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A Wave Of Authentic Taquerias & Roving Trucks Make Philly A Bona Fide Taco Town
South Philly Leads The City’s Taco Craze
Little by little, Philly’s turned into a bona fide taco town. Between the mom-and-pop taquerias of South Philly, tried-and-true tequila bars, a roving pack of lunch trucks and the newest crop of gringo-owned joints, there’s truly a taco for everyone and their hermano. Here’s where the hungry masses can get their tacos on:
- Fishtown’s divey Loco Pez found its inspiration in L.A.’s fusion-y taco trucks, and the result is a mix-and-match selection of fun—and sometimes unexpected—flavors. Classic preparations like al pastor and cochinita pibil share menu space with unconventional choices, like vegan-friendly seitan and spinach, and soy chorizo. 2401 E. Norris Street, (267) 886-8061, locopez.com
- Siblings to Fort Washington’s Cantina Feliz and Fairmount’s La Calaca Feliz, the Taqueria Feliz outposts in Manayunk and Horsham mix up traditional tacos (carnitas, al suadero) with new-school styles (cauliflower and nopales), as well as a short list of funky organ meat and insect varieties. Cantina Feliz, 424 S. Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, (215) 646-1320, cantinafeliz.com; La Calaca Feliz, 2321 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 787-9930, lacalacafeliz.com; Taqueria Feliz, 4410 Main Street, (267) 331-5874; 303 Horsham Road, Horsham, (215) 323-4530, taqueriafeliz.com
- Honest Tom’s Taco Shop started as a popular food truck that evolved into a brick-and-mortar West Philly restaurant serving up Mexican fare in a casual eat-in cafe. Breakfast tacos overflowing with bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, fresh guacamole and killer homemade hot sauce draw crowds from all over the city. 261 S. 44th Street, (215) 620-1851
- With locations in Manayunk and Flourtown, chef Nick Farina’s Union Taco serves up tortillas stuffed with chef-ly fillings. Options include pork carnitas with chipotle barbecue sauce and Spanish mahón cheese, plus a veggie-centric wild mushroom taco with goat cheese, greens and corn-and-black bean salsa. 4229 Main Street, (267) 766-6193; 1666 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, (215) 383-1100, uniontacos.com
- The owners of the popular Street Food Philly truck have put down roots with Revolution Taco, located just off Rittenhouse Square. “Tacos without borders” is the motto here, exemplified by global spins like curried cauliflower and roasted duck served on a scallion pancake. 2015 Walnut Street, (267) 639-5681, therevolutiontaco.com
- Fun-loving fusion is the approach at Center City’s small and vibrant Dos Tacos, which mixes the classic (chipotle-braised chicken, crispy fried mahi-mahi) with the completely unconventional (chili-rubbed pastrami, Korean-tinged pork belly). 120 S. 15th Street, (215) 567-8226, dostacosphilly.com
- Known for fish tacos and island flavors, the Main Line’s Pipeline Tacos has become a fave among families and foodies for its fresh approach to tacos and smoothies. 165 E. Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, (610) 225-TACO, pipelinetaco.com
- Tia-inspired tortillas get stuffed with carnitas, roasted veggies, chorizo and more at Bucks County’s Sabrosa Taqueria. Same ingredients can get layered into clever taco pints, which are like a bowl, but in a… pint. 34 E. State Street, Doylestown, sabrosataqueria.com
- Philly Tacos offers a gigantic menu of tacos of all textures and regional styles—grilled smoked pork chop, steak with Chihuahua cheese and al pastor. For the adventurous, beef eye and tripe make up some of the more daring taco options. The owners also vend at the popular Headhouse Square Farmers Market, held on Sundays at 2nd and Lombard Streets. 2011 Reed Street, (267) 819-9406, phillytacos.com
- Should taco cravings take a turn for the burrito, or even, say, the sizzling fajita salad, El Zarape delivers. In addition to reputable fried fish and chorizo tacos, the restaurant offers a full menu of Tex-Mex classics. 1301 S. 9th Street, (215) 336-1293, elzarapephiladelphia.com
- Everyone has a favorite neighborhood taco joint, and for many, El Jarocho is it. The bare-bones storefront slings memorably flavorful al pastor and nopales-tangled carne asada. Diners eat in to enjoy their signature chipotle dipping sauce, which goes great with fresh salsas and tortilla chips. 1138 S. 13th Street, (215) 463-2020
- The original authentic South Philly taqueria, Veracruzana has paved the way for countless others with its super-cheap (3 for $6) dishes of simple soft tortilla-wrapped delicacies, such as stewed bistec, grilled shrimp and cheese-stuffed jalapenos. 908 Washington Avenue, (215) 465-1440
- North of Market Street, Taco Riendo satiates the Mexican-craving masses. The Old Kensington spot boasts a cozy interior, excellent tamales and generously filled tacos such as the cheese-dusted, green- and red-salsa-draped chicken and the onion-flecked lengua. 1301 N. 5th Street, (215) 235-2294
- At South Philly storefront Los Gallos, colorful flags wave overhead, friendly service beckons and platters heave with generous, exceedingly fresh tacos, available in combinations of grilled and roasted meats, fragrant huitlacoche and spicy beef and chorizo. 951 Wolf Street, (215) 551-1251, losgallosmexicantaqueria.com
- The easily overlooked El Purepecha Mexican Kitchen occupies an unassuming corner in Philadelphia’s Callowhill neighborhood (also called the Loft District), but this taqueria doesn’t disappoint, with fillings such as crispy breaded fish and grilled shrimp, plus extensive sopes, tortas and platos selections. 469 N. 10th Street, (215) 765-2369
