Philly Tacos: A laid-back family-run taqueria
In the growing Point Breeze neighborhood, a Mexican entrepreneur offers a wide variety of taco options, emphasizing styles both classic and unique.
About a year ago, Mexican entrepreneur Juan Carlos Romero decided to move his restaurant, Los Taquitos de Puebla, westward. What had once been a staple of Ninth Street Mexican cuisine in the Italian Market moved to Point Breeze, this time with a focus on making the clients feel at home.
“Our main goal is giving attention to the client,” said Romero. “After eating in different restaurants in Center City, we saw how good service could be. We try to make sure people feel welcome here.”
“Our clients are like family,” added Romero’s wife Lluli Pilar Elias, who works at the front of the restaurant. “We believe having good service and good food is the best way to run a restaurant.”
The menu is more or less the same classic Mexican offerings as the prior location, but the new name, Philly Tacos, emphasizes the delicious tacos on offer.
“We were the first taqueria taqueria in Philadelphia,” explained Romero. “People know us for our tacos, but we offer a variety of traditional Mexican dishes.”
Among the most popular plates are the chiles rellenos (poblano peppers stuffed with melted cheese or pork and other spices), enchiladas (corn tortillas filled with pork and covered in sauce) and alambres (layers of meat, vegetables, tortilla and cheese). The goal is to make everything as fresh and quickly as possible. The restaurant sometimes has daily specials, but generally sticks to the classic menu.
Many different types of tacos are available. Steak, shortribs, fresh pork chop and chorizo are some of the classics, but the Al Pastor tacos are especially to die for. Romero was one of the first in the city to offer the delicious “shepherd” tacos from a revolving spit.
There are also more unusual flavors, such as tacos with beef tongue, cheek, eyes and mouth. I tried the beef eye taco, which had an unusually soft gooey texture. But if you’d rather avoid the meat altogether, you can enjoy vegetarian tacos filled with green peppers or cactus with cheese.
To drink, Philly Tacos has classic Mexican sodas. The restaurant is a BYOB so you can bring your own beer, wine or liquor, and the staff is happy to make mixed drinks for you.
“We invite people to bring tequila and we will make them margaritas,” said Romero. “Many people come after work and just want to enjoy tacos with a glass of wine or another drink.”
On Sundays, Philly Tacos closes up shop to go to the Headhouse Farmers Market in Old City from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to serve a sampling of the menu. The restaurant also offers catering services for special events such as weddings, graduations, birthday parties and office gatherings.
Romero’s foray into the restaurant business began in 2002 when he moved to Philadelphia from Mexico City and had to find a way to survive.
“Like many immigrants, I came to the U.S. looking for opportunities and a better life,” explained Romero. “I fell in love with Philadelphia for its gastronomy, nightlife and many cultural offerings.”
Romero and Pilar are advocates for immigration and criminal justice reform. One wall of the restaurant displays slogans such as “No ban, no wall sanctuary for all” and #ShutDownBerks.
“This is work that we believe is necessary,” said Romero.
For more information about Philly Tacos, check out their website, Facebook or Twitter. Address: 2011 S. Reed Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146. Hours: Monday – Friday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prices: $6-$16.