Cooking at home is fun, but everybody needs a break, and your favorite local restaurant could certainly use your support, especially now. We checked in with some of the restaurants featured in “Somewhere South” for an update on how they’re staying afloat during the pandemic, and a few highlights from their reinvented menus.
Boricua Soul – Durham, NC
Episode 1: American as Hand Pie
In April 2019, Boricua Soul upgraded from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar space in downtown Durham, N.C. When COVID-19 struck a little less than a year later, their food truck sensibilities came in handy. Since deciding to remain open during the pandemic, husband-and-wife duo Toriano and Serena Fredricks decided to offer prepared family meals including bulk orders of empanadas stuffed with Puerto Rican-inspired soul food. “COVID-19 has forced us to go back to our roots a bit,” Serena Fredericks said. “Serving out of the restaurant now looks very similar to food trucking for us. Our dining room is closed to the public, so we’re taking all orders online and offering curbside pick-up, delivery, and to-go options."
The Boricua Soul crew is also making plans for reopening as part of North Carolina’s “Phase 2” COVID-19 regulations. “We plan to keep our dining room closed to the public and place tables (10 feet apart) outside on the covered patio to allow guests to enjoy their meals. We have also added special menu items for families to enjoy: Fried Fish Fridays, Whole Spatchcocked Fried Chicken on Saturdays, and our wildly popular Brunch Boxes. We have also seen some success with our take-and-bake Mac and Cheese and Meatloafs.”
Boricua Soul is offering curbside pickup daily from 4:30-7 p.m. for those lucky enough to be within driving distance.
J&S Pit Stop – San Diego, TX
Episode 6: How Do You 'Cue?
The doors at J&S Pit Stop are currently open and welcoming diners at half-capacity. If you find yourself in the lower half of Texas, stop by for J&S’s delicious daily specials (including the baked potato loaded with barbecued mollejas, aka sweetbreads, Vivian enjoyed in “Somewhere South’s” barbecue episode). Sisters Sarah Chapa and Catherine Solis make a powerful tag team, working hard to make this abnormal time feel like business as usual. They recommend their carryout and drive-thru options for those who don’t feel comfortable dining in.
Desta Ethiopian Kitchen – Atlanta, GA
Episode 5: It's a Greens Thing
Desta recommends you “skip the dishes tonight” and order from their online menu that features daily specials like flatbread layered with Ethiopian-style collards, reminiscent of the slowly simmered greens that define the American South. Although restaurants in Atlanta are allowed to reopen, Desta owner Titi Demissie says, “We don't have a definite date when we will reopen our dining rooms. We are currently offering takeout and delivery of our full menu. When we do reopen the dining rooms, we will most likely start with the patio and limited seating inside. We will have one-time use disposable menus for our dine-in guests. Our staff will all be required to wash their hands every 20 minutes during their shift and wear masks.” Demissie attributes the success of their current takeout and delivery options to loyal customers. “Safety is our number one priority and we appreciate all the support our guests are giving us by continuing to order from us. We are looking forward to opening our dining rooms safely very soon.” When they’re not preparing to-go orders, Desta is providing delicious and comforting meals for first responders and health workers at Atlanta’s Emory Hospital.
Mothers and Sons – Durham, NC
Episode 3: Dumpling Dilemma
Josh “Skinny” DeCarolis and his freshly rolled tagliatelle made an appearance in our dumplings episode. His restaurant, Mothers & Sons is one of Vivian’s favorite downtown Durham eateries. In September of 2019, DeCarolis partnered with Left Bank Butchery to open Alimentari at Left Bank, where he offers a variety of high quality meats and fresh pasta. In late March of 2020, DeCarolis closed Alimentari and Mothers & Sons in response to COVID-19, but immediately reopened Alimentari for takeout. “I decided to offer to-go food from Alimentari as soon as this whole mess began. I figured people would be spending a lot of time at home worrying about the future,” DeCarolis surmised. “Italian-American style food is comforting and approachable. So in some way, my goal was to provide a little comfort when it felt like the world was spinning out of control.” After experiencing some success with the reopening of Alimentari at Left Bank, DeCarolis turned a Durham storefront next to Mothers & Sons into a pop-up shop where he offers Italian style family meals like lasagna verde, cheese manicotti, eggplant parmigiano, as well as freshly baked focaccia. “At both places, we provide fresh pasta and sauces as well as prepared foods and Italian meats and and cheeses,” DeCarolis said. “In Raleigh, we have the whole animal butcher shop providing fresh cuts of pork and beef. In Durham, we don't have fresh meat but we make up for it with fresh vegetables from our local farmers.” If you’re in Raleigh, stop by Alimentari at Left Bank for fresh pasta and meats between 11am and 6pm Wednesday-Saturday 11am-6pm. Durham hours are Thursday- Saturday from 11am-6pm. Visit Alimentari at Mothers & Sons for weekly specials and an easy-to-use online ordering system.
Chai Pani – Asheville, NC
Episode 4: What a Pickle
Meherwan Irani is the owner of Chai Pani with locations in Atlanta, Ga., and Asheville, N.C.. The Asheville location, which hosted the Brown In the South dinner featured in “Somewhere South’s” pickle episode, shut its doors on April 2nd in response to COVID. Since then, Irani has been hosting twice-weekly "Chai Time Tutorials." Saturday is "Chai Time," with 30-minute instructional videos featuring easy, DIY Indian recipes where Irani aims to get people comfortable with classic Indian cooking. Wednesdays are “Chai Time Quickie,” short videos that offer quick how-tos like how to make paneer, your own garam masala, mango pickle and more. Tune in HERE.