Korea Taqueria Finds a Groove With Bulgogi Beef Birria

With its entrepreneurial spirit and rejection of tradition, the Grays Ferry takeout spot epitomizes Philly’s evolving food scene.

Korea Taqueria

Korea Taqueria owner Alexander Sherack doling out tacos from the business’s food truck / Photograph by Huy Dinh

Korea Taqueria was born mobile: a former halal food cart refitted to serve bulgogi burritos drenched in peanut sauce, breakfast tacos with kimchi to get you going in the morning, and gochujang chicken quesadillas after dark. In the beginning, the project was run by two chefs — Alexander Sherack and Rene Lopez — just looking for a way to smash Korean and Mexican ingredients together and make something new.

And it worked.



Korea Taqueria
3101 Tasker Street, Grays Ferry

CUISINE: Mexican-Korean


Order This: Birria and bulgogi cheesesteaks, all day long.

Though the cart still operates for catering, Korea Taqueria has an address now — roots, on the corner of 31st and Tasker streets in Grays Ferry. There’s nothing to the place but a counter and a register and a plexiglass window showing the crew in the kitchen hard at work.

The food at Korea Taqueria finds the sweet spot between Sherack’s Australian and Korean backgrounds and Lopez’s Mexican American heritage. Exploring how those food cultures come together is how you end up serving grilled shrimp tacos with guacamole and cucumber kimchi, or birria tacos that might be my new favorite version anywhere in the city right now — beautifully tender bulgogi beef between the soft, cheese-stuffed double tortilla wrap, a little cilantro, some chopped onion. That honey-sweet, soy-sharp, slightly smoky flavor is there in the meat. The onions add a sting of acid. The cheese holds everything in place. But dip it in the broth (with heavy notes of tomato and gochujang), and that’s when the taco goes through the roof. That’s when you taste what Sherack and Lopez are really after with this particular brand of street-corner synthesis.

The two bulgogi cheesesteaks on seeded Liscio’s rolls are worth a try. There’s the basic model, piled high and topped with homemade Whiz, and a newer, deluxe version that began as an invention served to staff before service and is now on the board for everyone. This formerly secret sandwich is laced with salsa macha (rough, spicy, thickened with ground nuts), then topped with scallions and melted mozzarella. It’s got that little-bit-of-everything staff-meal feel. Quick, convenient, exactly what a line cook might throw together out of spare parts, and a reminder to celebrate the small victories, like just making it through another day.

Korea Taqueria

Korea Taqueria’s sweet garlic soy fried chicken sandwich

And it is good, man. Not birria-great, maybe, but good. Plus, taken together, these dishes hit on one of the special things about Philly’s food scene right now. Some days, it seems like folks here are all making a go of their hustles, all trying to show the city what growing up tasted like for them. No tables necessary.

And that, more than anything, is why you should be visiting Korea Taqueria. The restaurant world has fewer rules now than it used to. Places like this are where you can see those changes happening in real time.

3 Stars — Come from anywhere in Philly

Rating Key
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in Philly
★★★★: come from anywhere in America

Published as “Street-Corner Synthesis” in the July 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.