South at Pybus Market is much like South in Leavenworth, only different.
The new restaurant in Wenatchee's Pybus Center has a slightly shorter menu that features nearly all the Leavenworth favorites, minus the Bavarian sausage with warm sauerkraut. Both restaurants have a full bar featuring dozens of rare tequilas and dynamite margaritas.
The atmosphere, however, is quite different. Rather than Leavenworth's loud, lively Latin island in the heart of Bavaria, South at Pybus is lively, but not so loud; Latin, but hardly an island in the Wenatchee Valley's sea of Mexican restaurants.
It is, however, the only Latin restaurant at the Pybus Center, and it's a good one, offering a nice selection of spicy foods all with a healthy, creative twist. Upstairs restaurant seating and the bar are great spots for people watching on the Pybus floor below. In better weather, an outside deck offers views of the Columbia River and hikers on the Wenatchee Valley Recreational Loop Trail.
Owners Cappy and Price Bond and their cooks offered us a full range of flavors beginning with a pair of very hot jalapeno pepper poppers stuffed with Mexican cheese swimming in a soothing poblano cream sauce. South's good selection domestic, imported and microbrew beers comes in handy to chase these firebombs.
Our salad of twin tostadas could easily be a meal. We were served the deluxe edition with crab and shrimp meat over corn tortillas, black bean sauce, a mound of shredded lettuce and topped with tomatoes, cheese, crema and guacamole. I really like these and thought they were tasty and refreshing. Kent thought they were too plain and topped with too much iceberg lettuce.
A nice feature at both South restaurants is the salsa bar, where you get your fill of chips and a selection of mild to wild salsas. You can spice up to your heart's content or seek heartburn.
Our Carnitas Plate entree featured chunks of pork, slow-cooked to tender and then doused with Pepsi Cola and carmelized over an open grill. We have had some very tasty pork dishes entered in this year's reviews and this was definitely one of them. The spicy meat was served with drunken pintos (beans cooked with tequila) and cilantro-lime rice and tortillas.
Dessert was South's famed Tres Leches Cake, soft, succulent and festive.
South at Pybus Center, 888-5463; most dinner items priced $8 to $23.
The Dream Meal Team has been at it again. For the second year, our group of three experienced foodies took on the enviable task of dining out once or twice a week at some of the region's finest restaurants for reviews and to pick the best appetizer, salad, entree and dessert for the Foothills magazine's annual Dream Meal.
The winners — and there were many — are published in the January-February issue of Foothills, now available at many locations. Reviews of all participating restaurants will appear one each week on the Winemaker's Journal website.
The Dream Meal review team is made up of Annette Pitts, director of the Cascade Loop Association, former caterer and food blogger; Kent Getzin, Wenatchee School District director of food services and member of the National Farm to School Board of Directors; and Rick Steigmeyer, food and wine blogger and Wenatchee World staff writer. Most of the food photos were taken by Kent and his nifty iPhone 5.
All meals were provided by the restaurants, most drinks were purchased. As current or former food service workers, we all want to see local restaurants succeed. Criticisms, if any, are all meant to be constructive.