Philadelphia, PA - A Cheerful spot specializing in Mexican tortas on house-baked bread with fresh juices. Funky, sophisticated and fun, El Vez proves to be one of the area’s best Mexican restaurants. Located on a hot corner in the burgeoning B3 neighborhood (Blocks Below Broad), El Vez, named after the Mexican Elvis, serves lunch and dinner.
The décor is bright and festive — a custom made, jewel-lined gold motorcycle hangs above the bar; guacamole-making carts move from table to table; and bright purple plush upholstery lines circular banquette tables.
The fare is creative Mexican and El Vez is a great place for sharing a bunch of dishes with your table. Starting with the guacamole is pretty much a must — it’s prepared tableside immediately upon ordering. Another good bet is the salsa sampler which lets choose among the several varieties ranging from a spicy tuna with Pineapple, habaneros, tomatillo and orange to a melted Manchego with sweet onions.
Chef Cristina Martinez - Originally from Toluca, Mexico, where lamb barbacoa is a way of life, Martinez serves her family’s signature tacos with a rich consommé made from the drippings of the slow-roasted meat on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, made-from-scratch tortas satisfy her hungry patrons. Martinez, who started out preparing barbacoa into her apartment before expanding to a street cart and eventually a brick-and-mortar shop, has plenty of Philly fans, but the country has taken notice. Bon Appétit named South Philly Barbacoa, her first establishment, one of the best new restaurants in America in 2016. In 2017, she merged the spot with sibling restaurant El Compadre. Along with her American-born husband and partner, Ben Miller, Martinez is an outspoken advocate for undocumented workers in America. El Compadre, 1149 S. 9th Street, (267) 746-7658.