Mexican Restaurants in Philadelphia for a Great Meal

Philly’s love affair with Mexican food is strong. The city is full of options serving authentic recipes from different regions of Mexico as well as more Americanized adaptations, all of which go down easy with a margarita or fruity agua fresca. Whether you want a casual taqueria, more upscale offerings, or vegan spins on traditional dishes, here’s a look at some of the Mexican restaurants in Philadelphia worth visiting right now.

El Chingon

Pork al pastor sandwich with grilled onion and lime on a plate.
Al pastor cemita at El Chingon

Bright colors and Mexican flags welcome you to El Chingon from the moment you see the outside of this corner spot on South 10th Street. A highly-acclaimed addition to the South Philly Mexican scene, seats here can be hard to come by—it’s a good thing they have long hours.

The BYOB is best known for its house-made cemitas. These sandwiches from the Mexican state of Puebla are piled high with proteins and mounded on round rolls that are made daily in-house. Beef milanese and marinated skirt steak are popular, and we opted for pineapple-studded pork al pastor. There is a lot to choose from, and our server was happy to guide us in trying some of the highlights.

El Chingon serves lunch and dinner daily (except Monday). The menus include everything from chilaquiles to rabbit tinga tostadas and a range of fresh seafood aquachiles. We absolutely loved the huevos con mole—scrambled eggs topped with flavorful mole and served with rice and homemade corn tortillas. If you can’t come early, be prepared to wait. It’s worth it.

Casa Mexico

Meat tacos topped with onion and cilantro.
Famous lamb barbacoa tacos

Chef-owner Cristina Martinez has recently consolidated her two restaurants (formerly 2 doors away from each other) into one location—Casa Mexico. This spot adds the specialty offerings of former South Philly Barbacoa to Casa Mexico, which has a much broader menu.

For years, Martinez has been recognized just about everywhere—from the James Beard Awards (more than once) to numerous magazines and TV shows—for her dishes rooted in her Mexican heritage. In fact, her lamb barbacoa isn’t just outstanding Mexican food—it’s become an essential part of the city. Slow cooked in a citrus marinade, the lamb is served on corn tortillas made in-house from corn that is grown specifically for the restaurant.

Other standouts include pork pibil tacos, tlacoyos, and anything topped with Casa Mexico’s incredible mole. We particularly love the quesadillas–there really is something special about the tortillas. The restaurant has lots of seating and a full bar.

Cantina La Martina

Steak topped with avocado, nopales, and jalapenos.
New York strip with black aguachile at Cantina la Martina

Quesadillas made for sharing, refreshing aguachiles, and divine moles are just a few of the things that put Cantina La Martina at the top of the list of best Mexican restaurants in Philly. The dishes at this Kensington spot have earned chef-owner Dionicio Jimenez a James Beard nomination and many devoted fans.

At lunch, diners will find lots of tacos and enchiladas. Brunch features chilaquiles, tamales, and other specialties as well as pancakes topped with berries and Mexican chocolate whipped cream. At dinner, the braised pork shank and New York strip steak with nopales and huitlacoche are stand outs. During one of our visits, we arrived just as the chef pulled the goat barbacoa out of their outside barbacoa pit, so we got a taste of what makes their weekend platters so special–highly recommended.

The restaurant is located in a rougher part of Kensington, so be aware of your surroundings. Once inside, the environment couldn’t be more welcoming. Between the bar, indoor dining room, and outdoor spaces, there are lots of seating options.


Table with cocktails, tortilla chips and guacamole, ceviche, and other Mexican food
Seafood coctel and guac at LMNO

A cornerstone of the Fishtown dining scene, Mexican-themed LMNO has not just a massive dining room and patio but also includes a bookshop and art gallery. You can even sit at the counter adjacent to the open kitchen and watch the chefs at work while you eat.

