The Philly Mag 50: Restaurants 1 to 20

20. Xochitl
20. Xochitl
The kitchen at this Headhouse Square spot doesn’t rely on the standard tricks to make great Mexican food. You won’t find salsas, cheeses, cilantro or sour cream loaded on tortillas or doused on meats. Don’t fret, you’ll get your Mexican fix at Xochitl, but it comes through slow cooking, deep spices and layered flavors. Lamb, braised until it falls apart, is balanced with sweet roasted scallions and pickled chilies. Seared duck breast is bathed in an intense mole poblano sauce with a surprise of a duck leg tamale on the side. And the mini-menu of ceviches and the guacamole made tableside are shining examples of chef Dionicio Jiménez’s simple approach — the ingredients speak for themselves. The bar works just as hard, with a menu that’s much more than margaritas (though we love those, too). In the “Señor Barriga,” woodsy thyme leaves, spicy jalapeños, lime and sugar are muddled with tequila; “My Frozen Beer” is an ice-cold brew mixed with lime and spicy tomato juice

Pictured: Slow-cooked lamb with cactus salad and guacamole

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