Honest Tom’s closed this summer, but you probably wouldn’t know it. Within a month, the restaurant reappeared, churning out the same soft shell tacos and overstuffed burritos in that quaint house on 44th Street. Only it wasn’t really back at all—it became an entirely new restaurant. 

Photo: Sophia Dai

Now named Taco Taco Mexican, but lacking signage, this Honest Tom's reincarnate is bringing the restaurant back to where it started, with meat and vegan–friendly options. Run by Abraham and his brother, two chefs from the original location, the pair remains authentic to former owner Tom McCusker’s vision. Every recipe is the same—down to the “special sauce”—and the menu is more reminiscent of the one affixed to the food truck that started it all than the Honest Tom’s of last year, which went all–vegan in the wake of the owner’s lifestyle change. 

Taco Taco Mexican has integrated meat back into their menu, but still maintains two vegetarian options and one vegan option—the rice and beans, the autumnal sweet potato, and the walnut–based “Biff.” This return to form refocuses the vision of what was University City’s only genuine Mexican restaurant until late, positioning Taco Taco as a true neighborhood spot where carnivores and herbivores alike can celebrate Taco Tuesday.

Photo: Sophia Dai

When Street stopped by to get the scoop on the whereabouts of our favorite local Mexican joint, we sampled some Biff and chicken tacos to test whether there really was a difference between the two proprietors. And spoiler alert—there isn’t. Taco Taco Mexican is not a fully new business, but rather the next phase in the evolution of Honest Tom’s. 

The chicken taco was packed with flavor, chunky guac spilling out the sides with each bite. Taco Taco manages to strike a balance between the classic taco—big on impact but light on everything else—and the Americanized version, with its large portions and penchant for extra cheese. The hybrid of the two is excellent, creating a taco that is both familiar and refreshingly different. 

Photo: Sophia Dai

As for the Biff, it tastes nothing like beef, but if you go into your first taste with an open mind, it’s somehow better. Replete with nutty tones and finely ground, it’s similar to chili meat. When paired with their delightful sticky rice and beans, it mimics the flavors of a grain bowl. For an unorthodoxly delicious taco experience, look no further than this. 

Overall, Taco Taco Mexican isn’t new. If anything, its menu is older than the Honest Tom’s that welcomed me to campus last year, with its carrot and lentil barbacoa. But nonetheless, with its commitment to no–frills authenticity, it’ll soon become a campus classic.

TL;DR: Same Honest Tom's flavors in a delightfully authentic setting

Don't Miss: Burritos the size of your head

Hours: Monday — Sunday: 11 A.M — 9 P.M

Location: 261 S 44th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Price range: $