Barbacoa South Philly getting off the street
Saturday, June 20 will be the last barbacoa day at Eighth and Watkins Streets.
For the last year and a half, the husband-wife team Ben Miller and Cristina Martinez have run a weekend-only food cart outside of their South Philadelphia home. Their specialty is barbacoa, specifically the lamb and pancito tacos of Martinez's native Mexico, which The Inquirer's Craig LaBan listed among his favorite dishes of 2014.
They open at 6 a.m. and sell until the cart is empty.
Miller and Martinez lately ran afoul of city authorities, who they think were tipped off by a cranky neighbor. A few weeks ago, the cart - which had been parked on the street - was towed and impounded. Miller went back to the city and bought a $300 license to allow them to park and vend on the sidewalk.
But then, they took stock of their situation. Did they want more hassles or what Miller calls "a push to get bigger"?
And with that, Saturday, June 20 will be the last barbacoa day at Eighth and Watkins Streets.
Miller and Martinez have the keys to a restaurant space about three blocks away, at 1703 S. 11th St., just off 11th and Morris Streets. Its last occupant was Vegan Commissary, which is now working the wholesale end of the food trade and does not need a dining room.
(Yes, vegan to barbacoa is a long route.)
They have not settled on a name, but hope to be open in early July with a similar menu, a couple dozen seats (no more camping out on the couple's steps to scarf down tacos), and room to grow.