You may have braved the traffic to the Jersey Shore, Center City Sipped on Wednesdays after work, or sweated through too many 90 degree days, but if you haven’t had a fish taco, it isn’t summer yet. SoCal has already staked the claim for best fish tacos in all the land, but Philly holds its own when it comes to this stalwart of handheld, beach-y summer noshing. Here are six spots that you need to get to this weekend.
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
In addition to talking hotels, Stephen Starr is also expanding his presence in New York. Starr tells the New York Times that he is planning to open an El Vez in Battery Park City.
New York’s El Vez, which will be in the Goldman-Sachs building will be bigger than the Philadelphia location with more than 200 seats. If all goes according to plan, Starr aims to open in late 2013.
Stephen Starr to Bring El Vez to Financial District [New York Times]
Here’s the 2011 liquor purchasers in Philadelphia for 2011. This factors out wine purchases from the state. All that tequila really runs up the bill at El Vez. Note, this isn’t what the bars sold the alcohol for, but rather how much they purchased it for from the PLCB.
Total Spirits Money Spent
Want to play around with the full list of 200 top wine and spirits purchasers in Philadelphia for 2011? Check out our sortable chart of the Top 200 PLCB Licensees for Philadelphia in 2011.
To celebrate the start of the school year some Starr Restaurants have added student specials to their menus. With student ID the specials range from free snacks and discounts off your check to a $29 three-course dinner at Pod. Read more on this menu, more specials, and how to win a dinner for two after the jump. Read more »
Over the weekend 59 teams competed in the Garry Maddox-Stephen Starr Barbecue Challenge, but only one came out on top. The team at Carolina Blue Smokehouse and Taproom (pictured above) of Pitman, New Jersey was the ultimate champion. The team fended off competitors from both the restaurant and amateur Pit Master divisionsto win tickets to the 2012 World Series.
More than a dozen judges including Phillies alumni and Philly restaurateurs and chefs like Jen Zavala and Sylva Senat worked their way through every entry (poor guys!) to come up with the results.
Winners in each category »
I just read this nonsense about Jason Sheehan being accused of bribing a waiter with $50 for a table at some restaurant, in some city other than Philadelphia. Apparently, this is worthy of national news—or at least the food blog version of national news. Jason went on to issue a denial of the horrendous charges, but wait a second, it’s not bribery, and it’s not wrong.
ElÂ Vez is celebratingÂ ElÂ Dia de Los Muertos on Saturday, October 30thÂ with a costume contest, passed hors dâ€™oeurves and a late night happy hour from 11pm to 1am. Happy Hour will consist of $3 draft beers and $5 margaritas. There will also be a Â live DJ from 10pm to 2am and Dulce Vida Tequila is sponsoring a complimentary tequila tasting too.