A Gluten Free Taste of South America at Sazon
My last quest for a gluten free lunch was a decent success with Georgio’s pasta, but I was hoping for something completely different. That’s when I happened upon Sazon, a Venezuelan restaurant a little north and west of Center City run by a husband and wife team, Sazon, specializes in arepas, which are made with corn and are therefore perfect for the gluten phobic. When ordering, make sure to let the waiter know of your dietary restrictions and whatever you order will be prepared on separate cooking surfaces.
Plantains with cheese were a fine starter. All of the food took a while to get to us, but everything was plated beautifully.
Having not had en empanada in a while, I had to order one- but note these are not gluten free. The pabellon comes filled with most shredded beef and beans. At Sazon, the empanadas are fried and thick. It came with a side of tangy slaw and salsa.
The arepas came out split down the middle and stuffed with your chosen fillings. The arepas themselves seemed like they lacked a bit of fat or butter. The fillings, no matter which kind, far overshadow the corm shells they come in. The pernil filling ($9) was really juicy and the meat was highlighted by the orange juice marinate.
The chicken and avocado arepa we ordered surprised by being served cold, basically a refined guacamole- chicken salad ($7.50). Cali-Venezuelan fusion could be the next big thing? Calizuelan?
I was thrilled to see sancocho on the menu, a big bowl cost me a steep $8. It didn’t have the fatty richness that someone’s Domincan grandma might achieve, but it was flavored well. Though cilantro phobes might have to see if they could request without the green herb.
Chocolate is another specialty here. They make their own truffles and hot chocolate with a whole slew of options to combine with. There is undoubtedly a combo to satisfy every chocolate lover but be warned, they do not come cheap. A teeny cup of hot chocolate can cost over $7.
I like that Sazon has exciting options for gluten free diners, I like that the dishes are clean and flavors balanced, but the prices are a bit steep for the size and when you know how much these dishes normally go for.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Gluten Free
- Upscale Venezuelan Food
- Arepas and empanadas are not easy to come by in Philly
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Long wait for the food
- Prices steep for what the size of what you get
Sazon, 941 Spring Garden St (@ 9th St), 215-763-2500