From South Philly taquerias to panaderias executing expert regional specialties, Philly's Mexican scene has come a long way over the past decade. So, while we might be missing 24-hour SoCal taco spots, there are plenty of great options for tequila cocktails, magnificent moles and top tier tortillas.
This 13th Street New Mexican favorite takes full advantage of a well-stocked tequila bar with a rainbow-hued menu of margaritas. No triple sec here — a sweet-tart blend of fresh orange and lime juice is used to mix up summertime flavors like passion fruit, blood orange and cucumber margaritas (pictured above).
106 S. 13th St.; 215-546-7100
Antojitos: Blue Corn
Translating to “little cravings,” this Italian Market sleeper hit is home to the best apps in the city. Avocado-topped coctel de camarones (pictured above) or the fundacionolmeca with pibil sopecitos, tlacoyos and chalupas are both great ways to get started.
940 S. Ninth St.; 215-925-1010
Jose Garces’ University City cantina has mastered the art of the perfect nachos (pictured above). Served on a sizzling metal plate, meal-sized nachos are piled high with refried beans, queso, crema, chiles de arbol, plenty of skirt steak and micro cilantro.
3945 Chestnut St.; 215-222-1657
Tortillas: Tortilleria San Roman
Planning a taco party? This Italian Market tortilleria is a must for freshly made blue and white corn tortillas, pillowcase-sized bags of chips and pints of pico de gallo and guac.
951 S. Ninth St.; 267-507-9161
Tacos: Loco Pez
Lucio Palazzo took over this Fishtown favorite and has been perfecting specials like Korean-inspired pigs ear tacos and tortillas topped with halibut and ramps. Of course, the more traditional offerings are also stellar (think: SoCal classics like chorizo and potato and namesake pez, pictured above).
2401 E. Norris St.; 267-886-8061
Platos Fuertes: Las Bugambilias
When it comes to serious mains, this South Street stalwart brings authentic flavors to the table. Mar y Tierra in Molcajete is an impressive take on surf 'n' turf served in a stoneware bowl with nopales, queso panela and grilled tomato salsa.
148 South St.; 215-922-3190
Tortas: South Philly Barbacoa
This tacos and consommé-only operation (pictured at top) recently introduced weekday tortas. Served on house-baked bolillo rolls, the overstuffed sandwiches are only available Tuesday through Thursday from 7 AM–2 PM.
1703 S. 11th St.; 215-694-3797
Guacamole: El Vez
Stephen Starr’s Midtown Village Mexican corner is always packed due in no small part to their impressive guacamole service (pictured above). Go with the original or explore new takes on the classic with mango and jicama, roasted garlic and basil or spicy crab with salsa roja.
121 S. 13th St.; 215-928-9800
Ceviche: La Calaca Feliz
Whether you’re going with the traditional shrimp ceviche with tomatoes and avocados or hiramasa (pictured below) with jalapeño and honeydew vinaigrette, the Fairmount outpost from the Feliz family treats fresh fish right.
2321 Fairmount Ave.; 215-787-9930
Tamales: Los Gallos
They're not always on the menu, but the handmade tamales at this South Philly taqueria go fast on the weekends. Grab a few fresh from the steamer filled with braised pork and a deeply spiced mole.
951 Wolf St.; 215-551-1245