Food & Drink

Everywhere in the 215 to celebrate not-Mexican independence

Published On 04/28/2013 Published On 04/28/2013

While useless trivia like "Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16th and has absolutely nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo" will just have people thinking you're lame and boring, invaluable knowledge like where to find the best guac, margaritas, tequila, and waitresses will have them so impressed they won't even mind when you regale them with stories of the Battle of Puebla. Best Margaritas Lolita 106 S 13th St; 215.546.7100 Hit up the state store (or, better yet, New Jersey) for the tequila of your choosing and bring your brown-paper-ed bottle to Lolita, the a BYOTequila joint slinging carafes of house-made seasonal mixers like wild mint-ed watermelon puree and purple basil-strawberry. That's right -- brown bag it... Craziest Taco Filling Los Taquitos de Puebla 1149 S 9th St; 215.334.0664 Feed your face with every part of a cow's at this so-authentic-the-website-is-in-Spanish South Philly taqueria, where maybe it's best you don't know your tortillas are stuffed with beef eye, tongue, and cheek. How's your Spanish?... Best Salsa Distrito 3945 Chestnut St; 215.222.1657 The gourmet salsa at Jose Garces's West Philly modern Mexican joint blends San Roma tomatoes and roasted jalapenos, bringing Sunday sauce flavor South of the border. See what the Iron Chef can do... Best Guacamole El Vez 121 S 13th St; 215.928.9800 Philly's most iconic restaurateur is responsible for the city's most decadent avocado mashes, like the goat cheese-pistachio-roasted tomato "Bazooka" Limon and Oaxacan knockout De La Hoya, which packs a white onion, basil, and roasted garlic punch. You know you want some, Hass... Best Outdoor Space Honest Tom's Taco Shop 261 S 44th St; 215.620.1851 Scope from the sidewalk at Philly's most forthright taqueria, rolling out egg-, cheese-, guac-, and home fries-stuffed breakfast tacos and burritos every morning, and doling out daily specials like smoked brisket and spicy shrimp ceviche. You should honestly go here... Best Nachos Pure Tacos 1935 Chestnut St; 215.496.9393 The Ocean City taco shop's Rittenhouse lunch spot solves the McDonald's vs. Chipotle dilemma by piling chips with chopped spiced beef, shredded cheddar, ketchup, and mustard. Hooray for fusion cuisine... Hottest Waitresses El Rey 2013 Chestnut St; 215.563.3330 Putting the "so fun" in "queso fundido", the servers at Stephen Starr's Center City Mexi-cantina El Rey are sure to have you saying "ay chiuhuahua!" as they melt... more than your chihuahua. Oh, and they serve food, too... Best Tequila Selection Cantina Los Caballitos 1651 E Passyunk Ave; 215.755.3550 Shots and flights of nearly 100 tequilas are here accompanied by house-made three-juice-and-a-chili sangrita chasers, and, once a month, the EPass cantina hosts Tequila Club, pairing sips like smoky Del Maguey Mezcal Vida with pepper jack cheesesteak empanadas. Cue the Pee Wee music...

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1. Cantina Los Caballitos 1651 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148 (South Philadelphia)

This South Philly cantina takes its name from the traditional tequila-drinking glass, the Caballito, which is a tall narrow shot glass. But you don't care about that do you? Fine, the tequila itself is amazing, with nearly 100 varieties to choose from. What's more, they've got a cooking-til-1-am kitchen that's serving up killer quesadillas, fajitas, and more.

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2. Los Taquitos De Puebla 1149 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

If you're looking for a fast food-esque taco, it's best you look elsewhere. This hole-in-the-wall spot in South Philly is super authentic, with a huge range of typical Mexican taco, quesadilla, and side dish combinations.

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3. Distrito 3945 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (West Phillyu City)

Jose Garces may not have won the Iron Chef America Tournament of Champions (we'll assume you watched), but who needs a meaningless trophy with a restaurant this good? Garces is, offering up a whole bunch of tasty, authentic Mexican food & drinks, from carnitas tacos and carne asada tortas to his signature Don Julio tequila margarita. The UCity spot is sure to please, with walls covered in bright pink & green paint and Mexican wrestling masks, and more.

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4. El Vez 121 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Midtown Village)

A Stephen Starr restaurant, El Vez is a vibrantly designed restaurant serving equally colorful, traditional Mexican food. This Midtown Village spot also quenches your thirst with an awesome, house-made margarita of your choice.

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5. Honest Tom's Taco Shop 261 S 44th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (West Phillyu City)

Often considered Philly's best taqueria, Honest Tom's serves up a super affordable menu of breakfast burritos (stuffed full of eggs, cheese, homefries, and more) that will start your day the right way. Stop by again on the way home to try their sweet potato taco, because you can never have too much tortilla in your life.

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6. Pure Tacos 1935 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

Philadelphia has been home to countless historical moments, but only two that anyone'll really ever remember: the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the debut of Cheeseburger Nachos in 2012. Opening today in Rittenhouse, Pure Tacos is the starkly decorated Ocean City Boardwalk transplant responsible for the latter.

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7. El Rey 2013 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

With El Rey, Stephen Starr continues to expand his Philadelphia restaurant empire -- he's already got Buddakan, El Vez, and Morimoto, among many others. Safe to say, this is another success. It's a Mexican restaurant with an interior that's modeled after the cantina in From Dusk Till Dawn, so it's got vintage movie posters, old instruments, and some prison art. Oh, and the food's not bad either, with a menu that offers meatballs in a spicy salsa, queso fundido, roasted red snapper, and more.

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