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Must-Try Mexican Food in Philly

From tostadas to fajitas, here’s where to eat Mexican food in the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia, luckily, is full of Mexican restaurants! Our city is known for its diversity, which leads to incredible, authentic cuisine. This list features incredible chefs, including the incredible Cristina Martinez, owner of South Philly Barbacoa, and Dionicio Jimenez, the head chef at El Rey.

There’s no better time to support local businesses. You’ll try nopales, a type of Opuntia cacti (that’s full of antioxidants) at South Philly Barbacoa.  You’ll savor Chocolate Oaxaca, a classic Mexican hot chocolate topped with cinnamon at Cafe y Chocolate. You’ll devour the famous rotisserie chicken at Cafe Ynez. 

friends sharing mexican food in philadelphia

Along with some trendy, well-known spots, I made sure to include some under-rated gems, in the spirit of supporting small business and uplifting communities of color. Here’s to a city full of brotherly love and good food!

Best Mexican Restaurants in Philadelphia

  1. South Philly Barbacoa
  2. El Vez
  3. Cantina Dos Segundos
  4. Taqueria Amor
  5. Café y Chocolate
  6. Tio Flores
  7. La Calaca Feliz
  8. El Jarocho
  9. Lolita
  10. Jose Pistolas
  11. Adelita
  12. Tequilas Restaurant
  13. Cafe Ynez
  14. El Rey
  15. El Purepecha
  16. Juno

South Philly Barbacoa

1140 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (215) 694-3797

“Through food we can educate and change the heart”, says Cristina Martinez, the force behind South Philly Barbacoa. Martinez came to this country with the dream of opening her own restaurant. She started off selling lamb tacos out of her home, then opened up a food truck, and finally got a brick and mortar store in South Philly. At her restaurant, she and her staff spend hours dethorning cactus pads to cook nopales, a healthy dish made from cactus. Their meat marinades for hours in a citrus sauce before being served to customers on homemade tortillas. 

Martinez was a finalist for the Basque Culinary World Prize and her restaurant was listed as one of America’s Best new Restaurants by Bon Appetit. Try it yourself, from 5am-3pm on weekends.  In addition to bridging authentic Mexican recipes and traditions to the city, she is also an activist who fights for the rights of marginalized groups. . 


El Vez

121 S. 13th Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone:  (215) 928-9800
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This Midtown Village restaurant is one of Steven Starr’s many offerings to the Philly community. You can’t miss the spinning low-rider bike in the middle of the dining room! The trendy and colorful spot is perfect for grabbing cocktails with friends, as the bar is equipped with one of the largest tequila selections in the city.  

Menu highlights include tuna tostadas, five varieties of guacamole, short rib enchiladas, and a vegan tofu el pastor burrito with pineapple-habanero salsa. You can also make your own tacos, complete with queso fresco, four tortillas, rajas, and pico de gallo. El Vez usually participates in Center City Restaurant Week, so look out for discounts once restaurant week comes back to Philly!


Cantina Dos Segundos

931 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia PA 19123
Phone: (215) 629-0500
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Dos Segundos serves up modern Mexican cuisine in a hip atmosphere. They also boast about having “one of the most extensive tequila and mezcal collections” in the country. This neighborhood restaurant is located in Northern Liberties, an up-and-coming area of Philly that overflows with new restaurants. 

Vegan? This is your new happy place. Almost every dish can be made with grilled seitan in BBQ sauce of vegan ground beef.. You can also try specifically vegan dishes, like the Vegan Quesadilla, Vegan Empanadas, Vegan Mushroom Bulgogi Flautas, and more! Meat eaters, don’t despair. You can have cabrito (goat), pork, chicken, garlic shrimp, and more. 


Taqueria Amor

4410 Main St. Philadelphia, PA  19127
Phone: (267) 331 5874
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Taqueria Amor absolutely won the award for most colorful outdoor dining setup this year. If you want to dine outside, do it in one of their cute rainbow booths. Chefs Angelica Hernandez and Guillermo Pozos serve up classic fare mixed with some surprises, like a Korean BBQ Broccoli taco. I’m a fan of their spiked cider and spicy shrimp taco with habanero cream. Yummm. 

Have kids? Taqueria Amor offers a full Kds Menu, including a mac and cheese taco, which I kind of want to try now. Your little one can even order a virgin margarita. Never too early to learn that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, right? 


