The 2009 Philly Mag 50: Restaurants 1 to 25

21. Xochitl
21. Xochitl
Queen Village | Mexican | Entrées: $13-$20
Last Year’s Ranking: 20

A survey of Philly’s culinary landscape proves there’s room for all types of Mexican here, and unrivaled authenticity is Xochitl’s niche. It all starts with chef Dionicio Jimenez—the Mexican native spent time cooking at Vetri, and the rustic sensibility he gives to Latin flavors is reminiscent of what makes that Italian restaurant so special. But rustic doesn’t mean elementary—dishes at this Headhouse Square eatery and bar are complicated and simple at the same time. Lamb is slow-cooked, yet served with an easy cactus salad; pork ribs are braised for hours and accompanied by only guacamole and rice; house-made masa tortillas are finished with a trio of distinct toppings. The result is a rare Mexican eating experience so understated, it makes you wonder if what you’ve eaten everywhere else is just an Americanized version of real Mexican cuisine. Order: The Parrillada, a mixed grill for two. It’s a study in delectably uncomplicated meats. 408 South 2nd Street, 215-238-7280.

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Photograph by Jason Varney


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