- El Limon has grown from grocery-store taco operation to suburban mini chain known for tortillas that are soft enough to sleep on. They’re filled with traditional meats and combinations thereof. 38 E. Butler Avenue, Ambler, (267) 460-8949; 61 W. Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, (484) 413-2999; 845 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, (484) 222-6929; 103 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, (610) 567-0120; 446 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern, (484) 329-7969 ellimontaqueria.com
- The colorful platters at Kennett Square’s La Peña Mexicana include homemade salsas, radish slices, golden rice and refried beans. Of course, the main event is the tacos. 609 W. Cypress Street, Kennett Square, (610) 925-2651
- Tucked in along Snyder Avenue, the one-table Taqueria La Mexicanita sates late-night longings for longaniza (long sausage) or cecina (salted beef steak) in its three-fer plates. Bonus: The grill is open until 2:00 a.m. to accommodate post-bar takeaway. 1148 Snyder Avenue, (215) 858-4587
- A weekend-only operation, the friendly, mosaic-covered South Philly Barbacoa serves incredible barbacoa and pancita tacos on fresh-pressed tortillas, plus soulful consommé (soup) made from the drippings of authentic roasted lamb. In 2016, Bon Appétit declared this spot one of the best new restaurants in the country. 1703 S. 11th Street, (215) 360-5282, southphillybarbacoa.com
- El Vez’s cross-town cousin, El Rey, is set in an old diner and serves up lamb and portobello tacos and chile relleno alongside micheladas (beer, spices and lime). Tacos are also available in the speakeasy Ranstead Room, located in the back. 2013 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-3330, elreyrestaurant.com
- Both the food and beverage choices are extensive at Center City hang Jose Pistola’s. Among the taco options at this Mexified craft beer bar are Korean-style short rib with Asian pear pico de gallo and tempura-battered rock shrimp with pepitas and tom yum aioli. Jose’s Fishtown-based hermano, Sancho Pistola’s, offers a similar selection to hungry locals hanging out along Frankford Avenue. 263 S. 15th Street, (215) 545-4101, josepistolas.com; 19 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 324-3530, sanchopistolas.com
- Jose Garces’ Distrito offers a glimpse of Mexico City in University City. The high-end tacos feature Kobe beef, adobo-braised lamb or mahi-mahi with avocado; the tequilas are plentiful; and the décor is tastefully kitschy (a vintage VW Beetle converted into a booth, for example). 3945 Chestnut Street, (215) 222-1657, distritorestaurant.com
- A hopping see-and-be-seen spot in Center City from the owners of the landmark Oyster House, Mission Taqueria balances tradition and innovation, slinging skirt steak and chicken mole tacos alongside fancier riffs, like veal tongue with braised cabbage. The busy bar serves stirred, shaken and frozen cocktails. 1516 Sansom Street, 2nd Floor, (215) 383-1200, missiontaqueria.com
- Holding down the west side of South Street, Tio Flores, from the prolific owners of Hawthornes Cafe and The Cambridge, satisfies taco cravings from happy hour through to late night. Menu highlights include tacos topped with interesting flavor combos, like butternut squash-chorizo and lentil-cauliflower. 1600 South Street, (267) 687-2220, tioflores.com
- Returning tacos to their street-eat roots, University City truck Tacos Don Memo serves them up in foil-wrapped threes, bursting with saucy flavor, crisp onion and lots of cilantro. 38th Street between Locust & Spruce Streets, (610) 529-2039
- Like taqueria on wheels, Taco Loco has it all—the red, white and green motif; Jarritos; tortas; and simple but punchy al suadero, tripe and choriqueso tacos. The only difference? This kitchen comes and goes. Jefferson Square Park, 4th Street & Washington Avenue, (215) 883-9191
- The Diego Rivera-esque murals on the side of the Tacos El Rodeo truck are a giveaway. This mobile operation isn’t messing around. Of special note are the spit-roasted pork and variety meat tacos served with salsa on the side. 1000 Washington Avenue
- Adorable, alfresco Taco Angeleno serves spot-on renditions of fresh L.A. street food (tacos and smoothies) in a once abandoned, now flowering and twinkling with lights, open lot in West Philly. Chef-owner Vanessa Jerolmack fills tortillas with pork, chicken and seitan—Thursday through Sunday, spring through fall. 5019 Baltimore Avenue, @tacoangeleno
- Not exactly a moving vehicle per se, the Blue Route Taco Truck on the roof of Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting turns out some tasty fish, pork and veggie tacos (when open—hours are seasonal) and offers craft canned beer along with them. 500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, (610) 832-0010
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. Visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
25 Things To Know About Philly's Food Scene
Philadelphia food is so much more than the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel, or even scrapple, or roast pork sandwiches. It’s also amazing vegan fare, quirky BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants, world-class craft local beer, emerging distillery scene, or chef-driven concepts and passion projects. Philly’s food scene is about neighborhoods that grow with their restaurants. And competing chefs who work together. It’s about sourcing ingredients from the region’s farms and giving casual dining its due. It’s about embracing delicious diversity.
