Day One: Sancho Pistola’s in Fishtown
Yesterday was opening night for Sancho Pistola’s, and boy was the restaurant packed. We’d even say it’s possible more people came through the bar last night than visited Bubba’s Texas BBQ in the entire time it was open.
The crowds came for several reasons, not least the fact that Jose Pistola’s partners Casey Parker and Joe Gunn are two of the most affable and beloved characters in Philly’s bar scene, and are famous for killing it with great beer selections. It’s chef-partner Adan Trinidad’s food, though, that really kicks the appeal of this new Fishtown joint up a notch.
Here’s the skinny:
Trinidad’s menu is broken into a handful of amusingly named sections. “Chip’s Friend’s” covers dips like guacamole topped with raw spicy tuna; “Hook’s Enemies” includes ceviches, tiraditos and the raw bar selection. You can get wings (“imagine all the chickens that can’t fly because of you”) and fundido and mole buns and soup.
Nearly a dozen kinds of tacos are either “land” or “fish.” We saw many, many plates of the oyster po’ boy tacos go by, but ended up with the Korean rib version, which comes with the tiny stripped bones on the side so you can gnaw all the spicy BBQ flavor out of them.
All of the above is $14 an under. Larger plates (called “Smart Portions” for some reason) include a chicken leg confit, a burger and a pork porterhouse - the top ticket item at $21.
Nine taps are currently pouring a selection of mostly high-strength crafts. We were intrigued by the Jolly Pumpkin Fuego Del Atona - it’s apparently a pumpkin sour (?) - but ended up with a ShawneeCraft Biere Blanche.
The bottle/can list has 40 more from the US (including Miller Lite, with the single-word description: “tool”) and another 15 from overseas.
The cocktail list is heavy on the tequila and mezcal, and we had a chance to sample two. The Big Mex has both the agave spirits in it - the tequila is jalapeno-infused - and is mixed with fresh strawberry purée. Ask for it without the added agave nectar, it’s not needed. If you love the smokiness of mezcal, try the El Garrido, which dresses up the spirit with bitters, a brandy-soaked cherry and a burnt orange peel garnish. Drinks go for $11 each.
As the partners told us in December, not much has been done to the interior, save taking out some odd chandeliers made of antlers, but the room is pretty enough on its own. A huge, four-sided bar takes over most of the room, and it’s ringed by a dozen or so high tops for parties of two or four. Large arched windows overlook Girard Avenue, and the open kitchen makes up the opposite end of the space.
On the wall are a series of drawings of local scenes by Kerry Parker (Casey's wife), done in the style of Picasso’s famous sketch of Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza. You can catch Quixote taking a smoke break outside nearby Johnny Brenda’s, for example, while Sancho attends to his mule.
Sancho Pistola’s is open 4 PM-2 AM, Monday-Friday and 11 AM-2 AM, Saturday-Sunday. The kitchen is open through 1 AM every night.
19 W. Girard Ave.; 267-324-3530