Cristina Martinez of South Philly Barbacoa will preview her new Casa Mexico menu this week
The event, billed as taco placero, will feature sampling of the stewlike guisado-style tacos that will be a house specialty.
Chef Cristina Martinez, owner of the popular South Philly Barbacoa, will preview the menu from her new restaurant space in South Philadelphia from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.
The new space, three doors from South Philly Barbacoa, is the former Connie’s Ric Rac at 1132 S. Ninth St., next door to Casa Mexico, her comida corrida (”affordable food”) spot. It will offer dining and a bar later this spring.
The event, billed as taco placero, will feature a sampling of the stewlike guisado-style tacos that will be a house specialty. Martinez promises a rotating selection, including mixiotes de borrego, pescado pibil, longaniza en salsa verde con papas, mole rojo con pollo, and albóndigas de res con chipotle. Dishes served Friday will come with rice and beans and flan for $15.
Under a management agreement, the new space will operate with Connie’s liquor license. Until it is approved, the spot will be a BYOB. Martinez and her husband and business partner Ben Miller do not have a projected opening date, though they hope to open in time for the Italian Market Festival, May 21-22.
Meanwhile, Martinez is a finalist for the 2022 James Beard Foundation’s award for best chef, mid-Atlantic, a category in which she is competing against Jesse Ito (Royal Izakaya) and Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon (Kalaya). The ceremony will be June 13 in Chicago.
It’s been a long journey for Martinez and Miller since early 2014, when they started selling lamb tacos and chickpea-lamb consommé out of a cart parked on the sidewalk near their home at Eighth and Watkins Streets.
In 2015, they quit the cart and went the brick-and-mortar route with a location at 11th and Morris Streets (now Mike’s BBQ) before they relocated South Philly Barbacoa to its current location, at Ninth and Ellsworth Streets.
In late 2016, Martinez’s son, Isaías Berriozabal-Martinez, opened a restaurant across Ninth Street, specializing in tortas. He died unexpectedly several months later at 23. Martinez and Miller later operated a restaurant out of that space called El Compadre.
South Philly Barbacoa and Martinez have received lavish accolades and attention. Bon Appétit named South Philly Barbacoa one of the 10 best new restaurants of 2016.
Martinez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who is a champion of immigrant rights, told her story in the fifth season of the Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table and the Netflix series Ugly Delicious.