Alma del Mar, a restaurant designed by the ‘Queer Eye’ cast, is a family affair in the Italian Market
This is a second act for Marcos Tlacopilco, who opened Marcos Fish & Crab House 17 years ago on the same block, and his wife, community activist Alma Romero.
Season 5 of Queer Eye was shot in Philadelphia last summer, and now, a month after the Netflix series’ season premiere, we can experience some of the Fab Five’s creative handiwork in the flesh.
It’s the restaurant Alma del Mar, which opened last week at 1007 S. Ninth St. in the Italian Market, next to Esposito’s. This is a second act for Marcos Tlacopilco, who opened Marcos Fish & Crab House 17 years ago on the same block, one of the earlier Puebla-born merchants in the market. (It was the fun-loving Tlacopilco who dubbed the neighborhood “Puebladelphia” in critic Craig LaBan’s exhaustive roundup of Mexican restaurants in South Philadelphia.)
Tlacopilco and his wife, Alma Romero, a community leader and longtime worker with Puentes de Salud, which links the Latinx community with health-care resources, have enlisted help from the whole family, including daughters Jennifer, 20, Karen, 19, Alma, 13, and son Mickel, 7.
Queer Eye producers found Tlacopilco at random, says daughter Karen. (The words “Work hard in silence. Let success make the noise” are written on Alma del Mar’s facade. Apparently, this credo extends to the parents, who chose to let Karen speak about the project.)
The 50-seat dining room, closed now by city order, has a mural by Cesar Viveros and Melanie Nava featuring the Queer Eye stars topped with neon words reading “a todo lo que hagas pon le corazon” (“put your heart into everything you do”).
Right now, Alma del Mar is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for takeout and outdoor seating on a spacious, partly tented patio next door, as well as at some tables set up in front of Esposito’s.
The bruncherie-style menu, American with a hint of Mexican, includes familiar pancakes/waffles/French toast/Benedicts/eggs as well as salads, sandwiches (including burgers and an Italian pork), and soups, such as the crab and corn chowder featured on the show.
Pay attention to Marcos’ Crazy Mango Salad ($12.99), which has generous avocado, crabmeat, and mango chunks, as well as a tofu a la Mexicana ($10.99), which is a tofu scramble full of onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes with a side of refried pinto beans and avocado slices.