El Pueblito Fruit Market: Former Merryfield’s Chef Starts up in Audubon


Chef Pedro Ortiz is excited to bring his family’s recipes to the neighborhood in his debut eatery.

By Matt Skoufalos | February 15, 2021

Pedro and Alayna Ortiz of El Pueblito Fruit Market. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

For the past two decades, chef Pedro Ortiz labored behind the scenes at Merryfield’s—now Mulligan’s—bar and grill in Oaklyn.

Now, he’s striking out on his own in the town next door, with El Pueblito Fruit Market, a kitchen and convenience store offering Mexican fare, market goods, and fresh produce.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” Ortiz said.

“I decided a couple years ago to get my own business,” he said. “I’m living the American dream.”

With help from his daughter, Alayna, Ortiz is bringing the flavors of his native Acapulco to the West Merchant Street business district in Audubon. The relocation of Angelo’s Pizza to the former Flowers By Renee storefront opened up a turnkey kitchen on the block, and Ortiz seized the opportunity.

“We like the area,” Alayna Ortiz said. “Everyone’s friendly. The whole neighborhood’s nice.”

The menu at El Pueblito is built around the Ortiz family’s homemade recipes, and includes authentic renditions of familiar classics like tacos, tortas, and burritos, as well as bar food like wings, fries, and mozzarella sticks. Pedro Ortiz said he plans to supplement it with seafood dishes, including ceviche.

Staff favorites include tacos al pastor, which Alayna Ortiz describes as “spicy and a little sweet,” with pork shoulder, pineapple juice, and guajillo chili powder. The chicken burrito features a rich house mole sauce, and the Cubana torta mixes avocado, ham, egg, lettuce, tomato, and beans on a hoagie roll (with a hot dog added for good measure).

Retail products at El Pueblito Fruit Market. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The market portion of the business features a few shelves stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as spice blends and specialty products.

Customers stopping in for a meal can also help themselves to some Tajin chili lime seasoning, Sabritones puffed wheat snacks, tortillas, and hot sauce.

Staple produce, from pineapples and avocados to tomatoes, peppers, onions, bananas, and more, can save neighborhood residents an extra trip to the grocery store.

“We wanted to bring produce because you can’t get it really close,” Alayna Ortiz said.

Only two weeks since opening, the business is just starting to find its footing, but the Ortiz family is excited for the opportunity to make its mark in Audubon.

“We cook with love,” Pedro Ortiz said. “Come in one day and taste it, and see what happens.”

El Pueblito Fruit Market is located at 123 West Merchant Street in Audubon. Open from noon to 9 p.m. daily, pick-up or call-ahead orders may be placed at (856) 306-8533. For more information, visit the shop on Facebook.

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