First Look: Azul Cantina


We’re ready for a celebration of street food. The about-to-pop Azul Cantina is poised to satiate anyone who feels the same. The latest addition to the Midtown Renaissance makes its soft opening Wednesday, May 28th and we’ll be there. Devastatingly. Drunk. On. Mentas. We took a sneak peek around the digs and talked to the good folks about how Azul will give Gayborhooders (Gayborhoodies?) a chance to nosh legit Mexican food without daytripping to Souffilly. $5 margaritas taste like drunk texting all summer.
After the jump, we take you there with pictures to prove it.

“We want this place to be a local spot, so we priced the menu to encourage people to come back more than once”, says Irina Vinokur, front o’ the house Manager. With a late night menu where nothing will set you back more than $10, that’s no lip service. Did we mention they serve until 1AM? And this ain’t no chicken fingers clusterscrew. I think the Drunken Flautas ($7) and Mahi Mahi Tacos ($10) rep how serious Chef Jesse R. Vega is about bringing it loud and often. The man cut his teeth at Alma De Cuba and ran the ship at Gigi, so you know he’s got the skills and owns big flavor.

A full menu that includes Mezcal Brined Pork, Roasted Salmon with avocado leaf scented rice and 7 different varieties of guacamole and salsa is JohnHolmesBig. It’s deep. To wit: Shrimp Tacos. Sweet Potato Enchiladas. Beef Torta Sliders. Chipotle Goat Cheese Toastados. Guava Tropical Salad. Tired yet? They’re not. In fact, they’ll see your dinner and raise you a Brunch. Every Saturday and Sunday from 11-4, we get another contender in Joey’s Search For The Perfect Bloody Mary. Tinto has Jamon, but Azul has a base of homemade Sangrita instead of tomato juice. For the uninitiatied/rube-ish, that’s the hot smoky tomato shot that comes with expensive Tequila. Creative and obvious, a deadly combination for sure.

Since we’re on Tequila, Azul has every expression of the liquidpartyelixir known to man and beast. They’ve got 15 Blancos, 14 Reposados, and 15 Anejos. They’ve got “El Padrino,” which Chef Vega uttered with reverence: “THAT’S THE GODFATHER.” He sounds expensive. Freshly made and muddled Mojitos with many fruits and your choice of mint, basil, or cilantro can be purchased by the glass or by the pitcher. Pitcher, forealz. Highlighting the mixed drink tequila menu is La Magdelena, a tequila-agave nectar-raspberry liquer-cranberry-fresh lime banger. Bar manager Matt McHale will have his hands/bar stools full with drink offerings like that. SEE YOU THERE.

With so much attention on a crazyambitious menu, your only fear is that the space might suffer. Fear not: It’s Blue. It’s Beautiful. There will be no reservations accepted, save for the 12 seats in the lounge area. We’re guessing finding an open reso after the first few weeks will be an exercise in impossibility. Outdoor seating lies beyond the huge glass walls/doors. Think Tria.

We’re always excited about a place with this much potential. Those prices and late night menu will make us part of the native tribe hunting and gathering after a serious night of drinking. We WANT this to be our new favorite. Let’s find out Wednesday, together.

Azul Cantina is located at 941 Spruce St. (215) 627-5200

  • http://ClassicWines CW Guy

    Always nice to stumble upon a Philly based website. Classic Wines is philly-centric as well, and we believe the food and wine scene is top notch in this city.

    Keep covering the hotspots guys!

    Classic Wines Guy
    Wine Gifts

  • sluggerB

    cute barkeep

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