Philadelphia: Mexican Restaurant Guide

Philadelphia: Mexican Restaurant Guide

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Mexican cuisine is primarily a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, especially Spanish, elements added after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. Philly has a lot of great Mexican inspired restaurants to try, list below are a few of the City's Best places for Latino Cuisine.

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Philly's Mexican Restaurant Guide:

  • At the 12th Street Cantina in Reading Terminal Market, shoppers can dig into a plate of freshly made tortas, burritos, enchiladas, ensaladas and other menu items or stock up on all the fixings to whip up a traditional Mexican meal at home. 1136 Arch Street, (215) 625-0321, readingterminalmarket.org
  • One of the first places to make the neighborhood around East Passyunk Avenue a must-visit (and must-taste) destination, Cantina Los Caballitos draws crowds in search of craft beer, tequila flights and all sorts of flavored margaritas. Regulars often go for the slow-cooked goat with pickled red onions and vegan fajitas. 1651 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 755-3550, cantinaloscaballitos.com
  • Chef Jose Garces’ University City outpost has been transformed into Distrito Taqueria, a casual eatery serving up a menu inspired by Mexico City’s street food scene. In addition to the must-have guacamole, diners can’t wait to dive into plates of burritos, tacos and quesadillas made with ground beef, al pastor, chicken, tofu chorizo, sirloin and more. 3945 Chestnut Street, (215) 222-1657, philadelphia.distritorestaurant.com
  • Like its Passyunk Avenue sibling Cantina Los Caballitos, the Dos Segundos Cantina in Northern Liberties serves creative Mexican fare such as vegan “beef” tacos (made with seitan) and slow-cooked goat, plus endless chips and salsa, flights of tequila, 20 different fruit and specialty margaritas and a fiesta-like atmosphere. 931 N. 2nd Street, (215) 629-0500, cantinadossegundos.com
  • The Super Torta, a smorgasbord of a sandwich that includes carnitas, fried egg with chorizo, ham, pork al pastor, head cheese, breaded steak, quesillo, pineapple, avocado, refried beans, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo on Mexican bread, is for El Jarocho’s hearty eaters only. Those with smaller appetites can feast on fish tacos, tostados, burritos and other authentic cuisine at this South Philadelphia bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot. 1138 S. 13th Street, (215) 463-2205
  • Restaurateur Stephen Starr has added his distinctive modern flair to traditional south of the border cuisine at El Rey, a Mexican-inspired diner that offers flavor-rich brunch, lunch and dinner items, as well as an impressive selection of tequilas and mezcals. 2013 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-3330, elreyrestaurant.com
  • Combining traditional Mexican comestibles with updated flavors, the El Vez menu features tasty dishes such as tuna tostadas, crispy mahi mahi tacos and pasilla braised pork—the perfect accompaniments to yummy margaritas. 121 S. 13th Street, (215) 928-9800, elvezrestaurant.com
  • While there are still dozens of Old World merchants selling farm-picked produce, meats, fish, poultry, spices and cheeses in the Italian Market, the nation’s oldest outdoor market has kept up with changing times. The influx of Mexican vendors, taquerias and bodegas has added diverse flavors to shoppers’ baskets, making it is as easy to find jicama and other Mexican produce and food items as it is to order traditional Italian treats. Folks line up early for the only-available-on-weekends tamales at Mole Poblano, and the homemade chorizo at Los Amigos Food Market is a favorite among cooks who want authentic flavors. 9th Street between Federal & Fitzwater Streets, italianmarketphilly.org
  • Quick with tasty, authentic apps and entrees and even quicker with stiff margaritas, Las Bugambilias delights discerning diners with menu items from three different regions in Mexico, but their calling card is the seafood of Veracruz, chef Carlos Molina’s hometown.
    148 South Street, (215) 922-3190, lasbugambiliasphilly.com
    • From south of the border to North Philadelphia, Las Cazuelas satisfies patrons’ Mexican cravings. Philly native Alfredo Aquilar cooks up classic ceviche, popular mole poblano and much more at this popular BYOB spot. 426 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 351-9144, lascazuelas.net
  • The scent of fresh-baked pastries and cemitas (Mexican sandwich bread) mingled with the aroma of just-made Cuban coffee and tres leches lures in a steady stream of all ethnicities to Las Rosas Cafeteria Y Panderia. Smoothies, virgin mojitos and Italian breads round out the selection at this cozy neighborhood café. 1712 S. 8th Street, (215) 551-1027
  • When a food truck evolved into the brick-and-mortar South Philly Barbacoa, lovers of authentic Mexican lamb tacos rejoiced. Petite and vibrant, the business belongs to Chef Cristina Martinez, who recently began grinding her own masa for her tortillas. 1703 S. 11th Street, (215) 694-3767
  • People step off of 5th Street and into Mexico when they enter Taco Riendo. Hungry patrons indulge in traditional Mexican favorites such as burritos, quesadillas and tacos and sip on whatever they want—it is BYOB, after all. 1301 N. 5th Street, (215) 235-2294
  • Los Taquitos de Puebla sticks to its traditional Mexican taqueria roots by serving only tacos and quesadillas. With mouthwatering dishes like the popular tacos al pastor (pork tacos with pineapple), patrons don’t miss extras like beans and rice. 1149 S. 9th Street, (215) 334-0664
  • It’s all in the name at Tequilas. The beautifully decorated, upscale Mexican restaurant keeps dozens of fine sipping tequilas on hand to complement the expertly prepared, authentic Mexican cuisine. 1602 Locust Street, (215) 251-5152, tequilasphilly.com
  • Tortillas don’t come any fresher than at Tortilleria San Roman, where they’re made while you wait using the same tortilla-making machines found on the streets of Mexico. Their salsas and pico de gallo are infused with traditional spices and the freshly made chips are so flavorful and crunchy, loyal fans travel across town to get their fill. 951 S. 9th Street, (267) 507-9161
  • After years of careful crafting and exploring the techniques of Oaxacan mezcaleros (distillers), the team at Dock Street Spirits has launched Vicio Mezcal, their artisanal take on what has been called the purest spirit on earth. Visitors to sister company Dock Street Brewery can provide information about the drink, though it’s not sold there. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 726-2337, dockstreetspirits.com
  • A cozy Mexican restaurant that boasts a full bar and intimate 30-seat dining room, Xochitl dishes a wide range of modern Mexican flavors—from crab ceviche and short-rib tamale to carnitas and a 24-hour-brined pollo frito. 408 S. 2nd Street, (215) 238-7280, xochitlphilly.com
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