Café y Chocolate

Address: 1532 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145
Phone: (267) 639-4506
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Cute, authentic, family-owned cafe alert! At this Point Breeze spot, satisfy your sweet tooth, try something savory, or do both! Start with a house special like the Tamal Azteca (broiled chicken tamal casserole covered with homemade green sauce, sour cream, Chihuahua cheese, poblano rajas, and queso fresco. Served with Mexican rice and black beans.) Or go out and try their breakfast menu, featuring fresh squeezed juices. 

Cafe y Chocolate obviously excels when it comes to desserts. Choose between homemade flan, tres leches cake, churros filled with caramel, or plantains with cream. Save room for a classic Mexican hot chocolate, complete with spices and cinnamon on top! 


Tio Flores 

1600 South Street, Philadelphia PA 19146
Phone: (267) 687-2220
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With colorful murals on the walls, Instagram-worthy decor, and daily specials, this is a fun place to check out! Tio Flores offer $1 tacos on Mondays, special offers on Takeout Tuesdays, and discount prices for late night orders.

Definitely go during Happy Hour in order to snag $3 chips and salsa, $6 nachos, $3 frostie drafts, and cocktails starting at $6. Such a deal! Bring your Pooroid to take full advantage of this trendy little spot. Don’t miss out on their Tecate Battered Street Corn with cotija cheese, chipotle aioli, and sriracha honey. 


La Calaca Feliz

2321 Fairmount Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: (215) 787-9930
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Craig Laban said it best when he wrote, “Calaca has helped push the dial forward a few more clicks on the evolution of contemporary Mexican cooking in this town”. This Fairmount restaurant offers up modern rendition of classic dishes and prides itself on using the highest-quality ingredients possible. 

Brunch-lover? Choose from more traditional offerings like carnitas tacos, to more Americanized options like avocado toast. For a boozy kick, try the Bloody Maria, a ”valentina spiced” take on the classic Bloody Mary. There’s also a long drink menu with a lot of different tequilas. 


El Jarocho

1138 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (215) 463-2020
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You’re in South Philly. You want a Mexican coke and a huge amount of chorizo. Where should you go? El Jarocho! This underrated gem is a favorite with locals because of its authentic cuisine, cozy vibe, and array of Mexican sodas, including Sangrita, Boing, and a variety of Jarritos flavors. 

Reviewers recommend trying the al pastor tacos, homemade chips with freshly made sauces, and huge enchiladas. Get the carne asada, made in a spiced garlic marinade. Although El Jaracho is available on delivery  apps, go in person for a comp;imentary basket of tortilla chips. 


Lolita

106 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 546-7100
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If you’re a Philadelphia local, you’ve likely seen the bustling outdoor dining scene on 13th Street. Lolita is one of those popular spots, offering outdoor dining and pitchers of drinks. Centrally located, Lolita is easy to get to from the Broad Street Line. Their menu is based on Mexican street food, so look out for the street corn and crispy Mahi-Mahi tacos. My friends recommend the veggie nachos with kale and charred broccoli. 

The must-have drink here is the pitcher of blood orange margaritas. Definitely go during Happy Hour (4-6 on Weds-Sun) for $5 chips and salsa, $7 Cholula fried chicken tacos, and $8 agua fresca. 


Jose Pistolas

263 S 15th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 545-4101
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This bar is my favorite place to get guac, since they have mango and pomegranate guacamole! It’s such a good combo, especially for spring. I’ve also gone there for margaritas, and my favorite is the pomegranate marg. I also recommend the shrimp tempura tacos. 

If you want nachos with “really expensive cheese”, Jose Pistola’s has that on the menu, Literally. (This menu cracks me up- the listing for the chicken wings says, “chickens can’t fly, so we borrow their wings”.) The flan is described as “caramel custard made by someone who loves you”. This place also has a large menu of craft beers, as well as cocktails. Go during Happy Hour from 4-6, Monday through Friday!


Adelita

1108 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone: (215) 334-1002
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This charming, family-opened spot in the Italian Market specializes in dishes from Mexico City (where owner Andres Hernandes grew up) and Puebla (where he was born). The most popular Mexico City dish is the wide array of tacos offered. The Puebla inspiration appears in the popular Mole Enchiladas. Andre’s father, Chef Encarnacion Hernandez uses pasilla chiles alongside nuts, chocolate, raisins, garlic, cinnamon and other spices to create the rich flavor. 

