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Dec 13, 2006 06:21 AM

need help--what is best INDIAN or MEXICAN REST IN PHILI

i need to treat my best client to a meal for the holidays in Phili... he loves Indian and mexican... ill need to pre arrange the meal... but i want him to have an amazing experience

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  1. I'd recommend Lolita for mexican. El Vez is good too, and may be a better choice if you're trying to impress someone, as they have a bar (Lolita is BYO) and a fun atmosphere. Lolita has better food, though. Also, Lolita doesn't take reservations on Friday or Saturday (maybe Thursday too, I forget), that may make it hard for you.

    Tequila's (on Locust near Monk's Cafe) is much more upscale than either El Vez or Lolita, and their food is good, but I can't recommend them after my last two visits. The server was a jerk on the first visit, and I found a decent-sized piece of newspaper in my chicken on the second visit.

    If you don't care about the atmosphere and just want authentic Mexican food, head to one of the nicer Mexican-run places on or south of Washington Ave, like Plaza Garibaldi.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Agreed on Tequilas. We used to love that place. What has happened there? The last two time the food was underwhelming to just plain bad. We found the chips greasy and the food in general mediocre. The margarita pitchers tasted like a sweetened lime drink prompting our companions to ask the server for side shots of tequila to pour into our "margaritas". One would think that the server would get the message and bring some complimentary shots but no.

      We like some of the mexican places on north 5th but they aren't nice enough for a special holiday meal.

      Take your client to Pasion. They have excellent S. American with a famous chef and a beautiful dining room.

      1. re: joluvscards

        Guillermo Pernot left Pasion! a few months ago, he's exec chef at Cuba Libre now. I believe he's still associated with Pasion!, but he's not cooking there anymore.

        1. re: Buckethead

          And Pasion too seemed to gone downhill on our last visit prior to Pernot's departure (except for the desserts from the new pastry chef that were outstanding!) What's gotten into these places? I wonder if it could be much better at Cuba Libre with Pernot there given their limited menu (i.e. one type of ceviche).

    2. I you want more of a "fine dining" experience with your client, go to Tequilas. Lolita has better food though. Don't know if it matters, but Lolita is also BYOB.

      1. man, i really wanted to like lolita after all the stellar reviews here, but when i went a few months ago i was pretty underwhelmed. perhaps too much hype. it was just okay. not enough vegetarian options... and unfortunately, i probably won't return often since el vez is right across the street - and i highly prefer el vez - in terms of service, alcohol availability, being able to pay with credit cards, and most importantly, the food! we've done the side-by-side guac tests, and el vez wins, hands-down.

        as far as indian, no one's replied because i think we have yet to find a GOOD center city indian place we all agree upon! a few might recommend cafe spice in old city, but i've heard many a review that it is bland. i have not been there myself. i have found no good indian food in the city; only in the western suburbs.

        5 Replies
        1. re: rabidog

          Dingdingding!! I also have not found good Indian food in CC. Khajuraho in Ardmore is the best I've had, but it's way outside the city and the atmosphere isn't exactly upscale. Shivnanda was a very good Indian place, but it closed a few years ago. The best I've found in the city since then is Lovash, on South Street. It doesn't hold a candle to Khajuraho, but it's pretty good.

          1. re: rabidog

            rabidog - what vegetarian dishes would you suggest at Mexican restaurants? In my ignorance, I think of many foods, even some of the vegetarian dishes being tainted somewhere along the line with lard, oil used to cook meat, etc. I'm mostly interested in dishes that contain as the protein just the beans (hold the meat!), or perhaps a vegetable like eggplant, mixed with tomatoes and cheese.
            I eat a little chicken, and the Baja Grill (I think that's the name) out here in the suburbs is supposed to do a decent job with cooking in a fresh way. Its chicken quesadillas look good.
            When you get the vegetarian selections at the Mexican restaurants you go to, how do you know that the vegetarian dishes you are eating are, in fact, vegetarian, and free of animal residue from other cooked dishes?

            1. re: FelafelBoy

              Hey felafel boy, you'd probably get good general feedback on the 'general topics' board to this question, but I can tell you that refried beans are often refried in lard, and Mexican rice is sometimes made with chicken stock/base.

              That said, that's only if you're worried about the meat on the grounds of principle. My wife doesn't eat meat and will eat refried beans and rice, as the taste is negligible.

              At Tequila's you could order the Queso Fundido which is, essentially, a crock of melted cheese (though they have two on the menu, on with chorizo, which you don't want). The Nachos at Plaza Garibaldi are ridiculously delicious and seem to be completely meat-free (the chips were fried in some of oil, as are all chips, but my experience is that tortilla chips are never fried in lard, again, general topics might get you more input).

              Though tortilla making in general often uses lard, so, again, potentially a problem for you.

              1. re: joypirate

                Last time I was at Tequila's (which was a while ago), they had a little icon next to maybe 1/3 of the menu items, signifying that those items could be prepared vegetarian upon request.

              2. re: FelafelBoy

                joypirate pretty much summed it up for me there! i'm vegetarian simply because i was raised that way (both my parents are vegetarian) and i quite like it so i've stuck with it. i take exception several times a year, especially when i go back home to maryland, to feast on blue crab, baltimore style... so i guess you couldn't call me the strictest of vegetarians. so while i wouldn't sink my teeth into a chicken leg, i am fairly certain chicken stock has been used in many a rice i've eaten at mexican restaurants, and more.

                i ate at a mexican place on west marshall street today (the rec for this area came from this board!) and the most i do is ask my server if the dish is vegetarian. and then i just trust (or go with) their answer. today i had chile rellenos in some tasty fresh tortillas. so i guess if you're as un-strict as me, chile rellenos are a good place to start. i also enjoy enchiladas suizas, with chicken/meat subbed for peppers/onions (your server has to speak decent english, or you have to be able to speak spanish, if these types of requests are going to be made. i am trying to learn spanish, very slowly.) i also looove portabello fajitas!! nachos are fun, too. or queso fundido. oh, and guacamole is a MUST at any mexican restaurant. this will either make or break my review of a mexican restaurant! plenty of options for the lax vegetarian!!

            2. I second Tequila's. Have not been to Lolita's. I wanted so badly to like El Vez due to various people telling me how great it is, but found the food to be way too salty, even the guac (which likely would have been good had it not been killed with salt and greasy tortillas chips). Also thought that overall the food tasted too greasy/processed at El Vez - and I got a vegetarian entree. Just my 1 cent of opinion.

              1 Reply
              1. re: szmn

                here here. el vez is eh. the best mexican food is not at fancy places, nor should it be. that is disappointing to hear about tequila's though, it was a notable exception.

                cafe spice in old city is a very safe place to take someone for indian. their appetizer assortment is excellent though some mains are better than others. but you will not be disappointed going here even though it isn't super authentic. lovash on south street is pretty decent too.

              2. Having been to El Vez a few times, the atmosphere is much better than the food, which seems to me to be overly greasy.

                Tequila's is above average food wise but noting all that special. They have great service and decor but the food was bland the last time I was there a few years ago.

                Haven't been to Lolita either.