Frida Cantina, the authentic bar representing Mexican culture in South Philly
Founder Raul Castro is also the owner of Plaza Garibaldi — another South Philly Mexican must-visit.
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Nestled in the heart of South Philadelphia lies a bar and restaurant that showcases over 90 types of mezcal and tequila.
Raul Castro, owner of Frida Cantina and Plaza Garibaldi said the reason why he has an unlimited amount of liquor is because he wants to give his customers that feeling of being in a classic Mexican bar.
Upon entering, customers are immediately greeted with elaborate and vibrant colors reminiscent of Dia De Los Muertos.
Castro opened this modest bar in 2016 with the focus of good drinks and authentic food.
“It's a different kind of animal, it's completely different from Plaza Garibaldi,” Castro said in a recent interview with AL DIA News, referencing his other restaurant also in South Philly.
Castro used Frida Kahlo as an inspiration to the cantina because her power and grit is something that everyone knows and can relate to.
He’s no stranger to the small restaurant industry but did not expect that the COVID-19 pandemic would shut down the city where his restaurants were born.
“It was really hard, no one wanted to work at the restaurant anymore,” said Castro.
He and his wife decided to remain open, but with no extra help, meaning they would have the responsibility of running both of their eateries on their own.
“We had no customers indoors, which was easier for us,” said Castro.
Instead of serving his customers, he relied on delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub to deliver the food. They were also able to pick it up if they wanted.
The COVID-19 pandemic may still be lingering in Philadelphia, but more of its residents are taking initiative to get their first and second doses of the COVID vaccines, which will be the stepping stone of the city reopening.
Frida Cantina is currently open 25% inside, but also has outdoor seating.
“We can see that business is getting better, yesterday was Cinco De Mayo, and it was so busy,” he said.
Castro is also using his cantina to highlight various cultural foods that he’s created over many years.
For instance, his queso fundido con rajas poblanas, which is melted chihuahua cheese with roasted poblano pepper strips and sauteed onions, have been a hit with longtime customers.
“We also have fish tacos that are very well known,” said Castro.
The fish is breaded, deep fried, and garnished with lettuce, pico, radish, with a side of rice.
They also have ceviche de pescado, which is another top seller.
Castro, who is from the state of Puebla, Mexico, raised in Mexico City then came to America for a better life and better opportunities.
“I’ve been in Philadelphia for almost 30 years,” he said.
If you are interested in trying some eclectic, and delicious drinks like a spicy margarita, a watermelon mojito, or the Frida & Diego, give this cantina a shot!
Check out Frida Cantina, which is on the corner of 10th and Wolf streets.