Tucked away in South Philly on Wolf Street is quite possibly the best Mexican in Philly—the kind that won’t kill you on the way out. Los Gallos provides big portions for dirt cheap—three tacos for about six dollars. It’s a casual mom-and-pop place with a store in the front and a few tables in the back, the type of joint for people who actually appreciate and enjoy authentic Mexican cusiine.
Los Gallos Mexican Taqueria, 951 Wolf St. 215.551.1245.
Best Spot When You’re Sweaty, Broke and All You Want Is Something Sugary
Forget Capogiro and their overpriced, itsy bitsy cups of gelato—Philly Flavors (AKA “Philly Flaves”) is serving up bangin’ handmade ice cream, frozen yogurt and water ice for crazy cheap. For less than $2, you can get a small cup of their frozen goodness the size of what you’d expect in a large. You can’t really go wrong with any of their water ice flavors, but you absolutely must experience their mind-blowing birthday cake ice cream.
Philly Flavors, 2004 Fairmount Ave. 215.232.7748. phillyflavors.com
Best Totally Awesome In-Shell Escargot
The trouble with snails as a food is that they usually end up looking like shriveled boogers after a hefty night of drinkin’ and smokin’ (albeit bathed in garlic butter). They’re tasty as hell, but for some fearful anti-French dicks, they can’t get behind garlic-buttered boogers. So our friends at Vintage do us the service of making them tasty and delicious, then stuffing them into pretty little shells. They give you fancy tools and send you on a digging adventure. The tender little morsels of chewy, garlicy deliciousness send you into a rapturous state. All praise these humble, slow-moving mollusks.
Vintage, 129 S. 13th St. 215.922.3095. vintage-philadelphia.com
Best Veggie Burger
Did you know that you don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy a veggie burger? It’s a tough concept for people whose brains have been decimated by mad cow disease to comprehend, but it’s true. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean that you can’t sometimes not eat meat. Get it? Most veggie burgers suck, so the skepticism about them is understood. But the veggie jawn over at Sketch Burger is the jam, girlfriend. It’s BIG and it’s a little spicy and, unlike hamburger sammies, it’s healthy and refreshing. Have ‘em slam some vegan tahini sauce and an avocado on that sucker, close your eyes and bite into it.
Sketch Burger, 413 E. Girard Ave. 215.634.3466. sketch-burger.com
Surprisingly Great Vibe And Product Despite a Name That Makes Us Grimace
When you think of food and drink, one of the least desirable associations you’d want to make next is one involving rodents and bugs. Ants, quite rightly, would give you itchy, shake-em-off gyrations and perhaps make you fear for the sanity of the establishment you’ve elected to spend money in. Certainly, if you actually had ants in your pants, you would not be comfortable sitting and having a delicious sandwich, a lovely latte or afternoon snack. And yet somehow the Australian-backed Ants Pants Cafe thrives and delivers a fantastic product and vibe. With a simple, well-executed menu, deliriously charming staff and unfussy but sophisticated ambience, there’s (thankfully) not an ant in sight.
Ants Pants Cafe, 2212 South St. 215.875.8002. antspantscafe.com
Best Place to Get Culturally Cross-Wired
There are very few places in the city where you can go and find a wide selection of authentic Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Mexican cuisine, fresh fish, meat and produce and very famous shitty cheesesteaks all within about a six-block radius. Yet, Washington Ave. between Sixth and 12th streets may just be the epicenter of Philly’s melting pot. Besides the Italian Market, this area is home to two Asian shopping centers—each containing several restaurants with sweet all-you-can-eat deals (like Nam Phuong Restaurant)—and a slew of small Mexican joints like La Veracruzana that are always packed. You don’t need an addresses, just follow the swarms of young Latino men on their bikes completely disregarding traffic laws.
Best Gourmet Hot Dog and Craft Brew Food Truck
The food-truck trend is certainly nothing new in Philly. But as any of the finalists for the 2011 Vendy Awards would likely tell you, a winning food truck’s true genius comes from its unique theme as much as the food it serves. And that’s why we’re so fond of the Memphis Taproom’s affordable new outdoor beer garden, where craft brews come only in aluminum cans, and a dozen different gourmet hotdogs are served from a permanent food truck. The picnic tables and canine-friendly policy lend the place something of a summertime cookout atmosphere.
Memphis Taproom, 2331 E. Cumberland St. 215.425.4460. memphistaproom.com
Best Place to Get Long Hot Wiener on Any Wednesday
We’ve been stuffing ourselves to the gills around here with soul food from every corner of this fair city. And in the Food & Drink Issue you can see where, exactly, we’ve been doing it. Dig in.
Ever think to yourself: Hey, I wonder where I can have a threesome and then promptly forget about it? Well, one of our writers thinks he's found that place. Want Mexican food that doesn't burn on the way out? Of course you do. More of these questions and answers have found their way into this year's Better Than Best issue. And what's better than best, you ask? We have no idea. We just knew we couldn't use Best Of, because another publication in this town has it on lockdown. But that doesn't mean we didn't put an enormous amount of effort into bringing you the most random hidden gems Philly has to offer. Because we did. And we think we've got a pretty good list going on here.
Wine with Mexican Food? Sí!