Nora’s Kitchen brings birria tacos and more to South Street
Despite showcasing the best of Mexican cuisine, owner Nora Portugal hopes to one day open a restaurant to highlight her own Peruvian dishes.
After immigrating to Philadelphia from Madre De Dios, Peru, near the rainforest, Nora Portugal got to work achieving her dreams of becoming an experienced chef.
She spent years working at Normandy’s Farm in Blue Bell, then created a modest space she and her husband could call their own.
With the help of her husband, Luis Lorenzo, they eventually set up shop and starting delivering Mexican food cooked by her husband out of a food truck in University City.
After years of looking for a storefront, they eventually found a space a block away from Jim’s Steaks on South Street in May of 2016.
“We wanted to venture out on our own,” said Portugal, owner of Nora’s Kitchen in South Philly said in a recent interview with AL DIA News.
Lorenzo and Portugal met at a restaurant in Philadelphia and have experienced the highs and lows of what life is like in the industry.
“It has been challenging, but we have been able to stick around, and we love it,” she said.
Lorenzo and Portugal decided to focus on Mexican food that Lorenzo used to eat as a kid growing up in Mexico City.
“We wanted to keep the menu small, less is more,” she said.
Despite its size, the entrees are packed with flavor and don’t deliver anything but the freshest ingredients.
One Mexican food staple they are known for is their Birria Tacos.
“They are very popular, a lot of people order them daily and its something new that we have been working on,” said Portugal.
The process of creating the pieces of crunchy goodness is long, but simple.
It starts with braising beef shanks, oxtails, and short ribs.
“We braise our beef for about 6-8 hours,” said Portugal
The marinade is made with ancho chiles, oregano, garlic, cumin, and other spices to play with one’s taste buds.
The tacos are then fried to perfection and repeatedly dipped in homemade broth for extra flavor.
They are then garnished with cilantro and fresh onions.
“We are also known for our fish tacos,” said Portugal.
The fish tacos are made with seared sea bass and other ingredients.
Right now, Portugal’s restaurant is showcasing Mexican cuisine, but she has future plans to open a restaurant that shows off her Peruvian cooking skills.
“That’s happening in the near future, I want Peruvian food to get the focus that it deserves and that’s why I want to open a whole other restaurant for that kind of food,” she said.
Although her restaurant is now limited to only take-out and pick-up orders, Portugal says business has been steady.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we closed for a few weeks,” she said. “When we found out that the pandemic was going to stay for a while we realized that we are keeping our restaurant and we reopened.”
She and her husband want to eventually open outdoor seating before the summer begins.
So show a Latina-owned restaurant some love by checking out their menu, and ordering some flavorful birria tacos.