El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant's neon-green and bright-red sign is merely an appetizer for the feast of colors within. Red- and orange-striped booths, sky-blue chairs, textured sunflower walls, and tabletops painted with smiling suns, blossoming tulips, and fruit dominate the space. This festive atmosphere sets an ideal scene for enjoying carne asada, chicken enchiladas, tacos filled with pork and beans, and churros. El Tapatio—whose name refers to a Guadalajara native—also mixes up delicious margaritas, which were dubbed the Best Margaritas by Delaware Today in 2008.
Attached to an unassuming South Philly corner bodega filled with Mexican groceries, chilies, and spices, Los Gallos doesn't have to go far to find its ingredients. The chefs whip up familiar feasts of chicken tostadas, Texas-style nachos, and cheese quesadillas or dole out more traditional Mexican dishes such as savory menudo stews, huitlacoche tacos, or enchiladas mole. Leave the plastic at home, as Los Gallos only accepts payment in the form of cash or in-key renditions of public-domain Christmas songs.
Los Taquitos de Puebla Restaurant was praised by the Philadelphia Weekly as a destination for great pork, specifically the "succulent cilantro-flecked tacos al pastor." These traditional pork tacos are decorated simply with succulent pineapple and crisp onions. Inside the restaurant’s small and colorful dining room you can order quite a variety of tacos from the menu including some that feature cactus and chihuahua cheese, beef short rib, and smoked pork chop.
Underneath its red awning, Mexico On The Square's large front window bears the words Tacos, Burritos, and Tortas in thick block letters. Inside, the menu shows much of the same: classic Mexican dishes with a foundation of thick, housemade tortillas that envelop savory fillings, such as a carnitas sope's deep-fried pork, refried beans, and pico de gallo. The menu also includes burritos, tortas, and picaditas packed with savory steak, shredded chicken, or veggies. American favorites such as burgers and hoagies offer more familiar bites, and in the morning, omelets and egg platters provide pleasant wake-up calls that are the culinary equivalent of a rooster's soulful saxophone licks.
Christened after the identically named daughter and niece of owners Michael Poole and Van Chau, Isabel is flooded with light to emulate the little girls’ smiles. Palm fronds catch natural light that streams in from full-wall windows and guest appearances from the sun itself, which is rumored to love the empanadas. Seated next to the dappled orange walls and brick-colored tiles, guests dip crispy tortilla chips into guacamole or queso fundido studded with chorizo and mushrooms before servers shuttle heaping plates of spiced meats from the bustling kitchen. The chefs draw inspiration from the bright, intense flavors of Mexican and Californian recipes to create brunch and dinner dishes such as drunken chicken in pasilla chili tequila sauce. The proprietors' eclectic spirit keeps them from falling into predictable flavor patterns, however—they'll just as readily cover prosciutto-style duck in chocolate sauce as bake a dish of huevos rancheros, relying on a talent for fusion also seen at their other restaurant, the pan-Asian Trio.
Santa Fe Burrito's cooks assemble fresh ingredients daily to fill made-to-order burritos with generous portions of chicken, turkey, shrimp, vegetables, beans, and tofu. Menu options range from traditional burritos with black beans and cheese to ultimate burritos stuffed with Adobo shrimp, chicken chili, or turkey burger.