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Food Scene: Pistola’s Del Sur adds fresh vibe to avenue gateway

The Mexican restaurant fills the vacancy at the old Palladino’s spot

Photos provided by Pistola’s Del Sur

By Bill Gelman

There is no doubt that 1934 E. Passyunk is considered the gateway to the avenue. It’s one of the first places people see as they make the turn off of South Broad Street — not just because of the giant sign on the side of the building. But in terms of recent history, the space has not exactly flourished. It was vacant for years following a 2012 fire that marked the end of Colombo’s. Chef Luke Palladino rolled out his Italian steakhouse concept in December of 2014, but a 2016 bankruptcy ended his brief stay.

Funny thing is, before Palladino moved in, Casey Parker and his partners were eyeing the space. They are the team behind Jose Pistola’s in Center City and Sancho Pistola’s in Fishtown. Parker, who has spent time living in South Philly, wanted to be part of the hot foodie scene. Guess which spot they picked to open Pistola’s Del Sur? The latest concept from Parker, and partners Joe Gunn, Adam Anderson and chef Adan Trinidad opened last month — almost a year after signing the lease.

“I always loved South Philly. I used to live at 21st and Snyder. “I would frequent [the spot] when it was Colombo’s. I loved the whole triangle concept. I wasn’t really looking, but you’re always looking

“When Palladino’s left I made a few phone calls. I love that everyone calls it the gateway. I am so excited about being there.”

Like the other Pistola’s locations, the food and design have the feel of a fun and loud Mexican bar scene with roasted corn soup, ceviche, open-face quesadilla, tacos, flatbreads, octopus and cactus salsa and more being some of the highlights.

“We will allow the menu to evolve as we see what the neighborhood likes,” Parker said.

Instead of having a big public relations blitz to introduce their newest concept to the East Passyunk Crossing neighborhood, the team decided to go all in from the start.

“We do hard openings. We were doing painting and grouting the day before,” Parker said, “We opened at 6 p.m [Sept. 13]. We are more ready for this one.”

Like Barcelona Wine Bar, 1709 E. Passyunk Ave., Pistola’s is keeping the doors open for the late-night crowd, open seven days a week until 2 a.m., with the kitchen staying open until 1 a.m.

“We just would not have done it if we could not be open until 2 a.m.,” Parker said.

Lunch service starts at 11 a.m. on weekdays and brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10:30 a.m.

The bar/restaurant, which seats about 80 inside and another 60 outside, has several specials available during Eagles games, including $5 buddy burgers with bean pickle aioli, $4 pints of Dallas Sucks from Easton-based Weyerbacher Brewing (yes, it really does exist) and $7 freedom tacos (hardshells). When the Eagles are playing, the music is replaced by the play-by-play.

Creating that game day vibe was several months in the making as the owners transformed an upscale steakhouse into a vibrant Mexican bar scene. Some of the materials were taken from an old church in Fishtown as they repurposed the wood and stained glass to fit the design.

The draft system that features 10 beers on tap is rather unique with a custom built-in line cleaner. Besides Dallas Sucks, the draft list also includes Russian River Blind Pig, Sly Fox Orielly Stout and Allagash Hoppy Table Beer. Tequilas (not Jose Cuervo) and mezcals are also well-represented on the bar menu.

“We are thrilled with the way it came out,” Parker said.

Call it the gateway to the next chapter of the Pistola’s brand.

Pistola’s Del Sur

1934 E. Passyunk Ave.

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