Endlessly customizable to satisfy every craving, tacos are a perfect food. Luckily, Philly has no shortage of great tacos, from over-stuffed tortillas served up on styrofoam plates in no-frills neighborhood spots to fancied-up versions from big-name chefs. South Philadelphia, with its population of Mexicans from Puebla, is an especially good place to find an excellent taco (and several other Mexican dishes). While a complete list of taco spots worth checking out in this city would be nearly impossible, here are 18 solid choices, from long-time staples to newer additions.Read More
Where to Eat Tacos in Philadelphia
18 places to get classic combinations, vegetarian versions, and more
Chef Alex Tellez brings his Mexico City upbringing to the menu, pulling from both contemporary Mexican cuisine and pre-Hispanic influences. Tacos aren’t always on the menu, but they’re a special worth grabbing during happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 4pm to 6pm and on weekends. For happy hour, Jamaica infused corn tortillas are stuffed with grilled herb chicken, carnitas, or cauliflower pastor. The weekend tacos, on the other hand, are way more experimental: Think along the lines of birria tacos with ramen, pastor negro octopus with avocado salsa and pineapple salsa, and steamed beef tongue.
Taco Riendo Restaurant
The massive menu at Kensington’s Taco Riendo includes nearly two dozen taco options, all battling it out for your order with the daily specials. Seating is plentiful: There’s the colorful interior and an outdoor patio with umbrellas.
Set in a tiny, bright space near the Rail Park, this taqueria keeps the neighborhood happy with a variety of tacos, including crispy breaded fish, grilled shrimp, carnitas, and chorizo.
Jose Garces’ Distrito takes its cues from Mexico City. The University City spot cranks out tacos served on house-made corn tortillas, with fillings including carnitas, braised beef, and adobo chicken. The restaurant features more than 600 Lucha Libre masks hanging in the buzzy, brightly colored space.
Come for the tacos, stay for the view. El Techo’s retractable roof offers up an incredible skyline view 11 floors up from its sister restaurant, Condesa. There are six tacos to choose from, but they’re loaded with flavor. Try the pollo en pipián, chicken with an aromatic pumpkin seed salsa, or the smoky cactus in the nopales tacos.
Tacos have become a blank canvas on which many culinary traditions can be expressed. At Revolution Taco, Chef Carolyn Nguyen is applying her classical chef training to the menu, crafting globally inspired tacos. The snap of the pickled cucumber brightens up the ssamjang aioli in the Korean beef tacos, while the sweetness of the plum bbq sauce amplifies the richness of the roast duck taco (the fact that it’s served on a scallion pancake shell just adds to this taco’s savory flavors).
Upstairs from sister spot Oyster House, this brightly decorated Center City taco shop grinds its own masa, presses its own tortillas, and seeks out local, seasonal ingredients to fill them with. The results aren’t always traditional, but the unusual takes on classic combinations are well worth trying. Keep an eye out for their TACOLAB popup, a monthly dinner series where guest chefs collaborate to create some of the wildest experimental tacos you’ll ever eat.
This Mexico City-inspired spot from the owners of Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516 aims to be “your neighborhood Mexican cafe,” and they hit that nail on the head with flavorful tacos, a relaxed vibe, and a great brunch. It’s a bright spot on a stretch that’s mostly industrial.
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The goal at this Italian Market gem was to create something a step above the typical taqueria, inspired by the cuisine of Mexico City — but don’t let that dissuade you from settling in for a simple plate of tacos, which are excellent here. The full bar is an added bonus.
Taqueria La Veracruzana
Washington Avenue’s original taqueria has a loyal following thanks to the generous value (3 for $7) of their tasty tacos. Fillings included steak, grilled shrimp, chorizo, al pastor, and chicken tinga. Save room for churros.
Taqueria La Prima
Formerly named Prima Pizza Taqueria Mexicana, this tiny, no-frills, counter-service spot turns out some of the city’s very best plates of tacos. Better yet, it serves all day until at least 4 a.m. This food is conversation-stopping good, which might be just what the doctor ordered by after a night out drinking.
South Philly Barbacoa
Cristina Martinez’s lamb barbacoa tacos turned a small South Philly eatery with limited hours and only a couple of items on the menu into a major destination spot. Martinez and her husband, Ben Miller, have since moved operations into a bigger space in the Italian Market. The tacos are as excellent as ever, but the hours are still limited — it’s only open Saturday and Sunday — so expect a line (it usually moves quickly).
With a name like Mole Poblano, ordering anything with Ynes Sandoval’s signature mole sauce is an easy decision, but grab a few tacos too. Along with traditional fillings like steak and carnitas, this Italian Market eatery offers lengua (tongue) tacos.
Juan Carlos Romero is famous for his tacos al pastor, which he’s been cooking in Philly for a while — first in the Italian Market and now in his newer Point Breeze restaurant. With a couple dozen taco options on the menu, it’ll take a few trips to order them all.
Los Cuatro Soles
At colorful corner spot Los Cuatro Soles, choose from a list of tacos ranging from al pastor with pork and sweet pineapple to an all-vegetable option.
On E. Passyunk Avenue, Jennifer Zavala’s birria tacos, churros, and tamales are all rich, satisfying, and fun to eat in the vibrant space in South Philly. The queso birria ramen comes with birria tacos on the side for dipping in consomé, and you’ll never go wrong with the decision to order vegan. Zavala has nailed plant-based tacos better than most.
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La Virgen de las Nieves Mexican Restaurant
This unassuming South Philly taqueria hits all the right notes, as evidenced with the tacos dorados: crispy-fried rolled tacos filled with chicken, steak, chorizo, or mashed potatoes. While the space bills itself as a grocery, there are a handful of tables up front for eating in.
Serving generous portions in a cheerful space, Los Gallos is a neighborhood staple for good reason. There’s no shortage of worthwhile taco options on the huge menu at this casual South Philly spot.
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