Philacatessen | Blue Corn: Buenissimo Mexican Restaurant


Blue Corn has quietly become one of the great Mexican restaurants in the city.

Unassuming, cash only, and located in the increasingly international food zone of the Ninth Street Italian Market, it has justifiably become the darling of Philadelphia phoodies. I have recently been told by at least four different people, “Go. You will love it, but don’t tell too many people about it.” Oh, well.

The restaurant is by no means kosher, so it would not be an option for strict observers. However, there are plenty of vegetarian options, and it is easy to avoid dairy/meat fusion with careful ordering.

Our foursome started with drinks. The margaritas were made to order with fresh lime juice. Full disclosure: They were a smidge sweet for my taste, but I managed to finish the refreshment without complaint. One member of our quartet sampled the special cocktail of the evening, which featured fresh-pressed cucumber juice; he gave it rave reviews.

Two of our apps, which we shared, were specials that evening — brisket tostados and heirloom tomato salad. The brisket was braised to tenderness and seasoned beautifully, then crisped and placed on a blue corn chip with beans, chopped cilantro, onions and salsa roja. The heirloom salad offered paper-thin slices of fresh tomato drizzled with cilantro pesto, basil, red onion and shreds of queso fresco. We also tried the guacamole, which was classic and well executed, and the queso fundido—sizzling melted cheese served with warm tortillas. No complaints there.

Mains were equally pleasing. We had tampiqueno, a cut of filet that is pounded thin and grilled, served alongside enchiladas en mole, beans, guacamole and rajas, which are roasted poblano peppers in a rich, white sauce. The dish was flavorful, complex and perfectly cooked.

My husband had branzino, which was a special that evening. He asked the server up front if it was boneless and was told that it was. This was accurate, but what he failed to ask was whether the head and tail were removed. They were not. This did not bother my husband one bit, but it would have been a struggle for me. The branzino was cooked well and stuffed with a mélange of vegetables, and sauced with a light, creamy, well flavored sauce and drizzled with a spicier salsa roja.

Because we did not overdo the mains, we saved room for dessert, which was a good move. The flan was among the best I’ve had anywhere — and I used to live in Spain. It was dense, creamy and totally devoid of that jiggly scrambled egg texture which makes people hate the dessert. We also tried the berry cream brulee, which was a special that evening, and the cheesecake. All were good, but the flan’s authenticity and richness made it the favorite.

If you go:

Blue Corn
940 S. Ninth St.
Philadelphia, Pa., 19147


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