shiprock popup at 12 steps down

What is a Navajo Taco? It’s a taco variety with Southwestern Native American origins. The toppings are similar to what you’d put on an American taco, yet the “shell” is completely different. These tacos are served on fry bread, a flat, plate sized piece of fried dough.

A little over a week ago, the team of Marcos Espinoza (Fidel Gastro, Side Project Jerky), Hawk Krall (Illustrator, Serious Eats), and Chef Lucio Palazzo (La Calaca Feliz) held a popup in South Philly at 12 Steps Down known as the Shiprock Popup. Joining these three in the kitchen was none other than Espinoza’s mother, one of the founders of Navajo Hogan, Espinoza’s family owned Navajo Taco restaurant in Salt Lake City.

The evening’s menu consisted of a mutton stew, four different kinds of tacos, and a dessert fry bread. The taco options were Traditional Chili con Carne, Chicken Ropa Vieja, Pork Spare Rib, and Vegetarian Black Bean. All of them were topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, scallion, sour cream, and salsa verde.

Being pretty hungry, my dining partner and I ordered three tacos, the Traditional, Chicken Ropa Vieja, and Vegetarian Black Bean. A couple minutes and few bites later, I was totally immersed in Navajo Taco heaven. All three varieties that we ordered were great, but my favorite was the Traditional. It had that perfect American taco flavor profile of beef, beans, spice, and other toppings. That fry bread certainly put it over the top. Imagine the texture of a Taco Bell Chalupa “shell.” Now think of a chalupa “shell” but fresh, homemade, flat, and airy. The fry bread was absolutely insane. It has a tastiness and airiness that no premade Taco Bell chalupa shell could ever come close to. Combined with taco toppings? Pure deliciousness.

To close out our dinner, we split one of the sweet fry breads. This was the same airy fry bread, but topped with homemade honey butter and cinnamon sugar. Move over funnel cake, this sweet fry bread was the best fried dough dessert I’ve ever had.

This post may sound overly enthusiastic but seriously, they were THAT good. I haven’t stopped thinking about them. Marcos, Hawk, and Lucio, if you’re reading this, PLEASE have another popup soon!

You can also purchase some of the awesome prints that Hawk specially made for the popup here!

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philly foodspotting south philly taco crawl – april 2012

This past Sunday, 7 Foodspotters, including myself, braved the rain and participated in Philly Foodspotting’s longest crawl yet. The South Philly Taco Crawl that took place consisted of five stops in the following order: Tres Jalapeños, La Veracruzana, Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla, La Lupe, and El Jarocho.

Since there were 7 of us and 5 stops, we decided to order a couple tacos at each place and split them up so we could try a little bit of everything.

Throughout the evening, several different types of tacos were consumed from al pastor (marinated pork w/ pineapple) to carnitas (pork). Vegetarian friendly options like portabella and cheese tacos were also enjoyed. The most interesting ones that we got to try were the jalapeños rellenos de queso (stuffed jalapeños w/ cheese) from La Veracruzana and nopales con queso (cactus & cheese) from Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla. The tastiest tacos were the barbacoa lamb ones from El Jarocho. At the end, some of us even stopped by a nearby 7-Eleven…for a Choco Taco!

Thanks to all who came out despite the unpleasant weather, it surely was a great time!

Keep up with Philly Foodspotting on Twitter & Facebook. Check out the guide for the crawl here!

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philly foodspotting weird food eatup – october 2011

For the Halloween season, I thought it’d be fun to do a weird food eatup around Philly. It was originally intended to be a crawl, but due to time constraints on a weeknight, I figured an eatup would be best. I chose Los Taquitos de Puebla in South Philly as our venue since it is home to several odd tacos, from head meat to eyeballs. Yes, eyeballs.

tacos de surtida

Unfortunately, it rained a good amount last Thursday so attendance was pretty slim. At the table sat me, fellow Foodspotter Lee, and his wife. Lee’s wife wasn’t too fond of giving the weird tacos a try, so me and Lee split the Tacos de Ojo (eyeball), Tacos de Trompa (lips), and Tacos de Surtida (mixed head meat).

lee eating the last bit of eyeballs...

We “toasted” and took our first bite of the eyeball tacos. It honestly wasn’t as unpleasant as I thought it would be. The texture was very chewy and fatty. Not the most desirable texture, but hey, it was chopped up and wasn’t looking at me! The other tacos had a similar fatty consistency but had much more meaty texture than the eyeballs did.

