Another Saturday night, and Todd is hungry. So am I, for that matter, so what better thing to do than catch the R5 train into the thriving metropolis that is Philadelphia and blow the foam off a couple exotic brews while munching mussels at Monk's? If you've been reading the blog, you'll recall my so-so review of Monk's Old City sister, Eulogy. I'll dispel any dramatic tension for you:
We didn't go to Monk's.
Well, we went there, but it was a total cluster-, uh, cluster of people (this IS a family-oriented blog), so we put a name down just in case and hustled around the corner to one of my favorite Mexican joints, Tequila's. Quick aside: I realize most of my reviews have been pretty Mexican food-centric, but hey, tough, it's where I eat. And those are usually the places where excitement find us - keep reading.
Tequila's was less hopping than I expected for a Saturday night at nine. Todd and I brushed past a harried hostess and ensconced ourselves at the bar. Or rather, we tried, but some guy was sitting between two empty seats. Enter: Terry (obviously the guy mentioned in the previous sentence - you're not much of a close reader, are you?) Terry moved to one side to accommodate us ; the night was looking up. We ordered a pair of Tequila's house margaritas (rocks and salt, duh, as if there's any other way to drink 'em) and settled in for the final minutes of the Sixers game as we decided what to do (grab a table here or hold out for Monk's). Terry and I got to talking when I noticed a strange-looking appetizer appear before him. To my unexpecting eye it looked like stir-fried chili peppers, which Terry scooped up apprehensively with a corn tortilla and chomped on with a certain air of trepidation (again, the suspense). Of course I asked...
...grasshoppers. Terry's friend, the congenial bartender Don, had recommended a not-listed-on-the-menu-for-obvious-reasons alternative to chips and guac: DIY pan-fried grasshopper taquitos. I expressed interest, he offered, and I have to say the grasshopper faire was pretty yummy. I'm not sure if it was the insects themselves that were piquant, or the mole-like glaze that accompanied them, but I was impressed by the taste and the satisfying crunch. I regaled the bar with stories of my termite banquets in Belize and willingness to eat almost anything that won't try to leave my mouth.
After grasshoppers, we opted for some pre-dinner snifters of the house tequila, which was deep, silver, and vaguely reminiscent of Patron. It went down with the dull fire of good sipping tequila, which we cut with some ice-cold Pacifico. When in Rome, right?
After a few more pleasantries and a promise to meet up with T for some carousing later, Todd and I took a table in back and gorged ourselves on guacamole (again, even better than El Vez...I'm starting to doubt their awesomeness), fundido (a more massive, but ultimately simpler presentation than Lolita), and once again tempted fate with the carne asada order.
In other words, we basically replicated our meal at Lolita at this OTHER Philadelphia Mexican joint. Overall, I was impressed. The steak was done perfectly and melted in my mouth - no chewiness this time, just a couple succulent cuts presented perfectly alongside a chicken taquito, pork tamal, and various typical Mexican accoutrements (black beans, rice, guac).
Stuffed and happy, we departed Tequila's, our lives enriched by grasshopper nibblings and booze on the house...but that's another story.
Try Tequila's the next time you're in Philly. We'll go with you.
1602 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102