Puyero Venezuelan Flavor
524 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19147
Ideal for: Family Gathering, Outing with Friends.
When I first move to Philadelphia, I couldn’t find a place that would sell Venezuelan food. Somehow, I survived a few years with barely any food that’s typical from my country with the exemption of my attempts of making homemade arepas. Although they were quite delicious, they didn’t taste like the ones made from a real Budare (smooth, flat iron griddle to cook arepas. Commonly known as the restaurants where they serve arepas in Venezuela). I was living in a sad, arepa-less world, until my brother told me that a new Venezuelan place open its doors here in Philadelphia.
Puyero (Venezuelan slang for a lot) is a small Venezuelan restaurant in Queen’s Village. As soon as you walk into the place, you can feel the Venezuelan vibe. The music blasting is in Spanish, and it varies from classics like Alma Llanera and Venezuela to some regetton and merengue. The walls are decorated with Venezuelan sayings and drawings that go with them. My favorite on that wall is barriga llena, corazón contento (full belly, happy heart). The wall is so full of color and life that it perfectly represents the country’s beauty, as well as its colorful people.
The restaurant is is very casual. You order your food first, and then sit down. The menus are displayed on a wall, and each of them has a different color, adding more live this already vibrant place.
Now to the food. I can assure you that this is the real deal, the food here is so authentic that I actually cried the first time I ate here. Picking only one item from the menu is impossible, so make sure to go with friends so you can steal some bites from their plates.
My go-to is always tequeños (white cheese wrapped in dough) with a side of ketchup to deep them in. Now, this is a controversy back in Venezuela, because normally people from Caracas (the capital and where I am from) don’t deep their tequeños in ketchup. This is something people from Maracaibo, the city closest to Colombia, do. We got mandocas as well, a sweet arepa that comes with nata (cream) and cheese.
Because tequeños and mandocas are meant to be a side, I ordered a patacón con queso (fried plantain with cheese), an arepa with cheese, and my favorite Venezuelan soda: Colita. Colita is an extremely sweet soda from Venezuela that taste like tutti fruity, vanilla and gum, and yet I love it. When I was six years old, both my brothers taught me to mix Colita with Coke-Cola, and my life was forever changed. The mix of these two together is called ligadito, and it is my favorite drink whenever I go to a Venezuelan restaurant. Sadly, they don’t offer Toddy (Venezuelan chocolate milk), but they do have chicha (sweet rice drink) and papelón con limón (sugar cane drink with lemon). I was never a fan of papelón con limón, but I do love a good chicha. This one is very thick, it is almost a pudding consistency. They mix the chicha with cinnamon for an extra kick of flavors.
We ordered some patacon pisao (fried plantain) with veggies and a cachapa. The cachapa was delicious, although I am disappointed that the cheese was not melted and it was in fact cold. I like it when they put the cheese inside the cachapa while it is cooking so it warms up a little. The patacon pisao, on the other hand, was everything I dreamed of it being. I never say no to patacones, and the fact that this one came with black beans, mozzarella and green sauce made my stomach extremely happy.
We finished our night with a marquesa (cake made with chocolate cream and the Venezuelan version of graham crackers) and hot chocolate from Los Andes, a region in Venezuela. I absolutely love marquesas, and this one was perfection. Last time they only had them made with Oreo, and I personally felt that too much was going on. I asked them if they had the marquesa with galleta maria (Venezuelan graham cracker) and thankfully they said yes.
Jewtina Tips: Don’t be afraid to order several things from the menu. Most of the items are meant to be shared!
Teenu- Disfruta- Enjoy!