If one chooses to know of Frida Kahlo as only a painter, that person will surely be able to craft a solid yet not altogether enriching sense of her legacy. Raul Castro has elected not to minimize the fellow Mexican, noting that research on her led him to dub the artist “a fighter.” Her tenacity and connection to his family, notably Raul Jr., inspired the 43-year-old to christen his eatery Frida Cantina.
“She is obviously a huge presence in Mexican culture, so I wanted this site to pay tribute to her,” the proprietor said of his three-week-old venture, which features many pieces by the art titan.
Kahlo fans know that a bus accident at age 18 significantly altered her life, and the Castros, residents of the 1100 block of Winton Street, have become acquainted with sadness, too, as Raul Jr. suffered a stroke two Octobers ago while playing soccer. Committed to honoring her gumption and his boy’s resolve, the owner heads to his Lower Moyamensing establishment with a desire to show his Mexican pride and familial dedication.
“I’m really thankful for everything, especially this chance to have a second spot,” Castro, also responsible for the operations at Plaza Garibaldi, 935 Washington Ave., said. “The opportunity has certainly helped me even more to express my love for food.”
The Puebla product has resided in South Philly for 20 years and loves its constant means of affirming his belief that life in America would yield better opportunities. The father of three and husband to Veronica enjoys having the 52-seat cantina as a way to sustain his livelihood but also as a source of gregariousness and gratitude.
“If you have a gift, a talent, or a skill, you should share it,” Castro said. “For me, that’s cooking, and I love it.”
Possessing “a special feeling” about the space, which, along with Los Gallos just across the street, gives South Philly neighboring Mexican options, he has crafted a compact menu. Since he opened Aug. 26, the Choripapas Tacos have merited considerable praise as an element of his concentration of Mexican street food.
“It’s one of our most popular items so far,” he said of the item ($9.50). “I appreciate reactions to everything I make here, so to be able to notice that certain things have stood out so far in our short history makes me feel good about our future.”
Ingredients for tacos:
1 pound of red potatoes
1 pound of fresh chorizo
12 white or yellow corn tortillas 5–6 inches
1/4 pound of Oaxaca cheese (optional)
6 ounces of crema or sour cream
6 ounces of Cotija cheese (optional)
Finely shredded lettuce
Pico de gallo (optional)
Directions for the tacos:
Boil the skinned red potatoes in a medium-sized sauce pan seasoned with salt until tender. Once tender, mash them until a smooth chunk develops, with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
In a hot skillet, add the chorizo with a tablespoon or so of oil, and fry until golden brown and crispy. Let cool for a couple minutes, fold with the potatoes, and set aside.
Start vegetable or canola oil on a larger pan with two inches of oil on medium high around 325 degrees. On a griddle or large skillet, warm the tortillas over high heat for a minute or two on each side to make pliable.
Lay the tortillas flat on a dish towel, and place two tablespoons or so of filling, and pull towards the edge. Roll together tightly to resemble a cigar, making sure to take your time.
Once rolled, slide a skewer on each end of the cigars, with two to three per skewer, and fry until golden brown on each side, flipping once, around five to seven minutes each side. Let stand for five minutes.
Lay a bed of lettuce on the plate, and top with the Choripapas. Drizzle the crema or sour cream to taste, and top with the Cojita and pico de gallo. SPR
Comment at southphillyreview.com/food-and-drink/features.
Owner: Raul Castro
Opened: Aug. 26, 2016
1000 Wolf Street • 215–462–1030
Photos by Tina Garceau