Blue Corn offers a taste of Mexico City in South Philly
“Our goal is not to be like other places,” explains Amado Sandovar, manager of Mexican restaurant Blue Corn. “We came to give people an experience from Mexico City.”
In 2014, Amado Sandovar and his brothers debuted Blue Corn in Philly’s Italian Market intending to teach people about the complexities of Mexican cuisine and show them what an actual dining experience in Mexico City looks like.
“We want to educate people,” said Sandovar. “People originally came in expecting Tex-Mex food. We get them to stay and try what we have. They leave satisfied and keep on coming back.”
Blue Corn’s menu is extensive and features Mexican classics, such as the gordita (small corn cake with masa stuffed with lettuce and sour cream, pork and cheese), quesadillas (made with Chihuahua cheese and epazote, mushroom, huitlacoche and zucchini flour), huarache (a pan-seared flattened oval of pinole masa topped with refried beans, red salsa, queso freco, cooked cactus and cilantro) and sopecitos (refried beans, queso fresco and sour cream with beef, Mexican sausage or chicken).
Although these are common Mexican dishes that could be found throughout Mexico City, Blue Corn also offers its own unique creations made by head chef Roberto Juarez, Sandovar’s nephew.
One such example is the magnificently green plate called “Ofrenda de los dioses” meaning “Offering of the gods.” The dish consists of layers of tortillas, huitlacoche, poblano pepper, stir-fried onion and Oaxaca cheese. The green color comes from the sauce made from poblano peppers and cilantro.
Another fascinating creation is the “Angelitos Negros” meaning “Little black angels.” Like Ofrenda de los dioses, this dish is covered in rich sauces, but contains two chicken breasts underneath. One half features pine nut sauce while the other is a poblano mole made with huitlacoche.
All of the dishes are made fresh daily and use the most authentic ingredients possible. The name Blue Corn comes from the blue tortilla color, found in the huarache dish among others, derived from blue corn meal imported from Puebla, Mexico, where Sandovar and his brothers are originally from.
Like many other immigrants from Mexico, Sandovar came to the U.S. in his twenties looking for opportunity. He had had experience working in the restaurant industry in Mexico City as a dishwasher, server and bartender. When he arrived in Philadelphia to be close to his uncle and cousins that were already living there, he found work in various restaurants doing tasks ranging from waiting tables to dishwashing to running a bar.
The opportunity to open Blue Corn came when a friend of the family, who had tried and failed to run a restaurant at the location, offered Sandovar the space and gave him the chance to try his own restaurant.
Going forward, Blue Corn is considering opening new locations in New Jersey and Center City. The restaurant also changes specials each weekend depending on the season.
To learn more about Blue Corn, check out their Facebook page. Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday to Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Address: 940 S. 9th Street Philadelphia, PA 19147. Prices: $7 - $16.