Latin American in Philly For Gabriel in St. Louis
- Bruce Bilmes
Pasion! (exclamation point theirs), is wonderful. Not cheap, by Philadelphia standards, but still very reasonable. It's a "happening" place, so if you're not in that mood, be forewarned. But, the food is outstanding, particularly the intensely flavored soups, and the wonderful ceviches.
Thanks for the tip. What about down-scale, family-run taquerias? Anyplace you can get a really good tongue burrito for about $5? Know anyplace to get a good, un-fancy caldo de pollo? I'm put off by the "salsa bar" in too many American run mexican lunch joints. I would rather have one really good salsa than 7 undistinguished sauces ranging from mild to hot. THis ring any bells? What about panaderias? Are there any in town that bake bread fresh daily? How about Mexican grocery stores with hot food counters (the sort of thing that gets called a "Mexicatessen" in central California--by gringos, Mexicans, and Chicano/as alike)?
Is there a Mexican immigrant community in Philadelphia? Can you buy really fresh tortillas?
It looks like we will be moving into a place a few blocks to the west of Penn (can't afford the rents in Center City). Any good, inexpensive eating in that part of town?
re: Gabriel Solis
That's a lot of questions in one post! I'll try to answer the best I can.
I don't think Philly has a large Chicano or Latino population. Que sera sera.
Philly is lacking for tacquerias. there are some blah places in center city, but nothing to get excited about. tongue burrito? not that I'm aware of. There is also the expensive (and yuppie) Santa Fe Burrito company. Tasty but no tongue there.
there's a "new mexican" restaurant that's good but expensive near penn -- called Zocalo. 36th and lancaster. they make their own tortillas, but you'll pay for the privelege.
In Reading Terminal Market you'll find the 12th St. Cantina. They make their own salsas and such. Decent quality, but smacks of gringo to me.
There's a fairly new restaurant in northern liberties -- las cazuelas -- it got a nice review recently and from the exterior looks great. Authentic mexican sit down with a very nice family behind it.
I have read about a mexican grocery in south philly, but haven't been yet. I need to.
As for the Penn area, there are many great cheap eats. Good quality Indian buffets, nice Thai, fair pizza (for Philly) and a number of really good Ethiopian places. Also, cheesesteaks and hoagies. But for cheesesteaks, I think Pat's is worth the trip to south philly.
re: Tom Tannozzini
Tom, hurry! I've been searching for one.
Gabriel, the ethiopian places in west philadelphia are a great asset. One I've never eaten at is a $7 all you can eat which I've heard good things about but never tried. It's a dive bar with food upstairs. The bar gets an eclectic crowd due to its location -- punk kids intermingle with native west philadelphians.
Dahlak is best known and I like it a lot. Just stay away from beef or lamb, both tend to be sinewy and tough. Absyinnian I've heard very good things about also.
There are probably more that I don't know about.