Latin American Chef, Hector Ruiz attributes his early love for food to his mother Aida Vazquez. It was her Puerto Rican cooking that drew Hector to the kitchen as a youngster. Ruiz began his 20-year career in the restaurant business humbly, as a dishwasher at Beaujolies Firehouse on 2nd & Penn, learning under local chefs and waiting for an opportunity to make his dream come true. In the three short years since launching Sofrito, he has transformed a sleepy corner pub into a vibrant mecca for fresh, exciting food, live local music and art, and a cozy place where all are welcome.

Globally Inspired - Localy Created!


 Give the gift of Sofrito with a Sofrito Gift Card.
Cards can be purchased in any amount starting at $20.
Sofirto Gastro Pub shirts #localfirst
SM - XL $15


Sofrito Gastro Pub
220 Douglas Street
Reading PA 19601



  • Sunday - Thursday 12pm - 12am
    Kitchen 12pm - 10pm
  • Friday 11am - 1am
    Kitchen 11am - 10pm
  • Saturday 12pm - 1am
    Kitchen 12pm - 10pm


Rantings of a Local Chef

Christmas In Puerto Rico

Mon Nov 2015

In the early 1980s I was a very sick child. Doctors told my mom that the best place for me to live was either in a tropical climate or in Arizona...so It was off to Puerto Rico. I went to live with my titi Carmen-who I had never met- in Bayamon, which is known for its Chicharron (Pork Cracklins). my mom, brother, and sister moved to Reading, Pa 2 years later, the rest of the family joined me on the island. We settled in Comerio, a mountain village town our extended family is from. Now, you can imagine the culture shock. Coming from the states, I didn't appreciate the opportunity at the time. Now, as I get older, I look back on what an amazing experience it was. I got to pick fresh beans on the side of mountains and cut sugar cane; I've picked plantains and mangoes, learned how to catch chickens and prepare them for dinner, I have lived in a house where the trash had to be burned and had a latrine, as well as fincas filled with tropical fruits and vegetables, and it had a small creek that ran right through the property where you could catch bruquenas (fresh water crabs), but the thing I remember most was Navidad (Christmas). What an amazing time of the year in Puerto Rico.

 We would gather with a few neighbors and have theses unforgettable "parrandas" or "trullas navideñas". A parranda is when a small group of friends gathers together to "asaltar" It's the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling. Most of all the neighbors would play some sort of instrument, either guitarras, güiro maracas, or palitos. 

The party goes on for an hour or two then everyone, including the owners of the house, leave to parrandear some more. The group grows as they offer their parranda at several houses during that night. At the last house probably around 3 or 4 in the morning the homeowner offers the traditional chicken soup or asopao de pollo. The party is over at dawn. 

The other part is the food OMG!! The Food Traditional Puerto Rican Christmas foods such as pasteles, lechón asado, arroz con dulce, tembleque, and coquito give Puerto Ricans a separate identity from the rest of the world . Join Sofrito this holiday season and enjoy the food #tusabes 

Local First What it means to me

Mon Apr 2015

 In 2011 I had the opportunity to make my dream become a reality.  I knew that in order for my restaurant and bar to succeeded I had to be unique because we are located in a residential neighborhood with minimal parking.  And so the journey began.  My first step was to sell all of our freezers to insure that everything we make is fresh. We shop 7 days a week from local vendors to provide our customers with the freshest food possible.  It is our localfirst movement that I am most proud of.  We could buy cheaper from national distributors and make more money but money is only part of the equation.  It's more about supporting local businesses.  Businesses that have been around for decades that, employ local residents, and contribute to the local economy. Shopping locally means less corporate infrastructure, and more tax money left available to enhance our community. Spending locally ensures that my tax dollars are reinvested where they belong- right here in our community! Localfirst is a trend that I believe needs to become a pilar of the redevelopment of the City of Reading. As redevelopment starts to gear up we need to adopt localfirst policy's to promote the local economy. By identifying local purchasing, contracting and hiring opportunities we could encourage local business enterprises to make bids and proposals for city contracts, and promote the local hiring of Reading residents.  We also must begin encouraging local residents and businesses to shop and support each other to aid in our local redevelopment.  This is a movement growing in communities across the nation. Building strong local economies is really just a return to something that has worked for people in the past.  By supporting local and independent businesses with our dollars, they support us with their community partnership. #toma #localfirst 


What is Sofrito?

Fri Apr 2015

     I get asked a lot "what is Sofrito?" and "why did you name your restaurant Sofrito?"  I named my restaurant Sofrito  because it's one of my earliest memories of cooking with my family. While making Sofrito we would sit around the table taking turns peeling garlic, removing the seeds out of the aji dulce peppers, chopping culantro,  simmering annatto seeds in oil, (or lard like my great grandmother use to make it...Don't worry we don't use lard in ours.) All of these amazing ingredients then would simmer on the stove and then a quick purée and there you have it - Sofrito! The first thing that goes in the olla (pot) as you start to lightly sauté and out comes the flavors and the smell in the air is amazing! It is used on beans, rice, meats, sauces, dips, and as a topping on fish. I have made Sofrito butter for prime rib. I pretty much use it in everything. Depending on what part of Latin America you are from the color of Sofrito changes from green to orange to bright red. It can also be spicy or mild. I guarantee everyone's family makes it different. The two main ingredients that give Puerto Rican sofrito its flavor are recao (culantro) and ají dulce, but cubanelle peppers, red pepper, yellow onions, garlic, and cilantro are also added. Sofrito is cooked with olive oil or annatto oil, tocino (bacon), salted pork, and cured ham. A mix of stuffed olives and capers called alcaparrado is usually added with spices such as oregano, cumin, salt, and coriander.  This recipe over the years has been changed to accommodate the non pork eaters.  Our Version does not have any pork products and we will be sharing a great recipe for making  Sofrito!  #toma #tusabes

One Large Red Bell Pepper.
One Large Yellow Onion
14 Aji dulce
1 head of garlic (roasted)
1/4 cup PITTED Alcaparrado ( mix of capers and olives )
1/2 cup Achiote  Oil
20 Recao Leaves – One Large Red Bell Pepper.
One Large Yellow Onion
14 Aji dulce
1 head of garlic (roasted)
1/4 cup PITTED Alcaparrado ( mix of capers and olives )
1/2 cup Achiote  Oil
20 Recao Leaves – Some people call this culantro. Can typically be found in C - Town
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 tbsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tsp  Toasted Coriander Seeds
1.5 tbsp  Salt
 juice of one lemon.

One of the most important steps of making Sofrito is roasting the vegetables. As generations go by and get lazier this all important step has been forgotten (my self included). Once all your vegetables have been roasted and simmered you are ready to purée it in your food processor or go old school and use a Pilon  (mortar and pestle) slowly adding the Achiote oil. The oil is made by cooking annatto seeds till it reaches a vibrant red color, once you mix all your ingredients it should look like this And No, Traditional Sofrito Does Not Have Green Peppers Or Tomatoes... I Don't Care What Food Network Says