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Taco con pollo asado, taco crujiente con carnitas, tortilla de harina con carne molida. Foto: Eli Siegel
Taco with pollo asado, crispy taco with carnitas, flour tortilla with ground beef. Photo: Eli Siegel

El Taco and Burritos: The Mexican food of your dreams

Check out this hip restaurant in University City, designed to give college students (and everyone) a relaxing place to enjoy Mexican-inspired food.

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Nestled in the back of Drexel University’s campus, near the intersection of 33rd Street and Powelton Avenue, El Taco and Burritos serves up tasty Mexican-inspired dishes in a fast-casual setting. Owners Edna and Alvaro Luna got their start with the restaurant in 2017 when Alvaro’s best friend from college, Brett Weinheimer, approached them about opening a place of their own.

“Brett had owned a restaurant at the location that had gone out of business,” said Alvaro. “He had been eating my wife’s food for years and thought it would be a good concept for a restaurant.”

Edna’s extensive cooking expertise came from her mother in Guatemala.

“When I was 14 years old, my mom had her own restaurant in Guatemala. She made different salsas alongside Guatemalan and Mexican cuisine. That’s where I learned how to cook.”

Although Edna was prepared in the kitchen, neither she nor Alvaro had experience running a restaurant business. Alvaro had been a strategy consultant and Edna had worked in graphic design. The two met in Guatemala while Alvaro was building an apartment complex there and needed someone to help him with publicity.

“On our first date, she came to my house with a pan full of lasagna,” said Alvaro. “I knew from that moment this was something special.”

The idea behind the restaurant is not to serve traditional Mexican classics, but instead Mexican-inspired dishes that college students love and don’t get a lot of in the area.

“There are six pizza places within a two block radius from here,” explained Alvaro. “We want to give college students another option.”

Among the most popular dishes on the menu are the crispy tacos (corn tacos filled with your choice of meat, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream) and quesadillas (grilled flour tortillas filled with your choice of meat, cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo).  They also offer housemade salsas, such as the best selling creamy chipotle, super macho (made with habanero) and smoky guajillo.

My personal favorite was the steak quesadillas that were cooked to perfection with a crispy outer shell and a creamy smooth filling and the super macho sauce. They also offer dessert dishes like the apple empanada topped with caramel.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can participate in the El Macho Burrito challenge. El Macho Burrito is a six-pound burrito filled with black beans, cilantro rice, a choice of meat, cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo. Finish it in 10 minutes, you get your picture on their El Macho Wall and social media. Finish it under 5 minutes, you get the previous prize plus free merch from El Taco. The current best time is 3 minutes and 5 seconds.

The excitement surrounding the food is evident in the restaurant’s atmosphere. There is a near constant flow of college students who genuinely look forward to coming in.

“I love the crispy tacos. I dream about them in my sleep,” said Allie Fishman, a frequent visitor to El Taco. “Everybody is so friendly here.”

To learn more about El Taco and Burritos check out their website eltacoandburritos.com or their Facebook @eltacoandburritos. Address: 3233 Powelton Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19104. Hours: Monday - Thursday 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday closed. Prices: $7.15 - $14.  

 

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