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Rachel Lerro

South Philly Barbacoa

Written by
Rachel Lerro

There was a time in our lives when we would wait in lines - whether it was for an overrated club where we didn’t know anyone inside or the DMV to get a license replaced after dropping the last one down a sewer grate. But then we grew up and realized that clubs are better in theory, and you can replace your license online while you binge watch The Office for the fourth time all the way through. Now, if you find us waiting in a line, it will be almost exclusively at South Philly Barbacoa.

Even before South Philly Barbacoa started receiving national attention, there was almost always a small line out the door. That’s because this place spends days preparing and cooking their barbacoa, and the work shows. The meat is flavorful and juicy, and you’ll quickly find out that no matter what toppings or sauces you do or do not put on them, the tacos are truly phenomenal and without a doubt the best in the city.

Rachel Lerro

Besides the barbacoa, there’s also pancita (chopped pork belly), which is just as good as the lamb in our opinion, and both are served on freshly-made corn tortillas that come from a huge ball of masa sitting on the counter. The consome is also excellent, and even though it’s mostly just broth with some rice and chickpeas mixed in, it’s exactly what you want after a long night out or when the temperature mysteriously drops 30 degrees in December.

Unless you’re not in charge of your plans or you’re a masochist, we suggest you get here by 11:30am on one of the three days a week they’re open (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) to avoid the bulk of the crowds. It may be on the early side for lunch, but we’d rather eat early than spend an hour rearranging our iPhone apps while we wait for a taco.

Food Rundown

Barbacoa Taco

What they’re best known for, and hands down the best taco in Philadelphia. Each comes on a fresh corn tortilla and you can top it yourself with whatever salsas, vegetables, and herbs you want.

Pancita Taco

Same deal as the barbacoa taco, except it’s pork belly.


This is a delicious, slightly spicy lamb broth with a minimal amount of other things. We’d drink it in a hot cocoa cup all winter.

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