Philly's Best Mexican

Craving something spicy?

It’s true: Philadelphia isn’t known for it’s Mexican faire. But after sampling some of the offerings from our city’s many “Best of” lists, we’re beginning to think maybe it should be. Check out the list below for yourself, so that next time you’re looking to try something good and hot, you know where to go.

Citysearch: Lolita
106 S. 13th St.
Forget BYOB—Lolita is a BYOT, and that “T” stands for “tequila.” The menu of mostly updated Mexican-fusion offerings dishes up a rotation of freshly squeezed margarita mixes, and all you have to do is provide is the alcohol (your friendly waiter or waitress will even mix the drinks to perfection at your table). Lest you think it’s the pitchers of marvelous margaritas that make Citysearch so quick to deem the sultry Midtown Village restaurant best, consider the menu: pan roasted salmon with cascabel chile salsa and ancho roasted sauce; pan-seared duck breast with linvilla cider glaze and apple-jicama slaw; and morita-cumin grilled beef tenderloin with poblano rajas and avocado-tomatillo salsa. And that’s just to name a few.

AOL City’s Best: El Vez
121 S. 13th St.
Just across the street from Lolita lies El Vez, Stephen Starr’s hip, Elvis-themed Mexican joint. Diners come here for the kitschy, Starr-ed up atmosphere, and stay for the guacamole. Oh, the guacamole—El Vez offers six varieties of the green stuff, and with names like “Cesar Chavez” (tomato, basil, onions, Oaxaca cheese, pasilla-basalmic sauce) and “Indian Red Lopez” (spicy crab, cilantro, salsa roja) you can’t go wrong with whichever you choose. Add to that a selection of entrees that includes red snapper enchiladas, adobo tuna tostadas and shrimp quesadillas, and you’re sure to leave full and happy.

Philadelphia magazine: Xochitl
408 South 2nd St.
Named for an 11th century Mexican queen, Xochitl is Queen Village’s south-of-the-border jewel. Everything about this quaint neighborhood spot is innovative: savory drinks that use ingredients like cucumber, canteloupe and cilantro; appetizers that combine traditionally Mexican ingredients in unexpected ways; and a late-night menu that’s available until 1 a.m. Look closely, and you’ll find unexpected menu items that include octopus, watermelon and rabbit. But duck, lamb and sausage are the focalpoints here, and they’re consistently prepared excellently—which keeps the foodies coming back to Headhouse Square. 

Around Town pick: Distrito
3945 Chestnut St.
It’s no coincidence that Esquire magazine picked U-City’s Distrito as one of the 50 best new restaurants of 2008. Distrito is, simply put, as near to Mexican tapas perfection as it gets. Philly’s rising-star restaurateur Jose Garces combines unexpected ingredients (tuna ceviche and lime sorbet?) in ways that make instant believers out of those who try them. And the perfectly hip, breezy atmosphere, fabulous margarita menu and big-screen that plays video clips of Mexican wrestling makes diners feel instantly cool while enjoying their carefully crafted, perfectly presented dishes.

More Best of's:
Philly's Best Fries
Philly's Best Burger
Philly's Best Pizza
Philly's Best Coffee Shop
Philly's Best Cocktail
Philly's Best Brunch
Philly's Best Sushi
Philly's Best Dessert
Philly's Best BYOB
Philly's Best Lunch
Philly's Best Cheesesteak
Philly's Best Vegetarian
Philly's Best Beer Bar
Philly's Best Dive Bar
Philly's Best Thai
Philly's Best Happy Hour
Philly's Best Romantic Restaurants

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