Center City: A Little Venezuela in the City

A group walked by the Statue of Francisco de Miranda on the Parkway.
The Statue of Francisco de Miranda located on the Parkway is a gift from the Venezuelan government.

While the number of Venezuelans in Philadelphia is small, the mark of that South American nation can be found around the city.

The Venezuelan population is among the smallest of the Latino groups living in Philadelphia.

The U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 counted just 409 Venezuelans living in the city, which made up about 0.02 percent of the population. Venezuela was not among the top ten countries of ancestry for Latinos in Philadelphia according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

One of the oldest Venezuelan landmarks in Philadelphia is the statue of Francisco de Miranda. De Miranda was a native of Venezuela and a war hero who fought in the American and French Revolutions as well as for the independence of Latin America from Spain.

This statue was a gift from the Venezuelan government to Philadelphia for America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976. The statue stands on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the north side of the Franklin Institute. (Venezuela’s Independence Day is July 5, one day after America celebrates its independence.)

A place to taste the spirit of Venezuela is at the Sazón Restaurant at the corner of 10th and Spring Garden streets. Sazón Restaurant is the first and to date the only Venezuelan restaurant in Philadelphia.

The Venezuelan flag hangs among others along the parkway.

Robert Campbell, co-owner of Sazón, takes pride in the fact that the restaurant is  “not a franchise.”

Campbell emphasized that the restaurant served only authentic Venezuelan cuisine with roots from his wife’s native town of Puerto la Cruz. Sazón’s owners said they want to keep their cuisine authentic, fresh and healthy.

Campbell noted: “We have the same two guys back there [in the kitchen]. We’re a tight knit group.”

Sazón’s owners have sought to make sure that the restaurant’s menu stays as pure and as genuine as the first day the restaurant opened. While the restaurant is not large, customers consider it the place to go to eat authentic Venezuelan food.


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