You may have noticed that Pope Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, was in town this past weekend. The Pope honored Philadelphia’s history at Independence Mall, and through Reserve, you can similarly celebrate the Pope’s roots by trying these delicious Latin American influenced dishes served up at some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants.
AMADA (OLD CITY)
At Amada — the first restaurant from award-winning Chef Jose Garces — Chef de Cuisine Austin Schafer offers a contemporary take on traditional Spanish tapas, including dishes with Latin flair like Pernil Asado. The dish, popular in Latin American countries, consists of roasted pork, white beans, arugula and orange. The warm, rustic-chic eatery is outfitted with inviting and industrial accents, and it offers an extensive Spanish wine list and weekend brunch menu.
ALLA SPINA (FAIRMOUNT)
Though Alla Spina is an Italian gastropub, the pork-focused menu utilizes many ingredients native to South America. Using foods traditional to South America, small plate offerings at the restaurant include crispy pig head nachos, a watermelon and watercress salad with avocado crema and fried quinoa, and beer battered fish tacos. The expansive beverage program includes hard-to-find, seasonal craft brews, along with bottles of reds, whites and sparklings. Located inside an old car dealership, the industrial-style space has a vibrant dining room adorned with graffitied walls making it a unique eatery.
DISTRITO (UNIVERSITY CITY)
Distrito serves up a menu of modern Latin American-influenced small plates and diverse Mexican street foods conceived of by Chef de Cuisine Maria Schmidt in collaboration with award-winning Chef Jose Garces. Of note is its tortilla soup cooked with chicken, tomatoes, pasilla chile broth, queso fresco and avocado. Stocked with more than 100 tequilas, the full bar also boasts notable margaritas and a wine list of Latin American emphasis. With pink walls, a secret karaoke room, swiveling booths, swinging seats and a four-seat dine-in taxi, the lively bi-level setting is a unique and ideal space in which to enjoy the vibrant fare.
LO SPIEDO (NAVY YARD)
Though Lo Spiedo is a casual, industrial-chic eatery serving adventurous Italian fare, the meat-focused menu features beef brisket and strip loin, dishes popular in Argentina, Pope Francis’ birthplace, as well as fish options like spit-roasted octopus. Located inside a former military base gatehouse and featuring a spacious patio area, the restaurant boasts a custom-made 6-foot rotisserie from which award-winning chefs Marc Vetri, Jeff Michaud and Brad Spence churn out an array of slow-roasted meats. The fare is complemented by the beverage program, which includes creative cocktails and a frequently changing wine list.
Lisa Ganz, Reserve Philadelphia