There's a lot more to Philadelphia's food scene than cheesesteak and soft pretzels. Whether you're craving a hearty breakfast burrito, a tower of tacos, some nachos to nosh on, or a few tequila shots to wash it all down with, you'll find an almost endless supply of great Mexican restaurants to try in Philly. If you're ready to enjoy some authentic south-of-the-border flavors, check out these 10 must-try places to get the best Mexican food in Philadelphia.
10. Distrito: 3945 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Run by Iron Chef Jose Garces, Distrito takes a two-pronged approach to Mexican cuisine. For casual, flavor-packed street food, make your way to the street-level taqueria. Head upstairs to enjoy small plates of contemporary Mexican cuisine in the colorful, eclectically styled main dining room. If tacos are your scene, stop by to enjoy specials on tacos, super nachos, and margarita pitchers on Taco Tuesday.
9. Mission Taqueria: 1516 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Messing around with the classics can sometimes be a one-way ticket to unhappy customers and a deflated reputation, but Mission Taqueria has mastered the art of an eclectic menu perfectly. striking just the right balance of authenticity and creativity on dishes like tacos made from grilled short rib with cashew butter, preserved kumquat & onion salsa, and roasted cauliflower in a coconut glaze. Delivery is available, but the neon wall art and open kitchen design of the restaurant (not to mention the giant tequila and mezcal menu) make it worth reserving a table.
8. Don Barriga Mexican Grill: 4443 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Up until a couple of years ago, finding good Mexican food west of the Schuylkill was mission impossible. Then in 2019, Don Barriga Mexican Grill opened its doors on Spruce Street, and suddenly, the food landscape was looking a lot more promising. Since then, it's become a must-visit destination for Philly residents looking for authentic, flavor-packed Mexican dishes, quick, friendly service, and affordable prices. The "Breakfast of the House" (nachos cooked in green or red sauce, smothered in fried beans, and served with bacon, a sunny-side-up egg, and a mollete) is ideal for early risers. If you come for dinner, be sure to try a slice of the Pastel Tres Leches for dessert.
7. Tequilas Restaurant: 1602 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
This little gem by Rittenhouse Square promises some of the best south-of-the-border dishes you'll find in the whole of Philly. The interior is stunning, with artisan wooden furniture, glittering chandeliers, and authentic Mexican murals. The menu doesn't leave a lot to be desired either, with the Enchiladas Playa and Molcajete De Carne both drawing more than their share of rave reviews. Be sure to save a little room for dessert - the tres leches cake is heavenly. Wash it all down with one of the house's signature cocktails.
6. Buena Onda: 1901 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Named one of the best places for Mexican food in Philadelphia by Time Out, Buena Onda is all about fresh, simple, tasty food, served quickly and at a price that won't break the bank. The fish and seafood tacos are the main reason to visit, but if you're in the mood for some variety, the carnitas tacos, tortilla soup, and nachos won't disappoint.
5. Blue Corn: 940 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Since 2014, this family-owned operation in South Philadelphia has been keeping its loyal patrons happy with its winning combination of Mexican classics, bold flavors, and exceptional customer service. The salsa served on fresh blue corn tortillas is the perfect way to start your meal - from there, work your way around the flavor-packed sopecitos, gorditas and tacos, along with entrees like Coctel de Camarón (shrimp smothered in homemade tomato sauce with bruja vinegar, clam juice, topped with onions, cilantro, avocado, and olive oil) and Alambre Poblano ((pan-seared steak, onion, poblano pepper, melted mozzarella cheese, served with pico de gallo, and corn tortillas). There's a great kid's menu for little diners, along with a sensational selection of tequilas and mezcals to try. Take-out is available, with a huge selection of margaritas, mojitos, pina coladas, and other tropical cocktails available to-go.
4. Café y Chocolate: 1532 Snyder Ave Philadelphia, PA 19145
If you're looking for a new breakfast spot, take the advice of thrillist.com and stop by Café y Chocolate. With plantain and cream that hits the perfect sweet/ savory balance, a tower of huevos rancheros with refried beans, ham and mozzarella topped with salsa verde, poblano rajas, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and queso, and a peaches n' cream malteadas that's heaven in a glass, it's an absolute must-visit. Don't leave before trying a mug of their signature hot chocolate.
3. El Rey: 2013 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Restaurateur Stephen Starr’s mission in creating El Rey was to combine the nostalgic glamor of an old-school roadside diner with authentic, home-style Mexican cuisine. Complementing the blue shrimp ceviches, brisket quesadillas, tortas, enchiladas, and sopes is a menu of tequilas and mezcals a mile long. Stop by during Happy Hour from Sunday through Thursday to enjoy cut-price tacos and margaritas
2. Sor Ynéz: 1800 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Last year, Phillymag.com voted Sor Ynéz the best vegetarian Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia, calling out its cauliflower pastor (whole cauliflower left to bathe in guajillo pineapple marinade overnight before being spit-roasted, sliced, and crisped on the plancha griddle) for particular attention. If you're craving something a little meatier, both the Heritage Pork Carnitas Platter (pork shoulder, onion, escabeche, avocado, habanero carrot salsa, corn tortillas, pinto frijoles de oll) and the Birria de Res (cascabel chile braised beef shoulder, queso Oaxaca, guajillo corn tortilla, cilantro, onion, salsa verde, consomme, Arroz a la Mexicana, garbanzo) come highly recommended.
1. La Llorona: 1551 West Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19145
La Llorona might be a relative newcomer to Philly's food scene, but despite only opening its doors two years ago, it's already established itself as a local favorite. The mammoth collection of tequilas and mezcals hasn't exactly hurt its reputation, but even non-drinkers will get a buzz out of the fresh, lively dishes, vibrant atmosphere, and an angelic shrimp ceviche that's worth the trip alone.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn