The Best Mexican Restaurants In Philadelphia guide image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Guide

The Best Mexican Restaurants In Philadelphia

The 17 best Mexican restaurants in Philly.

We know that satisfying your chilaquile cravings or nacho needs can be a really tough task. But we also know that there are places in Philly serving up incredible quesadillas, empanadas, huaraches, aguachiles and more. To help you narrow down your list of go-tos, we’ve created this guide: the 17 best Mexican restaurants in Philly, good enough to have you scarfing tacos beneath an overpass, chasing a truck for pozole, and sopping up queso-laden consomme before noon on the weekends.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Rachel Lerro

South Philly Barbacoa imageoverride image
8.8

South Philly Barbacoa

$$$$

1149 S 9th St, Philadelphia
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Sometimes, we suspect the reason our family and friends come to visit us is just to eat at South Philly Barbacoa (don’t worry, we get it). They make the best tacos in the city—and according to James Beard, the best in the Mid-Atlantic. Choose from slow-cooked barbacoa, pancita, or veggie tacos, a lamb consomme, and specials like tamales and quesadillas. It’s a popular spot with both locals and tourists, and they’re only open on the weekends, so show up before noon if you don’t want to wait in line.


When we stumble upon a taco truck as good as Mi Pueblito, it’s tempting to only tell the friends who know our phone passcodes about it. But when this family-run Jalisco-style truck popped up on Front and Dickinson, selling everything from homemade agua frescas and pozole to beef birria tacos with consomme we knew we had to share it with the world (it’s our job). Since Mi Pueblito is only open Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday, plan accordingly, and make sure to wear comfortable shoes since you’ll almost certainly be standing in line. 


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Some things we’ll never forget: waking up early for Saturday morning cartoons, the 2008 Phillies championship, and the first bite of the queso birria ramen and tacos from Juana Tamale. With mounds of queso, stewed beef, and green onions swimming throughout the consomme, the ramen is gooey, soupy, and perfectly slurpable. A queso birria taco comes with each order—the corn tortillas have been grilled in beef fat, making them crispy enough to sop up the broth without losing any of the texture. It’s Mexican comfort food at its best. 


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8.2

La Llorona Cantina

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With a mezcal and tequila list as long as Roosevelt Boulevard, and a kitchen that stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays (unlike most places in the city), this South Philly cantina is a place we go to for rounds of margaritas, cochinita tacos, and Mexican street corn. Start light with the shrimp and scallop aguachile verde–it mixes refreshing cucumber and lime juice with spicy habanero peppers–and then move on to their juicy pan-seared branzino, topped with tomato sauce, olives, capers, and bell peppers. Eat it all at their bar, which is covered in neon pink Batman logos, or on their covered outdoor streetery.


Blue Corn is a lively 10-table restaurant in the Italian market, and it’s one of our go-tos for great margaritas and even better tacos. Everything here is made in the small, open kitchen—from the two semi-spicy salsas that appear on every table, to the blue corn tortillas in their tacos, quesadillas, and huaraches. And while you might find tortilla soup and ceviche on lots of menus, Blue Corn also serves unconventional dishes like  nopales and beef cheeks.


Happy hour, tacos, and mezcal is the trifecta we never knew we needed. This neighborhood spot in Point Breeze should be your go-to for guacamole with crunchy beet and cactus tostadas, red snapper tiradito swimming in a mix of peppery chiltepin, lime, and cucumber, and $8 margaritas. Whether you’re hungry for La Montada, a huarache topped with grilled ribeye, cactus, and refried beans, or just want to sip on a mezcal cocktail, this is a fun and laid-back place to do it.


Philly is known for many things–the PPA ruining lives, passionate fans, and some scenes from National Treasure. But we think eating incredible fish tacos on Sor Ynez’s massive outdoor patio should be next on the list. The breaded fluke is perfectly crispy and each bite is topped with spicy chipotle mayo. And even though it’s as hard to find as a good vegan cheesesteak (it’s hidden in a massive lot next to a warehouse), the vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu is perfect for a Happy Hour or group dinner when you also want to sip on cocktails made with Mexican gin and corn-infused tequila.


People spend a significant amount of time waiting for the tacos from South Philly Barbacoa. But Casa Mexico, a spot run by the same team, is actually easier to get into and has the same great Mexican food. While they only have a handful of indoor seats, their outdoor setup has plenty of tables perfect for sharing–the queso fundido with steak or green mole tostadas with chicken are both delicious and big enough for four people. 


