PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- TaRhonda Thomas and Alicia Vitarelli host FYI Philly's celebration of Hispanic and Latin American Heritage month around Philly.
Sor Ynez offers elevated Mexican fare and elusive mezcal service
In an industrial part of Kensington, where the neighborhood is going through a renaissance, the '1800 North American' building is like a community for creators -- anchored by a Nextfab maker's space.
You'll also find a bike shop, architectural salvage, and more.
But the foodie draw in the building is a restaurant doing Mexican fare, fresh and forward.
At Sor Ynez, Executive Chef Alexis Tellez uses classic techniques and influences from his family in Mexico.
He was raised there but grew up here in New Hope, where his mother was also an executive chef.
In addition to traditional Mexican dishes crafted with the chef's farm-to-table approach, the full bar offers a traditional mezcal service.
Mezcal is a spirit similar in taste and origin to tequila.
Sor Ynez's service comes with slices of citrus, and three salts - each with different levels of salinity to complement the smoky taste of the mezcal.
They say this traditional presentation is somewhat hard to find on the local dining scene and is fully authentic at this spot.
1800 N. American Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122
closed Monday and Tuesday
Blue Corn brings the best of Mexico to the Italian Market
Walk into Blue Corn and there is soccer on the TV and authentic Mexican favorites on the menu, like tacos, burritos, sopecitos and huaraches.
The place is run by four siblings. The family worked in restaurants in their home state of Puebla, Mexico. All of the recipes come from an uncle and brother who are chefs, and represent not just Puebla cuisine but also dishes from Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, Mexico City and Yucatan.
Manager Agustin Sandoval Hernandez says there is no signature dish on the menu but there is a signature ingredient.
There's blue corn Caesar salad, blue corn tacos, blue corn tortillas, blue corn chips with salsa and cheesecake pinole for dessert.
Pinole is a mixture of roasted ground maize that comes from the blue corn, which is grown in Mexico, using ancient Aztec cultural practices.
The family is from the small town of San Mateo Ozolco where the pinole is made.
By using the product here, they're supporting the farmers back in their hometown.
Every September, they deck out the place in celebration of Mexican Independence Day and add Mexico's national dish to the menu.
It's called Chiles en Nogada, and it's a giant poblano pepper stuffed with ground pork, beef, fruits and spices, smothered in a walnut sauce and garnished with ruby red pomegranate.
The red, white and green colors of the dish match Mexico's flag, and legend has it the recipe was invented by nuns in Puebla in 1821 to celebrate Mexico's independence over Spain.
At Blue Corn, the dish is made only from mid-August through September.
There are lots of other dishes you can enjoy year-round, and there's a whole menu page dedicated to margaritas. If you want a cocktail with a spicy kick, try the margarita macho, made with Chile relleno-infused tequila, homemade sour mix and cilantro then garnished with a Serrano pepper.
"Some people drink like 4 or 5," Hernandez says.
940 S 9th St, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147
La Michoacana serves authentic recipes from Mexico
La Michoacana is a family-owned and operated taqueria that's been a staple in Norristown for nearly 25 years.
The recipes come from the family's grandmother in Michoacán, which is the state in Mexico the restaurant is named after.
Before the restaurant opened in 1998, she came to Norristown from Mexico to personally drop off her recipes.
"We still follow the instructions for years and the people love it," says server David Páez.
What started as a six-table taqueria now seats up to 80 guests and has more than 90 items on the menu, including many popular margaritas and desserts.
The dining room walls are filled with artwork that reminds them of home.
They see many regular customers, including David, who used to be a regular himself before the family offered him a job as a server.
"I'm the only one out of the family, but I'm kind of family because I've been here for the last 16 years," says David.
301 E. Main Street, Norristown, PA 19401
Centro Musical has been the 'heartbeat of the Barrio' for 65 years
Centro Musical is a place where lovers of Latin music can find everything from old-school salsa to the hottest reggaeton hits, sold on CDs, albums and cassette tapes.
It's a place for those who want to play too, with all kinds of Caribbean percussion instruments-from shekere, bongos and congas to the Puerto Rican guiro and the Dominican guira.
The shop also stocks guitars-everything from kid size to the cuatro puertorriqueño, considered Puerto Rico's national instrument.
The shop opened 65 years ago. When the original owner wanted to retire in 2014, he sold to longtime friend Reinaldo Melendez, who also owns a music store in New York City.
Despite its name, Centro Musical is much more than just a music store.
There's a vast selection of Puerto Rican souvenirs, delivering a dose of nostalgia for local residents who grew up on the island. The dominoes, we're told, always sell out.
Singer Rosa Benitez and musician Johnny Cruz say they've been coming to Centro Musical for decades. On a near daily basis, they put on impromptu concerts that draw in the neighborhood to listen.
Cruz says the store is "the heart of the barrio."
Centro Musical | Facebook
464 W. Lehigh Ave (5th & Lehigh), Philadelphia, Pa. 19133
'La Guagua 47' film explores local Hispanic and Latin American culture
Septa, Al Dia News and Ritmo Lab collaborated to create a new film celebrating the spirit of Hispanic culture in Philadelphia.
Alba Martinez was the creative force behind the song featured in the film called La Guagua 47, based on the Septa 47 bus route.
The route runs from South Philadelphia to North Philadelphia and Alba wrote the song based on her experiences discovering the Hispanic community in Philadelphia when she arrived here in 1985.
More than 30 years later, the film depicts a journey of someone who discovers culture with different stops along the bus route.
FYI Philly's best margaritas
We rounded up some of the city's finest margaritas, from South Philly to Northern Liberties and more.
Our journey stops at five local spots known for their cocktails and we have more than 15 drinks on our menu featuring agave spirits.
931 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
1551 West Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19145
15 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
1101 Horsham Road, Ambler PA 19002
2321 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
People's Light Theatre stages first bilingual production, ''MUSHROOM''
People's Light Theatre in Malvern is staging 'MUSHROOM', the theatre's first-ever bilingual production.
The play is set in Kennett Square, known as the mushroom capital of the world.
It shines a light on the town's mushroom industry workers, many of whom are from Mexico and Central America.
Playwright Eisa Davis spent nine years researching and interviewing people in Kennett Square to develop her story.
"It's a story with unexpected romances and a mysterious workplace dispute. There's also this looming presence of immigration authorities," says Davis.
English and Spanish supertitles are displayed throughout the show, as the narrative moves between both languages.
"Mushrooms are fascinating," says Davis. "There's this mycelial, underground fungal network that allows us as humans to survive."
It's a metaphor representing the unseen world of Kennett Square's mushroom workers.
'MUSHROOM' runs through October 16.
39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355