top of page

South Philly Barbacoa

1140 S 9th St,Philadelphia,Pennsylvania,19147

(215) 694-3797

This is my kind of place!! Of all the restaurants in American, South Philly Barbacoa is near the top of my list. I love the feel of the place. It’s a little joint, with picnic table style eating, that only does a few things, but does them incredibly well. And, those things are poetic in their simplicity and authenticity.

Featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table, the restaurant was born out of necessity by Christina Martinez, a Mexican immigrant fired from her pastry job in a Philadelphia restaurant, because of her illegal status. Needing to make money for her daughter’s schooling in Mexico, she and husband Ben opened a small taco cart serving the food her father taught her to make as a child; lamb barbacoa. Definitely watch the incredible Netflix special to fully appreciate the beauty of the dish’s preparation, and Christina’s journey to becoming a symbol of, and fierce advocate for, immigrant rights.

The restaurant offers signature lamb barbacoa, pancita, pork, or veggie tacos. The lamb and pork tacos were sensational. The lamb particularly tender and juicy; pancita appropriately spiced Menudo; and the pork - extremely flavorful. The meat is openly chopped with a machete-like knife and served atop fresh masa tortillas made by young women before you. Tortillas are even made with an imported species of corn, grown for the restaurant in nearby Lancaster. Top your tacos as I
did, with chopped white onion, cilantro, and lime, or with nopales (cactus) and sautéed peppers. Additionally, we ordered the lamb consommé. Utilizing the
main ingredient is a light, but rich, unctuous broth with chickpeas & rice. For dessert I was delighted to see a pineapple, raisin tamale. Not too sweet, how can you go wrong for $1.

It’s cash-only. But, then again, it is always helpful if you can plan ahead, and pay independents with cash. We would all like to help small businesses avoid credit card fees.

bottom of page