The Baja-inspired menu includes seafood and vegan aguachiles, tostadas, and and lots of taco options. The larger dishes are designed to share and feature several make-your-own tacos options, including lobster tails and a whole grilled seabass. Some of our favorites include the beef birria tacos with consomme, the carne asada tacos with delicious chimichurri, and the aguachile chili verde that comes with scallop, shrimp, and crab in a broth that has just the right kick. At brunch, don’t miss the birria Benedict and tres leches French toast.

La Llorona Cantina

Pork al pastor tacos with lime slices on a plate.
Fantastic al pastor tacos

The food at La Llorona Cantina is designed for sharing. And thank goodness for that because having to limit yourself at this South Philly standout would be a travesty.

Tacos, quesadillas, and ceviches dominate the menu full of items that accompanies the long tequila and mezcal list. For something more substantial, turn to the chicken breast with mole or the half rack of guajillo adobo ribs that you can use to build your own tacos. We particularly love the al pastor tacos and the tortilla soup. The tlayuda layered with beans, avocado, cheese, and chorizo is a revelation.

You can grab a seat inside, but we love to opt for the large sidewalk seating area in warmer months.

Taqueria Amor

Two fish tacos topped with radishes on a plate.
Baja fish tacos at Taqueria’s colorful bar

Quesadillas, fajitas, and tons of tacos take center stage at Taqueria Amor. The casual Mexican taqueria in Manayunk brings good food and good fun to every meal. Full disclosure: we’ve been coming here since before the restaurant was technically open to the public and regularly ever since. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Our top picks include the brisket enchiladas, carnitas tacos, and cheesy chorizo fundido. In addition to the excellent regular menu, the restaurant often features pop-up concepts. Depending on the time of year, visitors may find Tikirita Amor (a tiki bar theme), Barbie, Merry Grinchmas, Stranger Things, or something else to liven up your evening. Each one comes with specials, themed cocktails, and tons of fun decorations.

Blue Corn

A family-owned Mexican restaurant in South Philly, Blue Corn brings authentic recipes and tasty margaritas to the diners on busy Ninth Street. The ceviches and huaraches here are among our favorites—it’s hard to lose with a combination of fresh seafood, homemade vinegar, and olive oil or masa topped with salsa, refried beans, and tender steak. Call for a reservation, and come prepared–it’s cash only.

Sor Ynez

Mexican dishes including carnitas and garlic shrimp on plates on a table.
A delicious dinner at Sor Ynez

Part of the rapidly growing Kensington dining scene, Sor Ynez takes a sustainable approach to traditional recipes from different parts of Mexico, reflecting the heritage of chef Alex Tellez and his family. We nearly swooned over one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, the puffy and crispy tlacoyos made of blue corn masa. Layered with refried beans, nopales, queso fresco, and salsa verde, they’re a filling appetizer and an absolute must-try.

Other highlights include the Michoacan-style pork carnitas platter—a piece of tender pork that comes with pinto beans, blue corn tortillas, and salsa verde—and the garlic shrimp that gets a hit from mezcal and is complemented by creamy rice. Vegetarians will find a good list of options here, too.

If you’re visiting when the weather is nice, don’t miss the chance to have a margarita or cocktail on the beautiful patio. As a bonus, Sor Ynez has ample free parking.

El Vez

Shrimp tacos and a margarita
Shrimp tacos for lunch at El Vez

The colorful and personality filled El Vez has been a prime spot for margaritas and guacamole in Midtown Village for 20 years. With cushy velvet booths, a spinning low-rider bike over the bar, and lots of glitz and glam, it is a destination for brunch and dinner and a great lunch option in Center City, too (I had my share of lunch meetings here when I worked a few blocks away).

We particularly love the black bean tlayuda—a crispy corn flatbread with lots of toppings—and the Baja shrimp tacos with crispy shrimp coated in Modelo beer batter. There are lots of build-your-own tacos and other versions of Mexican classics. Plus, the bar has an extensive tequila list and flavors from spicy pineapple to blood orange. If you want a prime weekend dinner reservation, it’s best to plan a couple of weeks ahead.

