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 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 of the top choices, from long-time staples to newer additions.Read More
Where to Eat Tacos in Philadelphia
These Philly restaurants serve classic and creative versions of the iconic tortilla-wrapped Mexican food
Tim Spinner has been involved in a number of Mexican restaurants in Philly, from El Vez to Distrito to Cantina Feliz. At his vibrant Taqueria Amor in Manayunk, the chef serves Ensenada-style fish tacos filled with tempura-battered tilapia, Carolina barbecue shrimp tacos with a sweet chile sauce, and even Korean barbecue broccoli tacos with kimchi. If you’re feeling less adventurous, classics like chicken tinga never miss.
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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 4 to 6 p.m. and on weekends. For happy hour, tortillas (made from blue corn sourced from Masa Cooperativa) are stuffed with grilled adobo grilled chicken, carnitas, or carrots and mole. The weekend tacos include quesabirrias, fish tacos, and a classic breakfast taco.
Taco Riendo Restaurant
The massive standard 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: In addition to the colorful interior, you’ll find an outdoor patio with umbrellas.
Set in a tiny, bright space near the Rail Park, El Purepecha taqueria keeps the neighborhood happy with a variety of tacos, including crispy breaded fish, grilled shrimp, carnitas, and chorizo.
Come for the tacos, stay for the view. A retractable roof offers an incredible skyline view 11 floors up from El Techo’s sibling restaurant, Condesa. There are six tacos to choose from, and they’re loaded with flavor. Try the pollo en pipián — chicken with an aromatic pumpkin seed salsa — or the nopales tacos filled with smoky cactus.
Mission Taqueria (multiple locations)
Upstairs from sibling 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, including cauliflower al pastor. Mission Taqueria’s results aren’t always traditional, but they’re always well worth trying. You’ll also find a counter-service location of the taqueria at Giant Riverwalk.
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. Blue Corn’s full bar is an added bonus.
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, Taqueria La Prima serves all day until at least 4 a.m. This food is conversation-stopping good, which might be just what the doctor ordered after you’ve been out all night.
A buzzy neon sign bearing just two letters (Si) illuminates the entryway to this tiny Newbold taco shop, a sibling to the pastry shop Oui. While you can stop by Si Taqueria any day of the week for tacos like al pastor and mole, swing by on weekends to score the tacos arabes deal: tortillas, chipotle salsa, limes, and either a half pound or a pound of aromatic arabes filling for a damn good price.
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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. Martinez has since moved operations into a bigger space in the Italian Market and has expanded into a second restaurant, Casa Mexico, which offers a broader array of offerings. The tacos are as excellent as ever, and the hours are still limited — South Philly Barbacoa only opens Saturday through Monday, so expect a line, though it usually moves quickly.
The name Mole Poblano tells you that 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 excellent lengua 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. The menu features a couple dozen taco options, so it’ll take a few trips to order them all.
At his all-day BYOB in South Philly, Carlos Aparicio filters specialties from all over Mexico through the lens of his experience working extensively at some of Philly’s top restaurants. Thus the chef that developed the baguette recipe for Parc now fills sourdough flour tortillas with chorizo, al pastor, or vegan arabes made of oyster mushrooms and tangy chipotle, among other treats.
Mi Pueblito Tacos
Trust the lines wrapping down the block under I-95: Mi Pueblito’s Jalisco-style all-beef birria tacos are a must-try. Catch them Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 7 p.m. at the brightly colored food truck in Pennsport.
Los Cuatro Soles
At colorful corner spot Los Cuatro Soles, choose from a list of fabulous tacos ranging from al pastor with pork and sweet pineapple to an all-vegetable option.
Jennifer Zavala’s birria tacos, churros, and tamales are all rich, satisfying, and fun to eat in this vibrant space on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. The queso birria ramen comes with birria tacos on the side for dipping in consomé, though you’ll never go wrong with a vegan order, as Zavala has nailed plant-based tacos.
La Virgen de las Nieves Mexican Restaurant
La Virgen de las Nieves Mexican Restaurant hits all the right notes, as evidenced by the tacos dorados: crispy-fried rolled tacos filled with chicken, steak, chorizo, or mashed potatoes. The unassuming South Philly taqueria has a handful of tables up front for dining 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 charmer.