Here is a primer of 25 lesser-known components of Philly’s lush and luscious food scene:
- Richly Rewarding Food Shed:
The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon
Despite decades of popularity and expansion, one quintessential Philadelphia dining phenomenon continues to fly deliciously under the radar. It’s the BYOB, the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant—BYO, for short. Typically independently owned and operated, Philly’s BYOBs number into the three hundreds. Diners find them on dozens of corners in Center City, along avenues of renewed urban neighborhoods and tucked down rural roads. It’s a curious trend with an interesting backstory—and an even more interesting present.
Here’s a short explanation of how the BYOB scene came to be—and advice on navigating the landscape.
What Is A BYOB?:
A BYOB restaurant allows patrons to
When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out
It’s a curious thing that a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge or the coursed and the home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have something for every palate, day or night.
Here’s a look at some
Cheesesteak 101: A Primer On The Who, What, Where And Whiz Of South Philly Cheesesteaks
Here in Philly, cheesesteaks are a civic icon, a tourist draw and a cultural obsession. Often imitated around the world, the cheesesteak is rarely duplicated successfully outside of Philadelphia. So what is an authentic cheesesteak and where did it come from? Here’s the lowdown on this region’s favorite sandwich.
What Is A Cheesesteak?:
A cheesesteak is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed rib-eye beef and melted cheese. Generally, the cheese of choice is Cheez Whiz®, but American and provolone are common substitutions. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures
Philly Pizza Pleases Every Palate
Philadelphia’s gained some serious pizza cred in recent years. Not only is this city home to a pizza museum and restaurant (Pizza Brain), an artisan pizza truck (Pitruco) and, according to Bon Appétit, America’s very best pizza (Pizzeria Beddia), but it’s also a proving ground for the idea that this traditional food can be reinvented in infinite ways. Whether it’s a straightforward but studious Neapolitan round, a floppy tri-corner slice with cheese to spare or a newfangled pie laden with unexpected but carefully sourced ingredients, there is absolutely a pizza for every eater’s predilection. Here’s...
Craft Distilleries Revive Pennsylvania's Pre-Prohibition Tradition
In just over four years, the number of craft distilleries in the Philadelphia region has increased by more than a dozen, helping to restore Pennsylvania to its once-prominent place in the national distilling conversation. Until Prohibition wiped out the state’s industry, Pennsylvania housed the country’s densest cluster of homespun and commercial whiskey producers, beginning with some of the country’s earliest settlers.
In 2011, Pennsylvania’s government passed reforms that allowed distillers to offer tours, samples and onsite sales. These new laws opened up the craft to would-be distillers who now proudly produce and sell small-batch spirits in Philadelphia. In a sign...
Beer Trail Highlights The Craft Brewing Tradition In Philadelphia, America's Best Beer-Drinking City
One hundred years ago, Philadelphia was known as the greatest brewing city in the Western Hemisphere, or the “Cradle of American Libation,” according to food critic Craig LaBan of The Philadelphia Inquirer. In fact, Philadelphia taverns were, arguably, the true birthplace of the American Revolution.
In the mid-19th through the early 20th centuries, more than 90 breweries operated in Philadelphia proper, and another 100 operated in the city’s environs. One area northwest of Philly, located on the banks of the Schuylkill River near the Girard Avenue Bridge, became known as Brewerytown. As Brewerytown grew, area producers of German-style...
Beer Gardens & Outdoor Drinking Spaces Bloom In Philly
There’s only one place for beer lovers to be this summer, and that’s Philadelphia, where beer gardens abound and where craft beer is king. In past years, the city earned countless awards and glowing reviews for its outdoor drinking spaces. This year, these warm-weather venues are back—better, bigger and more numerous than ever. Among the most attention-grabbing: Spruce Street Harbor Park, a bustling oasis celebrating its third year on the Delaware River, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Pop Up Gardens, located in two different spots this year, and the highly anticipated SkyGarten, an alfresco German beer hall 51 stories up.
Southern, Soul & Caribbean Food Satisfy Philly Diners
Nothing’s more satisfying than a plate of down-home eats, and thankfully, Philly’s dining scene is rich in catfish, jerk chicken and macaroni and cheese. Whether it’s a gourmet spin on turkey wings, a zesty bowl of jambalaya or a slice of sweet-potato pie, hearty goodness abounds at the region’s soul, southern, Cajun, Cuban and Caribbean eateries. Caribbean Cuisine Week (April 13-15, 2016) celebrates island flavors while raising funds for 700 high school athletes from Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent, the Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago participating in the Penn Relays.
Here’s a look of some of the mouthwatering delights sure to...