Located on 13th and Sansom, El Vez is one of the best Mexican restaurants Philadelphia's Center City District has to offer.
With a causal but classy atmosphere, it is easy to get comfortable in this restaurant. The tables, and a few big booths for larger parties, are spaciously situated around the bar in the center. While you are waiting for a table, be sure to order one of their famous margaritas or a guava mojito.
The entire place is Mexican inspired, from the music playing in the background to the decorations to the back of the menus, which teach you a little Spanish. The wait staff is very helpful and know the menu up and down, as well as give good recommendations. There is certainly an air of authenticity to El Vez from its appearance to the items on the menu.
Having been to Mexico a few times, I can tell you that the food at this restaurant is as close to the real thing as you may find. Famous for their guacamole, El Vez has seven different kinds to choose from. The El Vez Guacamole is traditional (tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, onion and lime), but very tasty and worth getting every time. For those who like to get adventurous with with their guacamole choice, the "Bazooka" Limon offers a unique combination of goat cheese, pistachios, chile flakes and roasted tomatoes, while the Tito Santana provides a mix of sweet and spicy/smokey with mango, papaya, chipotle peppers and red and white onions. The guacamole makes for a great, not-too-filling appetizer and is great to share with a group of people. The guacamole will probably run you about $6-$8
Guacamole is not the only choice for a great appetizer. The tortilla soup is to die for; I highly recommend it, especially on a cold fall/winter day. El vez also offers two different kinds of nachos and a couple salasa options, which are also great to share with a large party. Two other appetizers that are sure to please would be the Huarance de Carnitas, which is
braised pork, grilled pineapple salsa, avocado, shredded cotija cheese with piquin chili verde, and the Queso Funditio con Carne, a spicy chorizo topped with two types of Mexican cheese served with tortillas to roll it in. Appetizers can range from $7-$15
The entrees at El Vez are small portions, but are also very good. The Crispy Mahi-Mahi Tacos is the best seafood taco option on the menu, while the Pibil Pork Tacos are extremely tasty, adding avocato salsa and jalapeno vinegrette to roasted pork. If you cannot decide on which variety of taco to get, give the Taco Tasting Platter a try; it includes two each of the sea bass, chipotle chicken, pibil pork, and crispy mahi-mahi tacos. The tacos by themselves are around $12, but the tasting platter is around $20. El Vez also offers other classic Mexican entrees such as Carne Asada and Red Snapper Veracruz, these are the most expensive items on the menu, but neither of while are over $27.
Do not leave this restaurant without trying their Tres Leches Cake for dessert. The grainy but creamy cake is flavorful and is easy to eat on a full stomach. There are also churros on the dessert menu, if you are loyal to the cinammony Spanish classic.
El Vez is a classy, affordable restaurant with delicious food. Whether you are meeting up with friends after work for a drink and appetizers or going out to dinner with the family, El Vez is a good choice for any occasion.