bringing in a series of speakers for a program they’re calling “Justice and Agua Fresca”.
Han Dynasty’s Han Chiang is an immigrant. He hates Trump, too — even the mention of the president’s name could get you kicked out of his restaurant. He just wants everyone to get along.
South Philly Barbacoa’s Ben Miller and Cristina Martinez? They’re activists, mouthpieces for the city’s working immigrant community, the brains behind the Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers Rights.
And tomorrow, the three of them will be making dumplings together.
This story has been updated.
The almighty James Beard Awards Committee rarely ever left its comfort-zone when it came down to Philadelphia restaurants. Year after year, it was always Philly’s ultra-notable restaurants and chef names that made the cut — Zahav, Vedge, Vernick, Fork; Vetri, Starr, Solomonov — with the occasional nod to any Philly talent considered under-the-radar on the national scale, e.g. Joe Cicala, Konstantinos Pitsillides, Andre Chin and Amanda Eap (Artisan Boulanger Patissier). That’s not to say those big-name nominations weren’t deserved — they absolutely were — it’s just that there’s so much more to this city than Zahav and Marc Vetri. The rest of the country just isn’t aware.
But for whatever reason, this year, Philly-area chefs and restaurants, both big and small, caught the committee’s attention. Check out who’s repping Philly in 2017:
Look, there’s a long story to this and there’s a short one. A complicated one and a simple one.
The short, simple version is this: On March 15, Le Virtù is hosting a dinner to benefit PAUWR (Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers’ Rights), a group working toward gaining legal status for this group. Chef Joe Cicala and his sous chef, Poli Sanchez, will be working together to create a four-course “Sanctuary Supper” with a menu where each course includes both a Mexican and an Italian component. The dinner, including a wine pairing, starts at 6:30pm and will cost you $120 per person (not counting tax or tip), and all profits will go to PAUWR as part of a national fund-raising campaign to help them continue to fight in what is becoming an increasingly adversarial political environment.
You wanna help? Go eat dinner. That’s the simple version. But like so many things these days, the motivations behind it are complicated. Why Le Virtù is doing this dinner, how they got connected with PAUWR and why owner Francis Cratil Cretarola thinks that this kind of event at this time in history is so important? That’s the long story.
Maybe you’ve got the most incredible buffalo chicken dip recipe known to man, or maybe you enjoy grilling in the cold. Maybe you’re just some sort of crazed masochist who actually enjoys holing up in a kitchen while your friends and family have all of the fun without you. Sane people? They like to relax on Sundays — especially Super Bowl Sundays — and you can too if you let a bunch of these Philly pros do the work for you.
As part of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants coverage, the magazine produced a video on Cristina Martinez, the undocumented Mexican chef who runs the #6 restaurant on that list, South Philly Barbacoa. If you don’t know the story of Martinez and her husband Benjamin Miller it is a must-watch video.
And even if you do know the story, in this election year, it is a good reminder that immigration doesn’t just happen in a theoretical world, the struggles, successes and frustrations play out right here on the streets of Philadelphia and very often, in the kitchens of our favorite restaurants.
Watch the video »
Bon Appetit has announced its annual Hot 10 list of the best new restaurants in America and Philadelphia’s South Philly Barbacoa placed 6th on the list. Deputy editor Andrew Knowlton and senior editor Julia Kramer traveled more than 5,700 miles to more than 40 cities to create this list of the best new restaurants in the country.
Bon Appetit is back praising Philadelphia. A week after naming South Philly Barbacoa and Wm. Mulherin’s Sons among the 50 best new restaurants in the country, the magazine crowns Philly Style Bagels’ Classic Lox on a bagel as the best new sandwich in the country.
Editor Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer boast that whatever you put on this bagel, it will be “life-changing.”