- Neighborhood: Center City East, Washington Square West
- 121 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA
- Phone: 215-928-9800
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Price: $$
- Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
On Friday, April 25th, Stephen Starr is opening his New York City version of El Vez. The 190-seat bar and restaurant is opening at 259 Vesey Street, in the Battery Park City neighborhood. The menu has been developed by executive chef David LaForce, who also has worked at the Philadelphia location of El Vez and a Starr task force that includes James Tracey, the culinary director for STARR Restaurants and chef Dionicio Jimenez of Starr’s El Rey.
“The most fun restaurant in town” is throwing a party. That can only be a great time, right?
This’ll be year two for 13th Street staple El Vez’s Cinco de Mayo block party, and like last year, they’ll be closing off the whole block between Sansom and Walnut to make room for all the eating and drinking that’ll take place. There will be pop-up food and drink stands serving up Pibil Pork Tacos, Chicken Tinga Tacos, grilled corn on the cob, guacamole, and house-made tortilla Chips. Margaritas and select beers, too.
On top of that, a free concert from conveniently named “El Vez” is scheduled for the late afternoon. From what I hear, “El Vez”, aka Robert “The Mexican Elvis” Lopez, puts on quite the show, so dance the night away and slurp down at least five margaritas, because I don’t think any other Mexican place* in the city can throw a Cinco de Mayo party like the most fun restaurant in town.
*Pro Tip: Starr’s other Mexican joint, El Rey, will be offering a special Cinco de Mayo menu from May 3rd-May 5th. But with no Mexican Elvises, that’s not nearly so exciting.
Because I was tired of hearing overeducated food types in Philadelphia talk a ton of smack about Stephen Starr’s always-packed Mexican joint El Vez, I decided to put the restaurant to the test with a demanding Saturday-night birthday party 10-top, including some fussy suburban eaters and one each of the picky-eater and vegetarian species. We ordered beers. We ordered margaritas. We ordered a wide range of food. And we dropped $40-plus in the photo booth, where, yes, my shirt came off. (Pictures available upon request.) Not a bad plate or drink was served. The server didn’t stumble once. And we made it out the door for under $40 per person. You can hate all you want, haters, but the fact is, El Vez may be the most fun restaurant in town.
121 South 13th Street
First appeared in the April 2013 edition of Philadelphia magazine