UPDATE (6/28/13): Since moving to Centre Park about a year ago, we’ve gone back to Sofrito more times than I can count. That’s partly because it’s in walking distance, but there are few places I’d rather have so close by. The food is always excellent, and we have grown especially fond of the bar tacos, chicken chiccharones, and jerk painted salmon. Our neighbors and friends are also crazy about the Cuban sandwich and the chicken mango quesadilla. The beer selection is solid, usually including multiple IPAs, and the entertainment keeps getting better. Local one-man-band Matt Bailey has been playing cover songs every Friday night lately, and it’s always a fun time. Best of all, we’ve enjoyed getting to know Hector and consider him a valuable partner in Reading’s renaissance. In the future, we will look back on people like him as the ones responsible for our city overcoming its current obstacles and growing into a more active and vibrant community.
When you’re deciding between wing flavors like Cajun, Jamaican jerk, and mango habanero, you know you’re not at a corner sports bar anymore. These choices are among the options at Sofrito Gastro Pub, a Reading-loving restaurant that opened in the fall of 2011.
The building used to be home to Tommy’s Café, which I’m told was somewhat of a landmark in the Centre Park Historic District. Chef-turned-owner Hector Ruiz bought the place in May with help from the city’s new microloan program, and he’s been seeing great success so far.
Part of what makes Sofrito special is its Latin-Caribbean twist on American pub food. You can still get burgers, wings, and fries, but the menu is also full of mango, pico de gallo, and yucca. Last night I enjoyed the steak because it was the daily deal, but next time I want to check out the flavorful and unique “bar taco” options. And for having such a creative menu, the prices are surprisingly affordable. Best of all, they try to get as many ingredients as possible from local farms.
Looking around the bar, and Sofrito’s Facebook page, it’s obvious that the people here love the city of Reading as much as I do. The walls are covered with Reading memorabilia, of course including plenty of signs for old Reading Premium beer. The Reading Beer cooler behind the bar is one of the most fun decorations, which has been there for at least 50 years and according to the Reading Eagle, might be the only one in existence that actually still works.
The rest of the place looks very clean and professional, carefully balancing modern flair with historic charm. All the tables and chairs are obviously new, but the brick walls and hardwood floor remind me of a classic Irish pub.
Sofrito also has a cabana deck out back, which officially opens each year for their Cinco de Mayo party. And speaking of parties, Sofrito brings in DJs and musicians on the weekend nights, but the atmosphere at dinner time was pretty relaxed.
Check out Sofrito at 220 Douglass Street any day of the week for lunch, dinner, or drinks. Parking is on the street, but we had no problem finding a place right out front.
This article was originally published April 19, 2012.