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Molcajete Mixto

fork forkfork

very good

Last visited: #of visits: cost Where? What to Get What to Skip
11/06 1

moderate
(entrees in the mid-teens)

746 Christian St,
(corner of 8th St)

215-413-0171

soups, anything in a molcajete, anything with mole -

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Enchiladas MoleThere has been a welcome blooming of the Mexican dining scene in Philadelphia in the last few years, with almost every variation along the scale from basic taquerias to more upscale restaurants opening and flourishing. Molcajete Mixto is aiming for the higher part of that range, yet remains fairly affordable and not too stuffy. It's a BYOB on an odd corner, and doesn't look quite as nice from the outside as it does once one gets in the door, but I'm hoping that enough people will find this place. It's been very quiet when I've eaten there, or looked-in when passing-by, and others have reported the same impression. More people need ot take the plunge, I'm sure they'll be impressed by the sophisticated but unfussy cooking, and high quality of both food and service. The chef and manager have both worked in some of the better restaurants in Philadelphia, and they bring those skills and that level of polish to this place, serving the food they grew up eating in Puebla, Mexico.

The chef is justifiably famous for his soups, so be sure to start with one, perhaps the piquant tortilla soup (called Sopa Azteca) with tender shreds of cheese and goopy cheese hidden by a tangle of crunchy tortilla shreds. Or try the Black Bean Soup, luxuriously creamy and smooth. There are two more on the menu, and often a special soup or two. Just get a soup... you won't regret it.

There are other good starters, we especially enjoyed baked clams, enlivened by bacon, chorizo and chipotle butter. Those strong ingredients threatened to overwhelm the clams, but that was OK with us, because the combination was so delicious.

Sopa Azteca

 

Chiles Rellenos

 

Roasted poblano peppers are stuffed with moist shredded pork and raisins, and bathe in a silky tomato sauce. The sweetness and spice balance the richness of the meat, and the freshness and high quality of the ingredients place this on a plane far removed from those greasy, dense batter-dipped cheese bombs that often get called Chiles Rellenos elsewhere. This is a delicious rendition of that Puebla classic.

A dark, complex mole accompanies chicken, or chicken enchiladas. Roasted chiles, bitter chocolate and a long list of other ingredients contribute to an intriguing sauce, more balanced and less edgy than some I've had. Some might like more spice or more bitter overtones, but I think this is a fine example of this famed mole.

 

The flan is impossibly smooth and creamy, with a vivid vanilla flavor. I'm told the crepas with fruit are not to be missed, I'm getting them next time!

Overall I found this to be one of the better new small independent restaurants to open in a while, and I don't mean just among Mexican places. The quality is very high, the service is very solicitious, in fact they might try a little too hard, but one could have bigger problems...

I think many people are missing out by because of this restaurant's location or outward appearance. It certainly deserves to be more crowded than it is. Go help them out with that!

Flan



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