Check out the guide!

Keep up with Philly Foodspotting on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Group!

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2011 philadelphia vendy awards

2011 philly vendys
This past Saturday was the first annual Vendy Awards for Philadelphia! I remember attending last year’s Vendys in NYC, and they announced that Philly was going to have their first in 2011. Well, I never forgot and was certainly looking forward to this.

2011 philly vendys - gigi and big r
There were a total of 8 trucks nominated. The 8 trucks were: Cucina Zapata (Thai/Mexican), Gigi and Big R (Caribbean/American Soul Food), Guapos Tacos (Garces’s taco truck), King of Falafel (Middle Eastern), La Copine (Brunch), Magic Carpet Foods (Vegetarian), Sugar Philly (Desserts), and Sweet Box (Cupcakes).

the judges' table

Three awards were up for grabs on Saturday, the Vendy Cup, Best Dessert, and People’s Choice. To decide the winners, a large panel of judges included Mayor Michael Nutter, Chef Jen Carroll of 10 Arts, Chef Mike Solomonov of Zahav, Drew Lazor of Philadelphia’s City Paper, Brian McManus of Philadelphia Weekly, Jamie Shanker of Midtown Lunch Philadelphia, and Lindsay Lidge, wife of Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge and The Food Trust partner.

crispy mahi taco from guapos tacos

Lots of great food was served such as a soul food sampler from Gigi and Big R, a mahi taco from Guapos, falafel from Magic Carpet and King of Falafel, tacos from Cucina Zapata, macarons from Sugar Philly, and cupcakes from Sweet Box.

2011 philly vendy cup winners - gigi and big r

The winners were Gigi and Big R for the Vendy Cup, Sweet Box for Best Dessert, and Cucina Zapata for People’s Choice.

At last year’s Vendy’s I didn’t get to try some food since some trucks ran out. It happened again this year! I heard some great things about Sugar Philly’s salted caramel macarons and I had none of it. This just means I’m going to have to get over there on my own and get em!

I’d definitely like to see this event grow next year with more trucks and more food. I had an awesome time and look forward to next year’s!

All the proceeds of the Philadelphia Vendys benefited The Food Trust. The Food Trust is holding another Night Market featuring more Philly food trucks soon, go check it out!

Check out more photos after the jump:

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south philadelphia tap room

It took me way too long to get down here. I’ve always heard great things about the food Chef Scott Schroeder makes. He also tweets photos of his food and it always looks awesome. For example, there’s the grilled cheese & tomato soup and the extremely rare chicken fried cheesesteak. After seeing these, you’re probably wondering why it took me so long to go.

Grilled cheese in mind, I made my way down after work yesterday. To my surprise, an insert was handed out in addition to the regular menu which included Scott’s Dogs, hot dogs which will soon be served from a cart in a collaboration with Southwark Chef Nick Macri, an appetizer of “mexican construction worker style headcheese tacos”, and “my grandmom’s tomato and mayonnaise sandwich”. Whoa! If you follow Scott on Twitter, you have definitely seen him talk about a simple sandwich of tomato and mayo. I never thought it was weird, but I certainly have never had or heard of it. It certainly intrigued me. After I saw that Scott was offering this on the menu, I had no choice but to order it. I had to see what all the fuss was about. The sandwich (pictured above) is made from Lancaster county tomatoes, white bread, and mayo and is accompanied by a side of fries, salad, or pasta salad. It was freaking delicious. I would ramble on more, but my words honestly don’t do it any justice. You HAVE to make it down here.

grilled cheese & tomato soup

One of the three of us did get the grilled cheese and she was kind enough to let me try a piece. That was quite fantastic too. If I had a couple more beers in me, there’s no doubt in my mind I would have ordered a grilled cheese too. I also tried one of the headcheese tacos which was tasty. They had quite the spice kick!

mexican construction worker style headcheese tacos

I will definitely be back. The place has a chill vibe, the beer selection is good, and Scott’s food rocks. I also have unfinished business (grilled cheese/tomato soup, the burger, Scott’s Dogs, and a chicken fried cheesesteak…if I get lucky).

If you think it’s too far to get to it’s only a couple blocks northwest of the Snyder stop on the Broad Street Line. Do it.

South Philadelphia Tap Room
1509 Mifflin Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145

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