From Taco Tuesdays at Distrito to weekend breakfast tacos at Honest Tom’s, we are lucky enough to have access to several Mexican food options on Penn’s campus. And so, it can be easy to discount the variety of options that exist beyond University City. We’ve rounded up the best, so here are five tacos to try this spring.
1. Tempura Shrimp Tacos from Sancho Pistola’s
These two soft tacos come with tempura shrimp, cilantro, pepitas, tom yum aioli and pineapple pico. The generous portion of shrimp is delicious, and the tacos themselves are a perfect mix of savory and sweet.
Not interested? Sancho Pistola’s taco menu is one of the most extensive in Philly, with 11 “land tacos” and six “sea tacos,” so there is sure to be something for everyone. The same menu can be found at Sancho Pistola’s brother restaurant, José Pistola’s, which located a bit closer to Center City.
2. Mac Daddy Tacos from Heffe Tacos
Heffe Tacos is a small, walk-up taco restaurant opened by the chef behind Paesano’s. Heffe’s motto is “Tacos That Don’t Suck,” and this manifests itself in a menu that is anything but traditional.
A standout is the Mac Daddy: for $8, you get two tacos stuffed with beef cheek, red chimichurri, queso fresco, butternut squash and mustard. Pro tip: take advantage of the upcoming warm weather by eating the tacos outside on Heffe’s red picnic benches.
3. Portobello Tacos from El Rey
Tacos aren’t necessarily the focal point at El Rey, a Mexican restaurant by Stephen Starr. Instead, they’re tucked onto the side of the menu with little description of their contents. That said, ignoring them – and particularly the Portobello Tacos – would be a mistake. As I am not a vegetarian, I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful these tacos were. Wrapped in a corn tortilla are juicy mushrooms, a layer of guacamole and fried shallots that have brought me back time and time again.
4. Chipotle BBQ Brisket Tacos from Revolution Taco
Relatively new, Revolution Taco is a taco shop created by the owners of three different food trucks in Philadelphia. The result is a unique menu with the tagline “Tacos Without Borders” (although they also serve burritos, empanadas and chips).
My favorite taco is the Tex-Mex style Chipotle BBQ Brisket taco, which comes with a ginger cabbage slaw, pickled jalapeños and crispy shallots. For an Asian-inspired taco, go for the Roast Duck. It is accompanied by ginger cabbage slaw, pickled oyster mushroom and sesame, and it is wrapped in a scallion pancake shell with plum BBQ sauce. YUM.
5. Fish Tacos from Taqueria Feliz
Taqueria Feliz is a fun and low-key Mexican restaurant run by the owners of the comparatively formal La Calaca Feliz in Manayunk. Along with more intriguing options, such as the Cauliflower Tacos (with roasted cauliflower, honey lime yogurt dressing, avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes and a red chile garbanzo puree), they also offer delicious tempura battered fish tacos that will let you forget that you are in Philly.