That time we flew to Philly just to eat at South Philly Barbacoa
A meal worth the 2 hour plane ride.
That time we...it's often how a bunch of these stories start. An idea, the motivation to make it happen, maybe a tank of gas or a couple hundred bucks.
This time we went to South Philly Barbacoa, an unreal taco spot serving authentic lamb barbacoa, pork pancita, lamb consume and freshly made everything. It's been featured as one of the 10 best restaurants in the country by Bon Appetite magazine, when that issue hit our doorstep we knew a trip was in short order. I've been a pretty big Mexicophile for a while and this trip was the icing on the cake.
I met a friend coming in from NYC for this trip and we both got into Philly on friday am. South Philly Barbacoa is only open on Saturday's and Sundays so we booked a small Airbnb for the Friday night stay. Our day consisted of bar hopping sampling local bar specials which Philly is known for, how can you go wrong with a shot and a beer for under $5.
We had nothing on the itinerary except breakfast at South Philly Barbacoa, we hit a small Italian deli for lunch in-between bars, did a good bit of walking, saw the Liberty Bell, you know...Philly Things. Close to dinner we were hungry for a quick snack and a drink and happened into Tequilas Restaurant for a few glasses of mezcal and rare blanco tequilas. After a long chat with the bartender we were introduced to the man himself, David Suro. A genius chef and Tequilero behind the Siembra Azul Tequila line. David was a great host, sharing stories and flavor profiles to the couple of things we had been sipping on. It was an amazing spotlight of the great things to come the following morning.
There was already a decent sized line forming as we walked up, maybe we shouldn't have stopped for coffee on the long walk down? Luckily the line was moving quickly. When we finally got in we ordered big, 1/2 kilo big. The family meals come with everything you'd want to be a full fledged gluten. It says it serves 2-3, but that's only because it comes with 2 bowls of consume. A 3rd person could have easily helped and also been full enough to roll down the street. The 1/2 kilo is just lamb (or pork pancita) plus 2 bowls of consume, tortillas, onion, cilantro, limes, salsa verde, salsa roja, castus salad and a variety of pickled things, carrots, jalapenos and such. In hindsight we shouldn't have ordered additional pancita.
The meal was unfathomably good. 5 star restaurants don't cook this well. Every flavor was up to 11. Ever had something that was so good, you were bursting at the seams and still put down another taco? Yeah, that was this. So good you can continue to taste it years later. So good you tried doing it on your own since, complete with cooking the lamb under ground. That recipe is coming soon, in the meantime, if you're in Philly, skip the cheesesteaks, this was a vastly better meal.
In hindsight we should have ordered the additional pancita!
Visit: March of 2018
Name: South Philly Barbacoa
Address: 1140 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 Hours: Sat-Sun 5am-3pm
Name: Tequilas Restaurant
Address: 1602 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19103