The peripatetic taqueria known as South Philly Barbacoa is back, in a new location in a former pizzeria at the corner of Ninth and Ellsworth Streets in the Italian Market.
It’s a few doors down from El Compadre, a modest Mexican eatery also operated by chef Cristina Martinez and her husband and business partner, Ben Miller.
Martinez and Miller founded South Philly Barbacoa in early 2014, selling lamb tacos and chickpea-lamb consomme out of a cart parked on the sidewalk at Eighth and Watkins Streets.
In 2015, they quit the cart and went the brick-and-mortar route with a location on 11th Street near Morris.
Bon Appetit named South Philly Barbacoa as one of the 10 best new restaurants of 2016, and last year, the couple was a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for best chef, Mid-Atlantic.
In October 2016, Martinez helped her son, Isaias Berriozabal-Martinez, open El Compadre, a shop specializing in tortas, at 1149 S. Ninth St. Less than three months later, he collapsed and died at age 23. Martinez and Miller took over El Compadre and closed South Philly Barbacoa. (That location on 11th Street is now Mike’s BBQ.)
The menu at South Philly Barbacoa (1140 S. Ninth St.) includes barbacoa, pancita, and veggie tacos, quesadillas with house-made cheese, sweet tamales, consomme, pastries, and coffee, orange juice, and aquas frescas. Hours start at 5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 7 a.m. Monday; they close when they sell out of food — typically no earlier than 1 p.m.
Atmosphere is nothing fancy; there’s seating in two rooms for about 60 people.
El Compadre, which sells tortas and guisados at 1149 S. Ninth St., is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Martinez makes it no secret that she is an undocumented immigrant. Martinez and Miller have turned the grand opening into a fundraiser for Mike Doyle, who is running for Pennsylvania’s 170th House District in Northeast Philadelphia against the incumbent, Martina White. Joining Doyle will be Carolina Torres, a local immigrants’ rights advocate. It starts at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13.