It had been fourteen months since the epic Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012. Over seven months elapsed since the Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013. People were getting hungry, and it was time for the food crawl planners to plan the next outing: Philadelphia Pizza Crawl 2: The Search for New Pizza. There is so much good pizza in this city the only logical thing to do is have a second crawl to try the best of the best.
Opening night of a new restaurant can be extremely busy and not truly indicative of a typical night. Throw in the additional factor of Marc Vetri opening up his new pizza restaurant, and you would think there was the potential for all-out chaos. Fortunately, while the crowds came in droves to the public opening of Pizzeria Vetri at 1939 Callowhill, the night ran as smoothly as possible for both customers and staff.
Pizzeria Vetri is by no means a large establishment. It seats about 35 and has no bar at which to hang out while waiting for your table. What it does have, however, is a check-in system, in which the hostess accurately gives you an expected wait-time and then automatically texts you when your seats (not necessarily table) are ready. So, getting news of a one-hour wait at 7 p.m. wasn’t the worst news, as I just went one block over to Kite & Key for a drink during the wait.
On the heels of the highly successful Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012, it was time to plan another food crawl. Cheesesteaks and pizza were already done. The next target: tacos.
The taco scene in Philly is diverse and spread out. Some of the best known Mexican establishments in town are the Stephen Starr and Jose Garces restaurants in Center City and University City, but many of the true gems are the “authentic” South Philly spots that are, regrettably, largely unknown to the average Philadelphian. In fact, there are fantastic taquerias to be found all throughout the city. The Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013 sought to sample some of the best taco spots in different neighborhoods.
- Basics – Sample six of the best Philadelphia taquerias on a Saturday in July.
- Objective – Follow up on the Pizza Crawl and experience the great tacos the city has to offer.
- Specific stops – Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, Cantina Los Caballitos, Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla, Restaurant Taqueria El Jarocho, La Calaca Feliz, Taco Riendo. All have received recognition as being among the best places in town to get tacos. They also provide a good mix of “Americanized” and “authentic,” casual and more formal, BYO and bar establishments. Bonus points for “unusual” offerings. Not making the cut but meriting consideration were spots such as El Vez, Distrito, Loco Pez, Taqueria La Veracruzana and Taco Loco.
- Logistics – With Crawl stops in University City, South Philadelphia, Fairmount and Olde Kensington, walking would be impractical. Originally, we considered renting a bus or trolley. Instead, we went by bike, car and even bus between long distances, while walking between stops two through four. Just like the Pizza Crawl, we also collected $20 up front for the cost of tacos and some drinks, while everyone was responsible for their own alcohol and additional orders. Calls were placed in advance to each location to ensure they were open and able to accommodate large groups. At each stop, we’d order enough for at least one taco per person, and we’d sample unique or specialty offerings where possible.