1138 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
El Jarocho is one of the places in the city that you don't want people to know about. The dining room is VERY small, and it could quickly become a place at which you have to wait in line to get a table. While everyone else is raving about Veracruzana (which used to be much better than it is in its current form), you can just nod and head over to El Jarocho, taking pleasure in what is certainly among the ranks of Los Gallos and Los Jalapenos, members of the South Philly Mexican food elite, without waiting. You might have seen this place before, it's hard to miss with its various neon lights shining brightly on a nondescript corner just south of Washington.
The menu is similar to most authentic Mexican places around the city. Nothing too crazy, but what they do, they do well. One thing that I like, is that they offer Cemitas, as well as Tortas. Cemita is Torta's smaller, seeded cousin, hailing from the Puebla region of Mexico. Another thing I really, really like here, in fact one of the things that sets this place apart from the competition, is the crema dip they give you with chips while you are waiting. Slightly spicy while smooth and creamy, this stuff is scary good, and unlike what you will find most anywhere else. Homemade chips make for a perfect vessel with which to fill up before you even get to your food.
Although I still think Los Gallos reigns supreme on the sandwich (and Al Pastor) front, El Jarocho does a pretty good job as well.
The sandwich is packed with tender Al Pastor, queso, ham, avocado, lettuce, and chipotle sauce. Mine came with some sort of micro green, seen on the very bottom, which actually had an overpowering herbal flavor, but that was rectified by simply pulling it off. That aside, the Cemita is a pretty tasty rendition.
The enchiladas platter, however, was the real standout. Choice of protein (went with chicken) and a bed of rice between each of these tasty specialties. One rojo (red), one verde (green), and one mole (heaven) lined up in a row, this dish offers three very different comforting flavors. Mole is a good judge of the authenticity and execution of the kitchen, and this complex chili and chocolate based sauce was quite delicious. Not the best I have ever had, but a very solid flavor overall.
The enchiladas are one of my favorites on the menu, and coupled with the killer crema, it's not a place to miss in the hunt for the best south-of-the-border food in Philadelphia.