SOUTH BOSTON – Fire pits and ice cold drinks; garden style seating that brings the outdoors in; and a menu boasting everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to whole fried snapper. There are so many reasons why you’ve got to go to PubliCo.
Located on the corner of Dorchester and West First Street, PubliCo is the brainchild of partners Jairo Dominguez, Teodora Bakardzhieva and Theo Bougas, who wanted to bring dishes from across the globe to this stylish spot in South Boston.
“We love to travel, and we love to go to local markets, and local markets have street food,” Jairo explained. “It’s easy to grab with your hand and walk around and I love that kind of food. So that was kind of where the concept grew out of.”
The trio designed a stunning space unlike anything in the area.
“The space itself is one big open space. We have a beautiful bar and our dining area seats about 60,” Theo said. “Our wow factor is that outdoor atrium with a bar, seating with fire pits.”
A great addition to the PubliCo kitchen is seasoned Chef Keenan Langlois, who came up with an interesting yet approachable menu, borrowing ingredients and traditions from around the world.
“What I did was take a technique or a product from one country, and then modify that and utilize ingredients from another country, and bring them together in a way that made sense to me.”
So there are crepes stuffed with south of the border ingredients, and tacos filled with steak tartare.
“When you first bite into the tartare taco, you get that first crunch, like crackly outer shell; and then you get into that cold meat that has a really nice picante spice flavor to it; and then you get the crisp fried capers which round it out with a nice salty aspect to it; and it’s all coated with a fried egg aioli,” the chef described. “It’s ridiculously awesome.”
For a taste of the ultimate handheld street food, get yourself a Perrito Caliente.
“The Perrito Caliente is basically a hot dog. All beef, Kayem dog, and we kind of jazz it up by adding some pineapple salsa and bacon bits and then a lime mayo to it,” Chef Keenan said. “It’s fun to eat, you can use your hands. It’s a little messy.”
Other starters include Empanadas stuffed with serrano ham and cheese, steamed mussels swimming in an addictive broth with grilled garlic bread for dipping, and light and refreshing ceviche served with a plantain chip for added crunch.
If you prefer your fish cooked, head to the entree section and order the whole fried snapper, a dish that’s truly a head turner.
“Every time the look on their face, the jaw drops, they look at their friend and they’re just thinking, how am I gonna eat that?” Keenan said. “And then the plate comes back with just the head and the tail on it, and I’m like, how did they eat that?”
The phenomenal fish is given a light fry and deboned so it is easier to eat.
“We take the whole fish, bone out the center, and then roll it in some flour, and then batter it, and then deep-fry the whole thing. Pull it out, coat it with some chili oil and some radish salad and then serve it over some rice with radish and black bean puree and chipotle crema,” Chef Keenan explained.
Meat lovers can opt for the 18-ounce ribeye topped with chipotle butter and a flavor packed chimichurri, or just bite into one of the best burgers in Southie.
“It’s a brisket and chuck blend. We griddle on the flat top, add some smoked Grafton cheddar and then cover that with bacon lardons and some grilled onions. Put that on a potato bun with a smear of our house spice sauce, and some shredded lettuce and then pack it all up in a little PubliCo paper sack,” the chef said. “You can eat it right out of there to keep your hands clean, because it is a messy burger.”
Hamburger can also be found on the brunch menu in hash form, along with two perfectly poached eggs, pepper relish and bacon fat arepas. Or there are tasty Chilaquilles topped with chunks of avocado, or addictive Beignets rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with a Mezcal Sabyon.
For a sweet treat to end your PubliCo experience, nothing tops a big Bowl of Cake.
“We smear the bowl with the espresso mousse and then lay down a big chunk of cake. Cover that with the ganache and the nuts and then more whipped cream,” Chef Keenan described. “It looks a little messy, but it’s great to share and people dig right in.”
There really are few misses at PubliCo, a place that’s deliciously different for dining in Boston.
“It’s a really different place that looks out of place in the middle of the city,” the chef said. “You feel like you’re transported to a different world, and then sit down and get taken back and forth across continents. Hang out and eat some great food.”
You can find PubliCo Street Bistro & Garden at 11 Dorchester Street in South Boston, and online at publicoboston.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.