For Restaurant Week, Sarah and I finally made it to Xochitl (pronounced So-cheet). Xochitl is an upscale Aztec Mexican on 2nd St. across from Headhouse Square in Old City. We had planned to go to this restaurant for some time and at $35 for a four-course meal this seemed like the perfect time. We were not disappointed.
The atmosphere is relaxing if a little cramped. We had a margarita and a beer at the bar while we waited for our table to free up. I could see coming to the bar for a few drinks and their freshly made guacamole. They have numerous types of tequila to sample as well as a good beer and wine list.
The prix fixe menu was divided into four courses: a soup, an appetizer, the main course and dessert. So let’s take each course one by one.
For the soup, Sarah had the Birra de Borrego, a spicy lamb consommé with chick peas and rice, and I had the Sopa Azteca, a tortilla soup with large pieces of avocado and cubes of chihuahua cheese. The lamb consommé came in a small crock. The flavor of lamb was very intense, which was good because the dish was quite spicy. The tortilla soup had a bit of tableside presentation, which I’m a bit of a sucker for. First, a shallow bowl with the blue corn tortilla chips, cheese, crema, avocado and pasilla peppers in the center. The server then poured the tomato broth over the dry ingredients. All of the flavors were fresh but the highlight was the sharpness of the cheese cubes. The soup had a pleasant spiciness that didn’t overpower the rest of the dish. My one complaint would be that the chef went a little too easy on the crema. It might as well not have been there and it could have added a nice tangy flavor.
For the appetizer, we both ordered the Ceviche Tostadas, an assortment of three different ceviches, shrimp, mackerel and octopus, on corn tortilla rounds. All were quite good. I thought the mackerel overpowered the vegetables a little. But the shrimp and the octopus were both great, with Sarah and I agreeing on how amazingly tender and flavorful the octopus was. I have really become a huge fan of octopus recently. The thing with it is that if it’s old or done badly it is unpleasantly chewy. This was just the opposite. It melted in your mouth and perfectly accentuated the veggies, avocado and lime juice.
Four the main course, Sarah chose, at our server’s recommendation, Pechuga de Pollo con Molé Poblano and I had the Bistec Azteca. The chicken was done perfectly, not dry at all. And the molé was the best, particularly smoky and spicy, according to Sarah. She is a big fan of molé and has had it at many places, especially during our time in New York– so, for her, this is high praise. My steak was cut into strips and done nicely. There was not one bit of fat or gristle. It came with a bowl of beans, a corn-and-poblano-pepper salad, fried sweet potatoes and roasted corn puree. They served the main courses with steamed blue corn tortillas so you could make tacos. We were both very happy with our dishes. I would’ve liked a little more starch on the plate but that is really a small complaint.
For dessert Sarah had the Nachos con Chocolate, which had a really cool presentation with melted Mexican chocolate poured over sweet nachos. It had chopped bits of strawberry and drizzled cream on it to make it resemble tomatoes and crema on savory nachos. The flavors were great, especially the chocolate. I had a trio of flan: eggnog, chocolate and cinnamon on top of caramel sauce. The eggnog flan tasted like standard flan to me. Good but nothing special. The chocolate and cinnamon however were great. Both used their respective flavors conservatively. The chocolate was not overpoweringly sweet and the cinnamon was also reserved but present.
Overall, a great experience. I would highly recommend Xochitl to anyone, especially those, like many of our friends, who like food that fights back. I believe that everything that I described is gluten free. If you are a celiac, I would call first, but I think this would be a great find for celiacs in Philly.
[where: 408 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147]