Nemi, the restaurant that brought Mexican cuisine to Port Richmond
Alejandro Fuentes opened the restaurant in the predominantly Russian and Polish section of Philly to bring a new culture to the area. It’s been a hit.
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Alejandro Fuentes, the co-owner of Nemi Restaurant in Port Richmond developed the idea of opening his own restaurant in the neighborhood because there weren't any Latino-owned restaurants representing the true art of Latino cuisine.
“The idea of coming into the neighborhood is it was known for people who came from Russia and Poland, so we thought it would be a good idea to bring another culture into that specific area,” Fuentes said in a recent interview with AL DÍA News.
He wanted to serve the same dishes he had growing up in Puebla, and other popular dishes from an array of Mexican states.
With the help of chefs Jesus Garcia, originally from Toluca, Mexico and Jasper Alivia, who hails from the Philippines, the trio opened their restaurant, Nemi, almost three years ago.
Before his restaurant became a household name in Port Richmond, Fuentes learned about the restaurant business working alongside his brother at Jon’s Bar and Grille on South Street.
“I started there and that is how I started my journey. I realized that I was good at what I do and I developed a passion for the restaurant industry,” he said.
He quickly realized the flavors of Mexico could be combined in one restaurant, setting him on his path to Nemi.
Speaking of flavors, the Nemi menu does not lack in it or authenticity.
Chef Garcia recreates some of his favorite childhood food, including a ceviche that reminds him of his favorite candy growing up in Toluca, which was a mango lollipop with chili flakes sprinkled on top.
The ceviche is made with thin slices of fresh salmon, passionfruit and mango puree, cilantro, onions and serrano peppers.
Fuentes and his team also created tacos, called CDMX tacos, which stands for Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX).
The taco is made with achiote marinated pork belly, pineapple sauce, onions, cilantro, and habanero salsa on a homemade tortilla.
“It is authentic Mexican food,” said Fuentes. “When I say authentic, we have the flavors, but we have played around with different meats. It is modern Mexican food.”
Another fan favorite are their Chihuahua tacos, which includes marinated flank steak, crispy fried onions, cilantro, and salsa verde.
They have been in business for almost three years and were one of the many restaurants that survived the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was difficult being a new business and handling the pandemic,” said Fuentes. “We didn't know what we were going to do.”
The owners had trouble figuring out how much staff they needed, and how much food they should order. In the moment, they didn’t know what the future would look like, but refused to close their doors.
The restaurant lost almost 70% of its sales, causing Fuentes to defer to using their own vehicles for food delivery services.
They also eventually decided to limit their menu to just dinner, only serving brunch on the weekends.
Despite the rough COVID-19 patch, Nemi has survived and is now 100% open indoors. They are also back to adding different flavors of Mexico to the menu, starting with Fuentes’ mother’s homemade mole recipe.
“We also have mole verde and we serve all of our mole with rice,” he said.
Their weekend specials are just as delicious.
“We have chile relleno a lot of the time for our weekend specials, we don't want our customers to get bored, the relleno is very popular,” said Fuentes.
Now that restaurants and bars are fully open, it is the time to check out Nemi on 2636 Ann St, Philadelphia, P.A.
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