Exploring the Pine Barrens (pt. 1): Cranberry Bogs and THE Best “Philly” Cheese steak). See our post for more on these Italian classics The Italian, Italian Market
Today, this is where you come to get some of the best authentic Mexican food in the city. Although we love tacos (and there are many, many options for great tacos in the area), our goal has been to try more regional, less well-known foods. In most of the places we’ve visited, Spanish is the primary language. My high-school Spanish helped a bit, but we definitely did a lot of pointing and smiling.
You can easily spend many good meals sticking to the few blocks around the Italian Market (the 900-1100 blocks of South 9th Street), although we ventured a little further afield. This area is full of Mexican restaurants, ice-cream stores, grocers, butchers, etc..
Our favorite discoveries (so far):
The barbacoa tacos from South Philly Barbacoa (1140 S. 9th) have been all over the news for the past few years after being named one of the best new restaurants by Bon Appétit. Open only Saturday-Monday, you have to come early (they open 5am Sat. & Sun. 7am Mon.) because they almost always sell out by mid-afternoon. It’s a small restaurant and there are always lines, but the line moves pretty fast (the menu is basic – lamb or pork tacos with our without the consomme made from the lamb drippings) and the service is friendly. The owner, an undocumented worker herself, is a vocal advocate for undocumented restaurant workers’ rights.
Lots of interesting ice cream flavors and a VERY interesting chamoyada dessert -mango slushy with a swirl of spicy/salty chamoy (a condiment). Not sure if we liked this one, but it was definitely an experience. From Paletas Y Helados Bambino (1142 S. 9th).
Right across the street is La Guerrerense (1143 S. 9th), which also has chamoyadas and ice cream, but also house-made paletas (popsicles). They have plenty of “regular” flavors, but also more interesting flavors, such as mamey, rice, and mango/spicy chili. At $2 each, these might be my favorite Italian Market discovery. This is also the place to come for fancy gelatin desserts (pretty AND jiggly – the large is only $5) and to try dorilocos – a Mexican street food snack (a Doritos bag filled with lettuce, carrots, cucumber, peanuts, hot sauce and a mystery ingredient that we didn’t examine too closely…)
Another great choice for classic Mexican fare is Mexico Lindo (700 Moore Street), located in a corner space a short walk from the Italian Market area. It’s a great local spot, with friendly staff, inexpensive, tasty basics and delicious salsas. We had the pork huarache and chorizo tacos.
Tobey says: I’m definitely ready to go back! Everything was delicious, although I’m still not sure about the chamoyada – it didn’t really float my boat!