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South of the Border

Pictured: Distrito

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Latin Flavor

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Though it might be best known for cheesesteaks, hoagies and soft pretzels, Philadelphia continues to emerge as one of the country’s finest culinary destinations. The addition of exceptional restaurants with Spanish and/or Latin American influences like Amada, Alma de Cuba, Cuba Libre, Chifa and *Bar Ferdinand in recent years has further incited the city’s red-hot dining scene.

From trendy hot spots in Old City and Rittenhouse Square to authentic neighborhood storefronts in El Barrio and South Philadelphia, you’ll experience an explosion of flavors at Philadelphia’s popular and lesser known Latin-inspired eateries.

Featured Listings

  • Distrito

    Tapas and tequila reign at this deliciously over-the-top Mexican hot spot

    Distrito by Iron Chef Jose Garces

    At Distrito, Jose Garces’ two-story Mexican outpost in University City, incredible tapas dishes mingle with a funky (and mostly pink) décor — including the restaurant’s famous Volkswagen Beetle booth — to bring you a thoroughly entertaining night out.

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  • El Vez

    Stephen Starr’s dazzling Mexican outpost

    El Vez in Midtown Village

    Located on a hot corner in the burgeoning Midtown Village, El Vez, named after the Mexican Elvis, serves lunch and dinner. Try the margaritas.

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  • Amada

    Iron Chef Jose Garces’ first Philadelphia restaurant

    Amada by Iron Chef Jose Garces

    At Old City’s Amada, chef Jose Garces has created the city’s grandest tapas restaurant, complete with a wall of wooden sangria casks, cured hams and cheeses hanging over the main bar and a menu that ranges from traditional — tortilla espanola, Spanish olives, warm fava bean salad — to edgy — foie gras flatbreads and artichoke and spinach empanadas.

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  • Tortilleria y San Roman

    Tortilla heaven

    It doesn’t look like much from the outside, San Roman is known far and wide for its calentitas (hot and fresh tortillas), delicious tortilla chips and spicy scratchmade salsa.

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  • Paloma

    Superlative Mexican fare sans tortillas

    Haute Mexican—mushroom flan, huitlacoche mousse-stuffed duck, poblano-touched corn chowder—is the draw at this refined BYOB. Dinner here ends with no-kidding desserts such as mojito layer cake with a scoop of mango habanero sorbet.

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  • Mad Mex

    Hot spot for cool margaritas

    Huge margaritas wash down the tasty Mexican fare at the University City outpost of this tequila bar. The terrace gets especially crowded during happy hour, when margaritas are cheap and hot wings are half-off.

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  • Honest Tom’s Tacos

    Food truck turned laid-back taqueria

    Honest Tom’s

    “Honest” Tom McCusker parlayed a successful food truck into this low-key, living room-chill taqueria, which doles out the tortilla-wrapped goodness from morning (breakfast tacos!) to evening. Breakfast tacos overflowingwith bacon, potatoes, tomatoes and fresh guacamole draw crowds from all over the city. BYO Tecate, leaving the hot sauce to them.

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  • Copabanana

    Can’t miss Tex-Mex cuisine

    Margaritas, burgers, Spanish fries and Tex-Mex dinners served by friendly waiters make this a popular happy hour spot. The plentiful outside seating makes this a happening place in warm weather months.

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  • Las Bugambilias

    Reliable, mouthwatering Mexican food

    Quick with tasty, authentic apps and entrees and even quicker with stiff margaritas, Bugambilias does everything well, but their calling card is the seafood of Veracruz, chef Carlos Molina’s hometown.

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  • El Gallo Pinto

    Home-cooked Nicaraguan and Central American fare

    Primarily a grocery store and bodega, El Gallo Pinto offers a small amount of seating to sit and enjoy home-cooked Nicaraguan and Central American fare — uncommon in this part of town. Don’t miss the house-specialty nacatamales, deeply flavorful masa bombs wrapped in banana leaves.

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  • Pura Vida

    Simple and delicious Latin food

    Its name comes from a Costa Rican slogan that roughly translates into “this is living,” and the homey food at this bare-bones, pan-Latin BYOB is indeed life-affirming.

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  • Las Cazuelas

    Bring your own tequila

    Those hungry for south-of-the-border far can satisfy a craving for mole, sopes, tamales or mixed-to-order margaritas at this authentic Mexican BYOB spot.

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  • El Camino Real

    BBQ and Burritos abound

    Texas or Mexico? Seitan or sirloin? Local brew or Dos Equis? The menu options seem endless at El Camino Real, Bar Ferdinand’s progeny that splits allegiances as a barbecue post and border bar.

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