Mole Poblano

Naming your restaurant Mole Poblano after the classic chicken dish covered in chocolatey, nutty, complex mole sets a diner’s expectation high. Luckily, this classic Mexican restaurant that incorporates the flavors and cooking traditions of Puebla lives up to every hope you might have for it.

From the mole that graces enchiladas and burritos to the handmade sopes and classic tacos, dishes at Mole Poblano sing. If you’re headed there on the weekend, look out for the tamale specials and the braised goat barbacoa.

This BYOB is compact, so it’s a good idea to call ahead if you have a larger party. Vegetarian diners may need to ask for some substitutions–options on the menu are limited, but the friendly staff is happy to make change where possible.

Loco Pez

Tortilla chips, queso, salsa, and more food on a table at a Mexican restaurant.
Brunch at Loco Pez

The three locations of Loco Pez serve up straightforward Cal-Mex in the form of numerous tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Their long list of beer and tequilas hits the spot, especially if you find yourself here on one of the dollar taco nights. We’re partial to brunch for the chilaquiles or the outstanding charro skillet that includes carne asada topped with mole and a fried egg–my husband proclaimed it one of the best things he’s ever eaten.

Juana Tamale

Chopsticks holding noodles above a cup of birria ramen.
Birria ramen at Juana Tamale

Carnivores and vegans alike can rejoice at the varied options at Juana Tamale in East Passyunk.

The star at this BYO restaurant is undoubtedly the birria tacos. Served with consommé and stuffed with cheese and tender beef, an order of three assures you won’t need to eat again for a long time. My favorite thing is grabbing one of the tacos alongside the birria ramen, which is packed with beef, cheese, and green onions. If you prefer to skip the meat, vegan quesabirria tacos are a great option.

The menu includes a huge variety of Mexican (and very much not Mexican) dishes like quesadillas, Mexi-pizza, chicken carnitas tacos with slow-braised chicken, and seitan wings tossed in Buffalo or Thai chili sauce. And, of course, tamales. Most recently, chef-owner Jennifer Zavala is filling the huge gap left by the Phillies discontinuing their “dollar dog nights” by doing her own for every home game.

La Calaca Feliz

Nachos and guacamole in dishes on a table.
La Calaca Feliz’s loaded nachos

Whether you’re toasting with margaritas on the cozy patio or digging into a pile of nachos in the mural-covered dining room, La Calaca Feliz has several spaces to enjoy its contemporary Mexican cooking. The Fairmount restaurant has quesadillas, enchiladas, and plenty of tacos to choose from.  

Start off with the esquites guacamole topped with grilled corn and queso fresco and follow up with the carnitas tacos or enchilada mixto to try a little bit of everything. The Santana margarita and Ranch Water cocktail are perfect beverage selections whatever you’re eating. For brunch, huevos rancheros is a personal favorite, though there’s lots to choose from. We’ve eaten here more times than we care to admit, and the service and food are consistently good.


Bubbling Mexican food in a black lava bowl.
Molcajete de carne in a heated bowl

For nearly 40 years, Tequila’s has brought Mexican food to Rittenhouse Square. One of the city’s first authentic Mexican restaurants, its large bar and dining rooms full of white tablecloth-draped tables make for an upscale setting. But that doesn’t mean an evening here is stuffy—look no further than the server who balances cocktails on his head for proof of that.

Start off with seafood ceviche and queso fundido topped with huitlacoche for an indulgent first course. For mains, it’s impossible to go wrong. We love the molcajete de carne served bubbling in a heated lava bowl and the carne asada a la tampiqueña, a marinated strip steak with a tamal and a chicken taquito. The churros are a must-try for dessert.

We last ate at Tequila’s just 48 hours before a fire forced them to close temporarily. Keep an eye out for a reopening date.

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