Opening of the El Chingon Mexican restaurant in South Philadelphia preview of the Museum of Art menu
A new Mexican restaurant featuring regional dishes from the state of Puebla won’t open in South Philadelphia until at least early August, but patrons of the Philadelphia Museum of Art can get a sneak peek this weekend.
Carlos Aparicio is the chef at home at the museum café and will be there from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Friday to Sunday. His next restaurant, El Chingon Philadelphia at 1524 S 10th St., specialize in cemitasa sandwich made on a sort of round, crusty bun topped with sesame seeds.
At the museum, Aparicio serves chicken and portobello mushroom varieties of the sandwich for $16. They will come with avocado, tomato, red onion, quesillo, chipotle adobo and mayo.
Those looking for something more refreshing can try the aguachile — a cold soup with avocado, hearts of palm, cucumbers, pearl onions, cilantro, scallions, lime, and serrano chiles for $12.
Although the version he serves at the museum is herbal, the dish is usually served with raw shrimp. At the restaurant, Aparicio will serve both the vegan version and one with seafood.
During his residency, Aparicio serves two dishes not included in his restaurant menu.
The tetelas are made with masa stuffed with refried beans, epazote, avocado, cabbage, onions, garlic, cheese, cream and salsa, and are available for $6. A tetela with chicken tinga, green cabbage, onion, garlic, tomato and chipotle is also available for $10.
The pop-up is only open to those who purchase a ticket for the museum. Admission is usually $25, but it’s “pay as you wish” on Sundays.
Aparicio named his restaurant after a common affectionate term used in his country.
“In Mexico, we use this expression to refer to our friends and best buddies,” Aparicio said. “I call everyone on my team – from line cooks to managers – ‘chingon’.”
Appearance was born in Puebla but immigrated to New York when he was young, eventually settling in Philadelphia in 1999.
Since then, he’s made a name for himself at restaurants like Parc in Rittenhouse Square, Zagafen in Bala Cynwyd, and Zavino Wine Bar locations in Midtown Village and University City. Aparicio is currently the executive chef of Enza Pizzeria in Glenside.
El Chingon won’t be the first restaurant in South Philly to serve Puebla food.
Most neighborhood Mexican immigrant population around the Italian market originated in the region. Before coming to the United States, many were farmers in the impoverished countryside of the mountainous province.
Institutions like Mole Poblano, Los Gallos, and Los Cuatro Soles have been serving Pueblan specialties like Arabic tacos, chalupas, and chile rellenos for years.
The community celebrates Cinco de Mayo each year with Puebla Carnival, an event featuring traditional Mexican costumes and music. This year was the 10th anniversary of the event.
While Cinco de Mayo is simply a time to celebrate Mexican culture for most Americans, in Mexico it commemorates the nation’s victory over the French invaders in First Battle of Puebla in 1862.
The museum launched its chef-in-residence program when it reopened after the pandemic last June. It featured chefs such as Nok Suntaranon from Kalaya Thai Kitchen, Tova du Plessis from Essen Bakery and Melissa Fernando from Sri’s Company.