345 N 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
And so, after that disappointing not-lunch/one taco at aforementioned Union Taco up on Girard, my buddy and I still had a hunger for something, anything more, and because they wouldn't let us BUY anything until after their opening charade that ended after 2pm that afternoon, we didn't have a choice but to go elsewhere.
A quick drive down 7th, a right on Callowhill and 5 blocks west put us at Quisqueya.
It was one of those "what's that, let's try it," slam-on-the-breaks sort of deal, and there we were - inside this bizarre, empty diner that serves 'Spanish + American' food. Which apparently equals Latin American food.
The chafing trays at the buffet counter were pretty much empty. There was one dude at a booth not eating and another dude across the expansive dining room in mesh shorts and a hoodie looking pretty content with his rice, bean and meat platter.
The lunch special is whatever they have available in those trays for $8 from 11-3, M-F and so we heard what he had to offer. Today there was chicken, pork, beef and fish - which, I imagine is the every day selection, but there was no way to know because there is technically no lunch menu cooked to order, only dinner.
Anyway, it's a pretty good deal because you get a ton of rice, some beans, the protein, fried plantains and a side salad.
I went with the beef, my companion the fish - tilapia I think. The beef was ready to go in a scoop, but the fish took some extra prep time, fresh off the flat top I assume, and then we were on our way.
The proportions were a bit off, there was A LOT of rice and very little meat & beans to match the pile.
That said, the beef was meltingly tender, lean and delicious. It didn't look that appetizing, but it was full of flavor and tasted like some Peruvian spiced, slow-cooked short rib meat.
It fell apart with the slightest touch of my fork, with no strange bits or gristle to interfere with the meat itself. I imagine they cook it for hours to render any fat because this was spot on.
The plaintains were there too. Not much to be said of them other than they added another gritty texture, same as the beans. They had a little sweetness, but I'm not a huge fan, so they just sat on the side.
Just like the salad. If you can even call it that. I thought maybe there was a burger hidden somewhere and these were the toppings. But alas, they supplied a little container of creamy Italian dressing that also went untouched. A not unfortunate loss.
Here's the fish. I heard it was good, but he had the same complaints with regard to the ratio of rice to everything else.
All in all, if you're in a pinch, in the neighborhood and have a hankerin' for some Latin American comfort food at the right price, give it a try. You (probably) won't regret it?