Anyone who’s shopped the 9th Street Market lately will tell you the moniker “Italian” no longer suits. Sure, DiBruno’s, Claudio’s, Giordano’s, Esposito’s and Sonny D’Angelo’s still flourish. But so do a growing number of Mexican grocerias and taquerias. The latter, literally “taco shops,” are known for their quick, casual, inexpensive — and authentic — fare: cilantro-dusted chorizo tacos, fruity Boing sodas, and, if you time it right, superb tamales swaddled in corn husks or plantain leaves. In Mexico, these delightful bundles of steamed masa dough, stuffed with chicken or pork and red or green salsa or mole, are traditionally reserved for fiestas. At the market, tamales appear most weekends, when friendly Acapulco serves pillowy, fiery-sweet tamales en hoja de plátano for $2 apiece, and $1.50 buys one of these hearty tamales mole en hoja de maiz at Prima Pizza, a workaday taqueria that doubles as a by-the-slice stand — an apt combination for this melting-pot strip. Acapulco Restaurant,1144 South 9th Street, 215-465-1616; Prima Pizza Taqueria Mexicana, 1104 South 9th Street, 215-339-5000.
Taste: Eat This Now: Tamales
Originally published in Philadelphia Magazine, June 2009