The Best $1.75 Lunch, Ever

What’s not to love about a place called Café con Chocolate? With its sunflower yellow exterior, sky blue trim, and flower boxes, this adorable corner café brings some sunshine to a stretch of West Snyder Avenue that’s not quite as photogenic as some other South Philly boulevards. Fear not, yuppies. Inside, the distressed hardwood, IKEA furniture, and constantly smiling brother-and-sister owners will help ease your trigger finger off your BMW’s panic button. In a sing-songy, staccato hybrid-accent that strikes the perfect balance between South Philly and Mexico City, the brother asks, “Whattarya in the mood for? Something sweet? Something salty? Something both?” Our kinda guy. There’s a pastry case displaying triangles of super-moist tres leches, chocolate flans, bagels, and turnovers. On the chalkboard menu, you’ll find gringo sandwiches and south-of-the-border delights like chorizo con huevos, empanadas, and burritos.

At the counter, a woman is devouring the most delicious plate of nachos I’ve ever seen, all creamy green guacamole, vivid cilantro confetti, and white crumbles of queso over a bed of crisp fried tortilla. Yes, yes, yes; this is real Mexican food, not the radioactive orange cheese sauces and salt-lick chips of Chi-Chi’s and Chili’s. On last night’s
episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, he claims Mexicans don’t really eat nachos, but the girl at the counter is speaking Spanish and she looks pretty content. We go with a single tamale, quite possibly the best $1.75 lunch. Inside the cornhusk wrapping is a gift of pillowy masa, succulent shredded chicken, and what we think is shredded cactus leaves. We can’t be sure, but we know for certain the combination is delicious. We had tamales last week at a Mexican restaurant that is generally well regarded by the food community, and theirs don’t even approach Café Con Chocolate’s.

For something sweet to sip on, nothing beats the heat like a frozen frappe of Oaxacan drinking chocolate. Spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, clove, and nutmeg, this coffee-and-cocoa elixir is part iced mocha, part agua de horchata with the addition of finely chopped nuts. It takes a good five minutes to blend up, but, like real Mexican food, is absolutely worth the wait.

Photo: Café con Chocolate


Mildred said...

Café con Chocolate es el mejor!!!
Yes, that's right is the gorgeous decoration and colors make you feel in Mexico. I recommend 200% this phenomenal restaurant. The attention is A+ and they will make you feel welcome and you will be satisfied with what ever you decide to eat. Try the “Tortas” they are the best.
Best wishes, to Café con Chocolate.

Mildred Picon
Merchantville, NJ

Mildred said...

I just realize that in Café con Chocolate descriptions said husband and wife, but they are a happy BROTHER AND SISTER the owners of the coffee shop.

Make sure you take your time to go to Café con Chocolate in the 21st and Snyder, South Philly.

Mildred Picon
Merchantville, NJ

adam said...

Whoops! Brother and sister.. correction noted.