Food & Drink

The 10 best Mexican restaurants in Philly

Published On 11/12/2014 Published On 11/12/2014

Everyone in Philly knows where to get a great cheesesteak (one of these places, for starters), and where not to go for any reason whatsoever (Jersey), but it can be tough to figure out where to score foods that Philadelphia's less famous for... like Mexican food. Until your favorite men's lifestyle site decided to round up Philly's 10 best Mexican restaurants, obviously.

El Vez Restaurant

El Vez

Market East 
What you're getting: Once you’ve settled on one of six guacamole blends, go with the taco tasting platter -- which includes sea bass, beef, chicken, carnitas, and mahi -- to cover all your bases. Oh, and quench your thirst with a nice pitcher of Granada margaritas.
With alternating taco specials and an endless drink menu, El Vez infuses seasonal specialties in classic Mexaurant standbys, and it is apparently named after Morris Day's back-up band.

Tequilas Restaurant

Tequilas Restaurant

Rittenhouse Square
What you're getting: The Queso de Mariscos appetizer -- for when you NEED your shell fish and peppers to be bathed in melty cheese
The servers at Tequilas like to show off how many creative ways they can serve you a drink (think head-balancing actd), but don’t worry about the occasional broken margarita glass spoiling your meal, especially if it includes the spot’s signature tequila salsa.

Honest Tom's Taco Shop

Honest Tom’s

University City
What you're getting: A breakfast burrito complete with guac and homefries
This low-key West Philly truck gives you an authentic West Coast taste without any of the frilly touristy nonsense. This is also a great spot to fill your belly before you head around the corner to Local 44 for the night.

Cucina Zapata

Cucina Zapata

University City
What you're getting: The.. waitforit!... Cap'n Crunch-Crusted Tilapia Burrito
Cucina Zapata is one of the city’s premiere choices for burritos on the go and a UCity necessity whether you opt for the freshly fried fish, or the... wait, sorry, but maybe you didn’t read close enough: CAP’N CRUNCH BURRITO.

Quetzally 2157352326

Quetzally

Bella Vista
What you're getting: The spicy pork burrito, which comes accented with sautĂ©ed onions and pineapple
Quetzally regulars come for the generous portions of authentic Mexican food at fair prices. Burrito-lovers can rejoice at the varied and fresh options... and the fact they're bigger than your head.

Distrito - Philly

Distrito

University City
What you're getting: Chicken and guacamole tacos
This UCity spot by Jose Garces has Philly's best guacamole, and it's a great place to get rowdy thanks to rotating margarita specials. Or it's a great place to just have a classically amazing Mexican meal... if you're into that sort of thing.

La Calaca Feliz

La Calaca Feliz

Fairmount
What you're getting: Pork belly tacos to pork up your belly
Come prepared for strong flavors and stronger margaritas. This is a perfect rest stop to fuel up before voyaging all around the Art Museum area.

Mad Mex University City

Mad Mex

University City
What you're getting: The waffle fries. No matter what you get, make sure it comes with waffle fries.
Try to get past the frozen-margarita-loving college crowd (or just embrace it) and face the fact that any burrito as big (and possibly deep-fried) as the square ones this place serves is a good decision. For dessert, you can have the Ice Cream Burrrrito.

Union Taco

Union Taco

Northern Liberties
What you're getting: The award-winning strawberry habanero guacamole
Not only does Union Taco observe the greatest of weekday holidays, $2 Taco Tuesday, but you can also get some Chorizo Cheese Fries to add some variety to your eats.

Flickr/Matthew Mendoza

Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar

Bryn Mawr
What you're getting: If you still have room after the spiced calamari and can take your eyes away from all the other tapas, try the seasonal pumpkin taco, or any of the traditional tacos meant for “sharing”.
The Main Line tequila bar is a bric-a-brac of Latin cuisine, including daily tequila specials and a late-night happy hour.

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1. 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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2. Tequilas Restaurant 1602 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

If you didn't get this impression from its name, the name of the game at this Rittenhouse Square spot is tequila -- tequila shots, tequila cocktails, tequila salsa -- it's all tequila. Well, that and Day of the Dead decor (this place is decked from floor to ceiling) and traditional Mexican fare like mole poblano and chiles rellenos. The servers here will likely attempt to dazzle you with creative bartending techniques lie head-balancing acts, so you'll get a show with dinner, too (just lookout for the occasional broken margarita glass).

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3. Quetzally 1225 Fitzwater St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (Italian Marketbella Vista)

Quetzally regulars come for the generous portions of authentic Mexican food at fair prices, and burrito lovers can rejoice at varied and fresh options. Be sure not to miss the Spicy Pork Burrito, which comes with sautéed onions and pineapple.

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4. 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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5. La Calaca Feliz 2321 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Fairmountart Museum)

Having pleased critics and citizenry with tacos & tequila at Ft. Washington's Cantina Feliz, this crew of Garces alums enter the city with La Calaca: a red-boothed, Muertos-muraled rec room in Fairmount where they'll sling tons of agave and twisted Mexican staples, a big box store at which they say “that was easy”, but like, in Spanish, and in a way that scares you.

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6. Mad Mex 3401 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (West Phillyu City)

Relive college days at this haunt with a Big Azz margarita -- brain freeze impending -- a red velvet quesadilla (that's sadly, doesn't come with frosting), and wings.

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7. Union Taco 712 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123

The dude behind Verdad says his new 20-seat taqueria's got a "San Diego" feel where you can scarf seasonal eats like strawberry habanero guacamole, Pork Carnitas tacos w/ chipotle bbq, pomegranate & avocado, or Black Truffle flatbread w/ chicken confit, mushrooms, goat cheese & pesto.

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8. Verdad 818 W Lancaster Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 (Main Line)

Serial restaurateur Howard Taylor's teamed up with CIA alum Nick Farina to open a Euro-Latin tapas restaurant & tequila bar, occupying a seductively dimmed 85-seater with soft drapery and wrought iron dividers separating front and rear dining rooms from the central bar area and its smattering of banquettes covered in leopard print. Stop in for their weekly brunch offerings as well.

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