Where to Eat This Weekend: In the Mood for Mexican
After the February departure of chef Dioncio Jimenez, owners Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov didn’t just hire a new chef (Lucio Palazzo); they overhauled the interior and the menu. A casual cantina vibe reigns — adios, white tablecloths; hola, cheery waiters clad in soccer jerseys — and the food, now at a lower price point, is as good as ever, though it could arrive at the table faster. Crackly chicharrones (pictured) are just right dipped in fiery salsa verde; a cool jicama-watermelon salad tempered by avocado tempers any spice. Velvety scallop ceviche in a jalepeno-cucumber broth and the nutty mole-slathered pork-cheek tacos are both excellent. Save room for the piping-hot churros and their addictive sugar-and-cinnamon crunch. BONUS: Xochitl is also participating in Restaurant Week and will offer their $35 RW menu on Saturday night as well. See the menu here.
Xochitl, 408 South 2nd Street, 215-238-7280; xochitlphilly.com
The first incarnation of Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken, with its spacious patio where the crowd looks like an Abercrombie & Fitch ad clutching margaritas, has been a success since it first opened in 1996. The newer 175-seat West Chester spot is spectacular: a 1930s bank transformed into a double-height tile-and-lattice Mexican hacienda, with a soaring fireplace and rooftop seating for another 100 in summer months. Authentic fish and meat dishes, are on both menus, alongside Americanized thirst-inducers like nachos and enchiladas.
Coyote Crossing, 800 Spring Mill Avenue, Conshohocken, 610-825-3000; coyotecrossing.com
It’s big. It’s jubilantly gaudy. It’s Pepto-Bismol pink. It’s loud, it’s young, and its walls sparkle with glittery wrestling masks. You can literally swing from the rafters. (Some seats are actually swings.) Yes, its sensory overload especially the too-good-to-be-true steak nachos but Jose Garces’s foray into the street food of Mexico City is also the most fun we’ve ever had in a restaurant.
Distrito, 3945 Chestnut Street, 215-222-1657; distritorestaurant.com
El Sarape Authentic Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar
You won’t find Southwest or Tex Mex options here. El Sarape satisfies that craving for authentic Mexican with house-made guacamole; center-cut filet mignon topped with chorizo in a chipotle sauce; and whole red snapper. Don’t forget about the tequila bar.
El Sarape Authentic Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar, 1380 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, 610-239-8667;elsarapebluebell.com
It’s got all the makings of a BYOB that just happened to score a liquor license — a small, cheery dining room, the Misses at the tiny afterthought of a bar, relatives serving tables — but South Street’s Las Bugambillias has been full service since day one. Dishes like the cochinita pibil, a slow-cooked mountain of shredded pork and the extra-beefy empanadas are on target.
Las Bugambilias, 148 South Street, 215-922-3190; lasbugambiliasphilly.com
Looking for other ideas? Check our comprehensive restaurant listings database, where you can search for a place to eat by cuisine or neighborhood.