Published in the June 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Deep Fried and Overstuffed: Puyero Reviewed
When you’re staring down the barrel of a pabellón arepa stuffed full of braised beef, black beans, and plantains like caramel, nothing else matters. You’re zoned in like you’re defusing a bomb because, from the looks of it, it’s all about to burst—the seams of the cornmeal bun holding it together, yes, but barely. And that’s how it should be. That’s how arepas often come: comically overstuffed.
And after you bite, you’ll understand why those three ingredients—those truly, undeniably Venezuelan flavors—are the trio they are. And you’ll wonder, too, why you haven’t enjoyed them together before. Sweet, savory and starchy, it’s a combination enhanced (to your discretion) by three squirt bottles available at every table: one with green mayo, another with spicy mayo, and a third with chipotle ketchup.
Puyero, Queen Village’s new Venezuelan street food spot, specializes in this wonderful creation and others like it. It’s a casual BYOB priced so you can become a regular, and it’s a grand introduction to an underrepresented cuisine in Philly. (Notwithstanding one or two restaurants and the occasional chalkboard special, Venezuelan food remains a bit of a mystery to many of our city’s diners.)
Puyero does it right, with cheery, no-frills fast food primped with good ingredients. That’s not to say it isn’t junky like fast food — much of it’s fried and drips with ketchup. But this is Philly, and junk food rules our land, so if we’re going to eat it anyway, it couldn’t hurt to diversify our assets.
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country