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South of the Border

Pictured: Distrito

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Latin Flavor

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  • Adobe Cafe

    Southwestern supping in South Philly

    This Southwest-style, vegetarian-friendly abode features house-made sangria, generous happy hour specials and karaoke every Saturday night. Sports enthusiasts practically get a front-row seat to the game from any spot at the U-shaped bar.

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  • Alma De Cuba

    Stephen Starr tips his hat to chic Cuban cuisine

    Alma De Cuba

    Meet for a few drinks at the popular first floor bar, where classic Cuban cocktails such as mojitos and daiquiris flow freely.

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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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  • BlueCat

    This Latin-American BYOB is the cat’s meow

    The husband-and-wife restaurant veterans who own this sunny BYOB share their love of Latin food, along with their affection for their Russian Blue cat, evidenced by the huge mural of the feline. The lunch, dinner and brunch dishes range from empanadas and arroz con pollo to salads and sandwiches.

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  • Cafe Chismosa

    Vinyl and vittles

    Global DJ-turned-chef Jugo Stevcic runs Chismosa, a Latin-inspired cafe and coffee shop with sweet stacks of records for your perusal.

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  • Cantina Dos Segundos

    Creative Mexican cusine and tasty margaritas

    Like its Passyunk Avenue sibling Cantina Los Caballitos, the second Cantina serves up creative Mexican fare such as vegan “beef” tacos and slow-roasted goat, along with flights of tequila, 11 different margaritas (think prickly pear, blood orange and guava) and a fiesta-like atmosphere.

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  • Cantina Los Caballitos

    Hip Mexican fare and local brews in South Philly

    Cantina Los Caballitos

    Part restaurant, part bar, Cantina draws a pretty diverse and eclectic clientele. Longtime locals mix with neighborhood newbies… and even folk from Center City make their way this far south to experience the food and fun at Cantina.

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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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  • Cuba Libre

    A little bit of Old Havana in Old City

    Cuba Libre

    This popular Old City spot is designed to resemble a street scene in Havana — and you can’t beat the mojitos.

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  • 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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • El Zarape

    Simple eats from south of the border

    Hungry patrons can count on hearty portions of authentic Mexican cuisine from breakfast until dinner in a simple dining room with big, perfect-for-people-watching windows. Next door, the grocery store stocks pastries and staples.

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  • Garces Trading Company

    The Iron Chef opens an all-in-one culinary destination and wine boutique

    Garces Trading Company

    Situated in a large space in the Washington Square West neighborhood, Garces Trading Company — a gourmet market and cafe — is the sixth Philadelphia restaurant by Iron Chef Jose Garces.

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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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  • Isabel

    Mexi-Cali flavor

    This BYOB, from the owners of nearby Asian fave Trio, doesn’t stick to one avenue of Mexican cooking — traditional dishes have their place alongside modern twists on Latin sabor.

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  • Isla Verde

    A little bit of South Beach in Philadelphia

    Isla Verde

    Delicious Nuevo Latino cuisine and a trendy new nightspot

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  • Jose’s Tacos

    Affordable and delicious Mexican cuisine

    A down-home corner taqueria with a bare-bones ambiance, Jose’s does a brisk lunchtime and pre-concert business.

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  • La Calaca Feliz

    Elevated, crowd-pleasing Mexican fare

    Boasting muraled walls, this Sibling of Fort Washington’s Cantina Feliz serves modern Mexican cuisine and pours a few dozen tequilas.

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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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  • 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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  • Loco Pez

    One taste and you’ll join the Pez Heads

    Loco Pez

    Patrons at this Mexican gastropub swear by the 10 kinds of tacos (carne asada, seitan and spinach, chorizo and potato) offered as low-priced singles, encouraging eaters to try as many varieties as they can.

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  • Lolita

    Delicious, contemporary Mexican cuisine with a “B-Y-O-Tequila” twist

    Three words: Don’t forget to bring your own tequila. The kitchen will take care of the rest.

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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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  • Mixto Restaurant

    Cuban, Latin and Carribean flavors collide

    Latin-American and Caribbean plates are the specialty at Mixto.

    Latin-American and Caribbean plates are the specialty at Mixto, a neighborhood favorite on Antique Row on Pine Street.

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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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  • 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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  • Reading Terminal Market

    America’s oldest farmers’ market

    Delicious Pennyslvania Dutch pies and baked goods? Yes, please.

    Established in 1892 at 12th and Arch Streets, Reading Terminal is the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market. Today, this indoor foodie paradise is a one-stop shop for everything from local produce and meats to artisanal cheeses and incredibly delicious desserts and baked goods. It’s also home to the “best sandwich in America.”

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  • Sazon

    Hearty Venezuelan dishes for all appetites

    Venezuelan cuisine comes alive at this homey bring-your-own-bottle (BYO) spot.

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