Adelita is named after a brave Mexican woman who fought in the Mexican Revolution. The name honors the contributions of the women in this family. Hernadez says that his restaurant reminds him of his grandmother’s house. Head to South Philly and try the Hernadez family’s home cooking! Pro tip: the huge taco dishes are discounted on Tuesdays and Thursdays!


Tequilas Restaurant

1602 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 546-0181
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Complimentary chips and salsa? Don’t mind if I do! Tequilas opened in 1986 by David and Annette Suro,  respectively from Guadalajara and Cancun. Their mission: to dispel misunderstandings about Mexican Culture. The murals on the walls are created by artist Clemente Orozco Farias, and feature images of traditional skeletons. Tequilas is located in the lovely Rittenhouse area and has a cute outdoor set-up. 

Menu highlights include Molcajete $25.95, a “heated lava bowl” with a roasted tomato, garlic, tomatillo and arbol chilis, grilled chicken, onions and melted cheese. ¡Que rico!


Cafe Ynez

2025 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19146
Phone: (215) 278-7579
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Cafe Ynez’s executive chef Hilario Hernandez creates dishes inspired by Mexico City, his hometown. 

Looking for the best vegetarian taco of your life? Try the veggie taco from Cafe Ynez, stuffed with fresh vegetables and quinoa,served  with sour cream and salsa. 

Don’t miss this amazing deal:  ½ roasted rotisserie chicken with two sides for just $15! You can also opt for loaded quesadillas with spinach, garlic, corn, poblano & red peppers, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese, served with lettuce, pico, sour cream, & cotija. 


El Rey

2013 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 563-3330
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This Steven Starr cantina was inspired by “Home-style cuisine from Puebla to Veracruz”. The outside resembles a road-side diner while the inside has eclectic decor, complete with folk art and movie posters. 

The location is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, a few minutes from Rittenhouse Square. Try the Tumbada (Veracruz-style paella, epazote-scented rice, chicken, chorizo, shrimp, squid, fish, achiote chimichurri) for dinner or get the Tres Leches French Toast for a brunch treat. 

Check out their Happy Hour (4-5 from Sunday-Thursday) for $6 margs, $4 tecate cans, and $2 off all tacos!


El Purepecha

315 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 765-2369

Ever had a “Wet Burrito”? El Purepecha serves huge, stuffed burritos on top of your choice of sauce. According to Philly locals, these are a must-try. Also noteworthy:  the baja fish tacos and chorizo tacos. 

Look out for daily specials, like lobster enchiladas or birria tacos!

This neighborhood place is on the small side, so nab a table when you can! You can also order from them on GrubHub, UberEats, and Seamless, if you want to enjoy your burrito from the comfort of your own couch. 


Juno

1033 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: (267) 639-2892
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Last but not least is Juno, a new trendy outdoor bar/restaurant in Spring Garden. This place has the ambiance of a colorful garden aptio, with plants all over, a large neon sign, and twinkle lights.

My favorite drink here is the frosé! It’s refreshing, strong, and perfect for a summer day. If you come with friends, you can order a wheelbarrow full of drinks. You read that correctly- a wheelbarrow! (For smaller parties, it can be downsized to a bucket full of drinks). 

Try the chorizo con papas tacos, with spicy chorizo, potatoes, salsa morita, and cilantro. Just be aware that Juno is for those over 21+, so leave your kiddos at home with a babysitter. 


Final Thoughts

Philly has tons of options for Mexican food, from small authentic spots to big, trendy tequila bars. Eating at one of the family-owned restaurants on this list is a great way to support a small business! 

Want to keep the party rolling after Taco Tuesday? Check out our article on the best beer gardens in Philly to find the best beer/wine/cocktail experience for you and your friends.

Do you have a favorite Mexican place that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by Becca Neckritz

Rebecca Neckritz is a Philly foodie and co-creator of Philly Food Ladies. She is currently a senior at Temple University, studying Advertising and Acting. Becca likes baking muffins, taking photos of brunch, and teaching theater to kids. Follow her foodie adventures on @phillyfoodladies.