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.
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.
It's a balancing act at Las Bugambilias, which walks a fine line by "channeling the authentic flavors of a taqueria, but presenting them in a more polished, upscale way," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Chef and owner Carlos Molina does rely on the formal culinary training he received in Mexico City and Cancún. But instead of experimenting with flashy techniques and presentations, he creates dishes that all share one goal: capturing the flavors that define authentic Mexican cuisine. Chef Molina's cooking is grounded in the regionally specific cuisines of Mexico City, Puebla, Veracruz, and the Yucatán Peninsula. Using time-tested family recipes, he cooks faithful re-creations of regional dishes that incorporate the Spanish and French influences that helped create those dishes. Chicken simmers in a complex-and-rich mole sauce made using Mexican chocolate and dried chilies and numerous other ingredients. The sopes' handmade corn tortillas brim with shredded chicken breast or slow-cooked pork, and the spicy jumbo shrimp marinate in chile de arbol before being grilled over a miniature volcano. Much like the menu, the decor strongly adheres to a sense of time and place. Specifically, Las Bugambilias embraces the period of history from the Mexican Revolution in 1911 to the golden age of Mexican cinema in 1945. According to Philadelphia Weekly, "autographed black-and-white photos of raven-haired starlets hang on the exposed-brick and banana-yellow walls." These sorts of personalized touches perfectly complement the room's homespun appeal, which includes tables adorned with decorative tiles as well as small pots of blooming flowers throughout the space.
Even though he was just four years old when his family emigrated from Puebla, Mexico to the United States, Alfredo Aquilar prepares Mexican food as though he’d lived his whole life there. Under his supervision, chefs at Las Cazuelas prepare authentic dishes such as nopalitos salad—sliced cactus marinated overnight and mixed with cilantro and tomatoes. Abuelitas pollo, whose name means “little grandmother’s chicken” in tribute to its inventor, Alfredo’s own grandmother, is a boneless chicken breast topped with a guajillo pepper sauce. In the kitchen, shrimp snap against hot skillets near pots of slowly roiling chipotle sauce. To wash down steaming feasts, customers tote in bottles of wine or bring along tequila to add to complimentary pitchers of nonalcoholic margarita mix served Sunday–Thursday.
Inside the dining area, blue shutters frame murals of South American cathedrals, rolling countrysides, and maps of Mexico. An outdoor patio offers people-watching opportunities, and the second-floor balcony lets you look people in the eye when telling them you know they are actually a bunch of children stacked up under a big coat.
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.
A distressed wood sign, like something from a sleepy Mexican border town, hangs outside Cantina Dos Segundos, a laid-back but occasionally loud spot that will transport you to a south-of-the-border siesta state. Strings of colored lights and star-shaped twinkly ornaments illuminate the exposed-brick walls and the rustic tables and chairs painted dark red, teal and yellow. To get a sense of the cocktails, try El Caliente (“the hot one”), a kicky concoction of Tequila, Triple Sex, lime juice and chile oil. Order food like a quesadilla appetizer filled with chicken or wild mushrooms, various incarnations of tacos, or entrées of a tortilla casserole or slow-cooked goat. Salsas come complimentary, in tame green and fiery red varieties.