Took Jas's recommendation from a few weeks back and checked out Plaza Garibaldi (935 Washington), the site of the former Saigon.
SOPES!!! The menu happily looked like it was tilting toward Yucatecan, and this was confirmed by what appeared to be the head server, who spoke good English.
Started w/Camarones Garibaldi ($9), two cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped shrimp, which were quite good, and two breaded shrimp, which were rather bland. Apps range from $5 (for interesting-sounding sincronisadas [stuffed tortilla]) to $10 (vuelve -- seafood cocktail).
Next, the aforementioned sopes (3/$8.50), available in four varieties. We had al Pastor, carnitas, and "carne enchilada" (pork marinated in guajillo sauce). Bistek is also offered. Wow! They take this classic street food to a new level. First, they're huge. I'm used to those that have a diameter of, say, a coffee cup; PG's are about twice the size, like the saucer under the cup. And they're piled high with beans, lettuce, sour cream and Oaxacan cheese. Terrific. Complaint #1 is the salsas. One verde, the other thin and unidentifably brownish. Both very bland. I asked the head server if PG is afraid of scaring off gringo palettes, and this is apparently a concern. I told him Taqueria Veracruzana (right across the street) has great, fiery habanero and chipotle salsas, and it doesn't seem to bother the "non-natives". Hope for a little more heat at my next visit.
On to quesadillas: queso Oaxaca con championes (3/$7.50). Again, a very large portion. Straightforward preparation, fresh and tasty. Still, the salsa problem ...
Then a steak tampiquena ($12) that was quite authentic: poblanos for spice, cactus for texture, cream and cheese for depth. Complaint #2: way overdone. I could tell that the ribeye would have been flavorful at even medium. The server didn't ask me how I wanted it done, and I didn't ask either, so no biggie. All the same, I suggested that they try grilling to order, and the head server seemed to welcome the suggestion (I really aren't as picky as I sound here.)
Finished with flan ($2, I think), which oddly isn't on the menu. A firmer, "cooked-er" version, served as a wedge rather than ramikin-shaped. Quite flavorful.
OK, lots of familiar faces also on the menu:
* chalupas ($4 and $6 [with meat])
* tortas, 7 varieties ($5-$6.50)
* burritos, 6 varieties (all $6)
* tacos, usual suspects (all 3/$5)
* tostadas, chicken/beef/shrimp (3/$6.50, $9 for shrimp)
* flautas, chicken or potato (3/$7) -- see Jas's post
* fajitas, chicken/steak/shrimp/mixta ($10-$12.50)
* enchiladas, mole/suiza/veggie ($9) -- see Jas's post
* chilaquiles, beef/chicken, verde/rojo ($9) -- see Jas's post
* steak, 7 versions ($10-$12)
* shrimp, 3 versions ($12.50)
* the end of the menu features a couple of cool-looking dishes, like "mula terca" enchilada (chorizo, al pastor, pepper, cheese).
Also, smoothies ($2), including oatmeal(!).
PG is a welcome addition to Philadelphia's REAL restaurant row (Jas's term). Worth a check-out.
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