June 8, 2011

Cantina Los Caballitos

While we were a little late to the scene, we're firmly on Team Passyunk Ave- what a great street full of tons of delicious eats! Our jaunt down the Avenue last fall led to several return visits. We've had a hankering for some good Mexican food, which was denied on our last trip south. This past weekend, however, we set out early and walked down (a shorter trip than we expected!) to grab a table for dinner at Cantina Los Caballitos.

We opted for a seat right inside, which allowed us to experience the indoor vibe of the restaurant as well as some stellar people watching. CLC recently acquired an adjacent corner lot that allowed them to expand their capacity with outdoor seating, particularly useful now that summer seems to be here to stay. The service here is good, but be sure to check the blackboards for specials because they won't recite them for you. Every meal starts out with a big bowl of salty, super crispy tortilla chips and two accompanying dips. A green and a red salsa, mild and just-spicier-than-mild respectably. The green salsa is creamier, most likely due to a bit of avocado blended into the mix. Both are delicious.

Of course, meals for us typically start with a shared salad, and CLC had quite a few tasty-sounding ones on the menu. Even the standard Mixta salad ($7) is a treat- chopped romaine, crunchy radishes and jicama matchsticks, generous chunks of avocado, sections of juicy orange, and spicy almonds. A barely-there coating of slightly spicy, lime-y vinaigrette adds a final zing to each bite. Fresh and cool- perfect summer food.

The wings appetizer ($11) sounded interesting, with a mix of three different flavors- regular buffalo, sour orange mojo, and guava barbecue. With three of each on the plate, it was good for sharing, but a little pricey for wings that were on the small side. The regular buffalo flavor ended up being my favorite, particularly with the side of cool goat cheese dressing- tasted more like cream cheese than ranch. The guava barbecue was a little too sweet for my taste, while the mojo orange had a tangy, mustardy flavor- not sure where the orange or mojo play into that. I wouldn't order this again, but I did leave a plate of bones- at least my wing quota has been satisfied for the time being.

A ordered the mahi tacos ($11) which were superb. Double layered corn tortillas (double or nothing is what I say) wrapped loosely around thick chunks of flaky, flavorful white fish. A standard order includes a bit of onion and cilantro to top them off, but we opted to add some pico de gallo for some extra juice ($0.50 extra). Other available toppings include all the usual suspects- guac, sour cream, jalapenos, and cheese. A squeeze of lime juice always benefits a fish taco, adding in acidity to bring out the flavors of both the mahi and tomatoes. Altogether, this is a no fail combination, with the quality of the components simply enhancing the enjoyment factor.

We planned to stop for some gelato at Capoyunk (love that name!) on our way home, so we skipped out on dessert. Overall the meal was just perfect for an early summer evening, light and flavorful. I think my favorite thing about the place is the people watching- I have an eavesdropping/commentating addiction that CLC fed quite nicely. It's a fun and quirky atmosphere that attracts all sorts of folks, but they all have one thing in common- they know where to get some good Mexican grub!

Cantina Los Caballitos
1651 E Passyunk Ave (12th and Morris)


  1. Love Cantina, even though every other time we go the service is either lacking or the food is slightly off. A pitcher of passion fruit margaritas and one order of tofu and seitan fajitas (our “usual” and the fajitas are always good) will fill two people to the gills and get a good buzz going!

  2. I need to try this place although I don't think a Mexican place should serve buffalo wings. how do you think the tacos compare to a taqueria? I got three for $6 at el jarocho and they were delish.

    Like Taylor's comments about a good buzz. Count me in on that alone.

  3. I wouldn't call Cantina completely authentic-- a "real" Mexican place wouldn't serve wings, for sure (although they'd probably be pretty darn good if they did!). The tacos had way less flavor than a taqueria, but with their salsa and some hot sauce, we were in businesse.

    We're still trying to get to Taqueria Veracruzana.. I've heard they're the best :)

  4. The food is always good,the service is decent. The only thing I would suggest is some deodorant for the staff.

  5. For the best tacos in Philly , skip vera cruzana and head directly to moctazuma on nineth street just off of washington ave. Three pork tacos adorned with only onion, cilantro and lime. You'll be dreaming about them every week. Promise. Oh and only six bucks for all three

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  7. My friend and I decided to try out Cantina for happy hour yesterday and we loved it! The atmosphere was nice, the specials were impressive, and the service was great. Our bartender, Marty was really cool and helpful and our server Jonhnie gave us great service. We will definitely be visiting Cantina again soon!