The Point Breeze Avenue of South Philadelphia has been busy celebrating the holy month of Ramadan. But this year is a bit extra special to the nearly 800 members of this close-knit Muslim community hub. After spending two years in isolation, it’s great to celebrate Ramadan again in public, by praying, fasting, and breaking bread, or in this case, eating tacos daily together during Iftar. Adding some more flavor to this traditional community practice, the South Philly Barbacoa came up with an Iftar meal gift for the whole community.
Owned and operated by Ben Miller and his wife chef Cristina Martinez, the South Philly Barbacoa is a Mexican restaurant, located one mile from the United Muslim Masjid at Point Breeze Avenue. This award-winning eatery is the quintessential institution of Philadelphia tacos. In 2019, the restaurant took a thoughtful decision to completely omit pork from its menu, making the joint more inclusive to the local Muslim community.
The Special Iftar Dinner
As a gift to the community, South Philly Barbacoa recently catered an Iftar dinner at the annex building of the mosque. After sundown, while the community headed up to the praying hall, Miller and Martinez decked the dinner tables and started prepping for the final touches with professional ease. By the time everyone returned from the prayer, the full menu was ready. After breaking the day’s fast by eating dates, as usual, all the members of the community quenched their thirst with bright orange cantaloupe juice and lamb barbacoa tacos. These house-specialty tacos were served on fresh corn tortillas and two unique salsas. The menu also included soul-soothing piping-hot chickpeas consommé, barbacoa, and delicious pancita, made from the chile-spiced grind of turkey meat stuffed in lamb tripe. A generous sprinkling of epazote added the finishing touch to the dishes.
The Secret Salsas
The famous tacos of South Philly Barbacoa became extra special by being doused in two Ramadan-special flavorful salsas. Salsa Taquera and Salsa Verde Cocida are the two secret sides that made the sumptuous Iftar meal all the more decadent. Salsa Taquera perfectly combines the sweetness of tomatoes with the tanginess of tomatillos, complemented by a mellow onion-garlic flavor. Soaked jalapenos and chiles de arbol tempers the piquancy of the salsa without dulling the flavor. The robust fresh green Salsa Verde Cocida packs a serious depth of flavor. With the piquancy of jalapenos and balanced tropical sweet notes of green ground cherries, this salsa is completed with subtly earthy and pleasantly bitter flavors of cilantro and epazote.