I took a quick trip to Philadelphia last week and oddly enough I don’t think I’ve ever had tacos in the city of “Brotherly Love.” I spent my early 20’s up until I was 24 in the area. Having lived and graduated from college outside of the city, I’ve always been familiar with the town. For a quick two days my girlfriend, who is also my fellow taco taste tester and I saw a concert and toured the city. After checking out the Marvel exhibit (worth seeing! available until September 2, 2019) at the Franklin institute we walked over to El Rey.
El Rey was quite busy at 6 PM for Taco Tuesday, its seems like the go to place for an after work happy hour. Inside we found margaritas in everyone’s hand; a packed house we decided to order take out so we could get ready for the concert. Our hostess was kind and the customers were just as nice and friendly.
Let’s touch on the decor for a quick second; unique, inside you’ll find mid century pieces like a starburst light by the door and a plethora of vintage luchador wrestling match advertisements. Overall I really liked the interior, best way to describe it is think of that movie “Blast From The Past” , the bunker/house where Brandon Frazier’s character grows up…that one.
We ordered three brisket tacos, three chicken tacos and for good measure two Elote (Mexican Street Corns). We grabbed an Uber and headed back to Penn’s View Hotel in Old City. Stereo typically we watched “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” as we ate (it was that episode were they sneak beer on a dry cruise).
First up let’s talk about the street corn, common issue, it wasn’t roasted let’s call it served soaking wet. The spice and flavor were bland and lacking, not too sure how to describe the corn, it was sweet corn but I guess over cooked, soggy, and maybe sitting in water all day.
The corn already left me terrified, I was rightly worried diving into the tacos. The tacos are double wrapped, I removed the second tortilla and took a bite. That first bite into the tortilla makes or quite literally breaks the taco. The tortilla was well…thick, rubbery, maybe too much oil, under-cooked, it was well…bad. Let’s talk about about the inside of the taco, after all, they say that’s what matters most, the inside. I love a good brisket taco, the meat was tender, there was a large chunk of fat in one of the tacos, good spice to it, but overall a poor balance of flavor. I didn’t really get anything from the meat, the flavor solely came from the sauce. Each taco came topped with alfalfa sprouts and thinly sliced radishes. (pickled cabbage on the chicken tacos)
I tried one of the chicken tacos as well, while tender, the chicken seemed to be a little better when it came to flavor. Again the chicken taco suffered the same issue as the brisket…the tortillas were poorly made.
So overall I’d drop El Rey 2 points based on the tortilla. The spot seems like a great place for drinks given the atmosphere, but not a go to for Mexican food.
- Solid Taco Review Score: 5/10
- Taco Price: $10 for three tacos
- Location(s): Philadelphia, Pa (few blocks from Rittenhouse Square)