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Co-owner Miguel Toro and his family have been serving Peruvian dishes since their establishment opened in 2005. Photo: Al Día News.
Co-owner Miguel Toro and his family have been serving Peruvian dishes since their establishment opened in 2005. Photo: Al Día News.

How El Balconcito continues providing traditional Peruvian meals amid COVID-19

El Balconcito is one of three Peruvian restaurants run by Miguel Toro and his family in Philadelphia.

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Have you ever wondered what Peruvian food tastes like?

Did you know that there is a Peruvian restaurant that takes pride in knowing that their recipes are straight from Callao, Peru right here in Philadelphia? 

Callao is where Miguel Toro and his family are from. He is the, co-owner of El Balconcito, where Toro and his family serve original Peruvian recipes to customers that have been served to them since they were kids.

“El Balconcito is a family-owned restaurant, we opened our first restaurant in 2005, where we have been giving customers satisfying meals that everyone in my family has been eating,” Toro said in a recent interview with AL Día News.

Not only does his family own El Balconcito, but also owns two more restaurants, El Balconcito II and Peru Vista, which recently opened in 2018.

Opening a restaurant wasn’t necessarily their goal, but just to do something together as a family.

“My family’s dream was to always work together and do something that we were all going to be proud of, so this is our opportunity to work together and enjoy every moment,” said Toro.

Their Peruvian food, which also has touches of Portuguese cuisine, has been a staple for local North Philadelphians that now crave foods that are exclusive to El Balconcito.

“Our most popular dishes are ceviche, which is a side dish made of raw fish, citrus juice, and spiced with chili peppers, and onions, another best seller is our lomo saltado, a stir fry that is made of sirloin steak, onions, tomatoes, and french fries,” Toro explained.

Business was booming, but came to an abrupt halt amid COVID-19.

Despite the stoppage, El Balconcito managed to make the most of it, even though the beginning of the pandemic was rough.

“My family and I didn’t know how to start, we were brainstorming together, and we believed that we should start delivering food straight to their homes,” said Toro.

They did it on their own at first, but Toro admitted that it got exhausting, leaving them to now work with GrubHub and DoorDash to handle deliveries.

Unlike other restaurants AL DÍA has profiled since the beginning of the 2021, partnering with the delivery apps was a boon to sales for El Balconcito.

“We did see a big increase in our sales after we started using delivery services, our sales went down from 80% to 40%, which is a big improvement for us, we were very happy with that,” said Toro.

On top of that, the restaurant was able to receive some grants from the state, which included grants for minority-owned businesses and businesses that were owned by women. 

Toro’s mother is an owner of their family restaurants.

Also throughout the rough patch, El Balconcito had its customers to rely on to stay afloat.

“We’ve been in business for so many years, our customers knew that we were going to try our best in providing them with our meals,” Toro said.

When the city has gone back to limited indoor seating on Jan. 16, it was another step back towards normalcy for El Balconcito.

“We just opened our doors for dining, which we are optimistic about, we are looking forward to see how that goes,” he said.

Be sure to check our El Balconcito’s menu and try their famous ceviche and lomo saltado.

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