When Queer Eye brought its makeover series to Philly in 2019, we got more than just transformed lives and emotional breakthroughs (I’m not crying, you’re crying). The Fab Five made over this South Philly spot, packing it with colorful furniture and decor to match its delicious Mexican food. Come for brunch, and don’t miss the lobster benedict–it’s covered in a rich and tangy Old Bay hollandaise that’s as bright yellow as their patio seats. Sit under the massive outdoor umbrellas with an order of crispy calamari tacos with miso mayo, then take a stroll around the Italian Market. 


People love to drench things. A lot of people order a stack of pancakes just to douse it in syrup, and we love to drown our mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing in gravy. Callowhill’s El Purephecha takes the drenching game to the next level–they pack homemade masa tortillas with chorizo or garlic shrimp, and then smother it all in a spicy rojo or peppery salsa verde. Come to this Mexican spot after you’ve had a long day and need a night of tender seafood tostadas, enchiladas in a spicy poblano sauce, and grilled steak quesadilla dripping with crema. It’s easy to get a reservation at the last minute as well, so the only thing standing between you and rounds of strawberry margaritas is deciding if you want them frozen or not.


Tequilas is great for an upscale margarita-filled evening or a date night near Rittenhouse. Their cocktails are fantastic, but whatever you do, don't miss the margarita made with rose petal-infused tequila blanco and elderflower liqueur. It has a floral, smoky flavor that’s light with a nice kick. Pair it with an order of the deliciously salty camarones rellenos or cheesy beef enchiladas (if you didn’t already fill up on guacamole and shrimp ceviche). 


Right across from Somerset station, this Mexican restaurant serves chicken chilaquiles for brunch, tinga tostadas for lunch, and braised pork shank and masa dumplings for dinner. The atmosphere is cozy–there are only a few tables and the walls are lined with handmade figurines like cacti, colorful chihuahuas, and antique plates. Since they’re open every day at 11am, you can get in a couple rounds of tacos and margs before noon and consider skipping out on the office for the rest of the day.


There are few things that get us out of bed when we’d rather be sleeping: a fire alarm because our apartment neighbor can’t make toast, avoiding a long line at the carwash, and an order of huevos motuleños especiales from South Philly's Café y Chocolate. Bathing in spicy salsa verde, each tortilla comes packed with refried black beans, a poached egg mixed with ham and mozzarella cheese, roasted poblano rojas, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. Besides that, their menu is full of staples like enchiladas, tortas, crispy churros, and an unforgettable Mexican hot chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon.


This quaint Mexican restaurant near Snyder Station makes the best tortas in Philly, but we also love the tacos de alambre–they combine juicy spiced chicken, crisp red and green peppers, chihuahua cheese, bacon, and fried onions. If you head there in the afternoon, you’ll find a handful of people staring at the menu on the colorful chalkboard trying to decide between the birria or al pastor tacos (spoiler alert: get both). At night, it can get more lively with families and a few groups of friends passing around bowls of spicy guacamole before sharing the bone-in ribeye on a bed of blue corn tlacoyos. 


Los Cuatro Soles is an easygoing, plant-filled space, perfect for sharing tacos and agua frescas with a friend. The South Philly spot is bright, energetic, and serves juicy shrimp tacos that are punched up with a piquin pepper chipotle mayo sauce, enchiladas drenched in earthy mole sauce, and puffy quesadillas fritas filled with chorizo, ham, sausage, avocado, and chipotle or jalapeño peppers.


Adelita has a massive menu–like the Star Wars opening crawl massive–and they’re solid at everything they serve. The tacos are phenomenal, the cemita sandwiches house your chicken or pork in warm pillows of fresh bread on each side, and we’ve put their chilaquiles at the top of our desert island wish list. On the same block as South Philly Barbacoa and Casa Mexico, it can get crowded with people who couldn’t get into those places but still want fresh masa, mole, and tortillas topped with stewed meat.  Everything on the menu is available for takeout, so we recommend grabbing tacos and a tamarind soda to go. 


We’ve long been on a hunt for our favorite Mexican food in the Northeast, and in Asadero Los Tios, we’ve finally found it. The menu is pretty lengthy, but everything we’ve tried has been exceptional–from the grilled elotes smothered in creamy mayo and enchiladas packed with tender chicken to the house-made strawberry, passionfruit or pineapple agua fresca. Come with friends and share a massive burrito (our favorite) or whole fried tilapia in their backyard patio and garden, or enjoy the scent of sizzling steak and peppery queso while watching Mexican Idol on the big screens inside.  

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