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Cantina Dos Segundos


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Cantina Dos Segundos opens today in Northern Liberties! We were lucky and were invited to last night's friends and family night to get a preview. So I thought I'd give you a preview.

The whole menu looked incredible and we were just two people so we had some tough choices to make. We settled on Quesadilla de Hongos y Huitlacoche, Tacos al Pastor, Pulpo, and the pork chops, and banana/chocoalte empanadas for dessert. The rest of the menu looked equally delicious. I had a hard time resisiting the goat tacos, a favorite of mine from the owners' other Cantina (Los Caballitos). The menu inculdes some of the stars from Caballitos but lots and lots of new deliciousness.

So for the food - I started with the Tacos al Pastor. They rocked. The pork was moist, flavorful and very well seasoned, and there was just the right amount of pineapple. Best al pastor I've had in this city!

Quesadillas were also fantastic. Not a heaping glob of cheese like you might come to expect when you have had so many bad quesadillas like I have. You could really taste everything that was in it, and the cheese also rocked, much higher quality than your normal run-of-the-mill quesadilla.

Pulpo - might be our favorite of the night. It was perfectly cooked and tender, which is hard to get in a pulpo and really shows the mad skills of the chef. It was grilled and had a delicious mildly spicy tangy sauce. (Sorry I can't be more specific, I should have snagged a copy of the menu...)

Pork chops - I was full, unfortunately, by the time I got to the pork chops so I cannot say much about them. The couple of bites I had were delicious, and again very well flavored both in terms of the pork and the marinade. My husband started with the pork chops and really enjoyed. He ended up eating one and a half chops, while I had maybe a third of a chop.

Banana/Chocolate empanadas - I know I said I was full, but I had to get these. I'm a sucker for anything with both banana and chocolate. The were rich, but thankfully didn't put me over the edge. Fantastic.

For drinks I had a Cadillac margarita and my husband had an El Dorado margarita and some kind of tequilla. I liked my margarita very much. It tasted like super tangy delicous guava juice with a kick.

The servers were so knowledge about the drink and food menus and really helped guide us when we needed it, for instance when my husband wanted a glass of tequilla and knew nothing about the kinds offered. Our waitress described the varieties in detail and helped him select one he really liked.

I am so excited that this place has opened. It is now on my short list of places I like to eat at, and I will definately be going back soon.

Info:

Cantina Dos Segundos

931 North Second Street

Philadelphia, PA

215-629-0500

http://cantinadossegundos.com

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We were there last night too! Missed seeing you two!

A full review was to come this weekend, perhaps with pictures (we brought our camera).

However, a brief summary:

cactus paddle salad -nopal salad

sopes - corn cakes

goat tacos

ribeye steak

flan

choc/banana empanadas

sangria

more later!

Philly Francophiles

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gallery_6400_6104_1477.jpg Nopal Salad-Cactus paddles, pepitos, mixed greens, jalapenos, onions, tasty dressing. Side of good, chunky guacamole.

gallery_6400_6104_34621.jpg Sopes-corn cakes with black beans, etc.

gallery_6400_6104_38832.jpg Goat tacos-nicely goaty, strong but good.

gallery_6400_6104_21697.jpg sides for tacos- sour cream, guacamole, etc.

gallery_6400_6104_49519.jpg Ribeye steak-cooked rare as ordered, could feed a family of five-came with fried plantain fritters.

gallery_6400_6104_35480.jpg Banana & chocolate empanadas

gallery_6400_6104_38877.jpg Flan-the unbelievable best. Carmelized and almost burnt in a good way, texture was absolutely wonderful. Impossible to get it better.

Philly Francophiles

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  • 2 weeks later...

As I mentioned over in the Distrito thread, it's a pretty great time for Mexican food in Philly.

It wasn't all that long ago that we were bemoaning the lack of really great Mexican food in the city, then we finally got some good taquerias, then the last few years have seen some places aspiring to to more than that, offering interesting, modern interpretations of the cuisine. There's nothing at all wrong with the basic Taqueria, but there's more to Mexican food than tacos and enchiladas.

Over the last year or so, some of my favorite examples of contemporary Mexican food have been emerging from the kitchen at the Cantina Los Caballitos in South Philly. The preparations are not especially fussy or delicate, not fusions or post-modern experiments, more straight-ahead and homey, done with great attention to detail. As a result, the conchinita pilbil, the goat tacos and the ribs have become favorites with my circle, eliciting many repeat visits specifically to get those three things, and whatever was on the specials board. I think I admitted in the Los Caballitos thread that a friend and I went two nights in a row, and got the same things both times...

So it was pretty exciting to hear that there was going to be another Cantina, this time in Northern Liberties. For one, it's been really hard to get into the original one in south philly, on a weekend night, waits of over an hour are not uncommon. Also, Cantina Dos Segundos is not merely a duplication of the first one, it features a larger menu with some unique dishes, and even deeper explorations into regional cuisines rarely seen in Philly.

I can't claim to be a completely disinterested, anonymous critic: I've known one of the owners for many years, oddly enough from a completely non-food context. But I'm writing as a sincere fan of the food, not as a favor to a friend.

I've had one dinner and one brunch so far, and grabbed a couple of other bites as they were going by, and so far, I've been really impressed. Chef Mark McKinney has a great feel for intense, hearty flavors, and has been sourcing high-quality ingredients, raising the bar for even seemingly routine dishes. The turkey remains tender and moist in the vivid moles. Pork chops are exposed to some sort of magic marinade that renders them juicier than seems possible. Even the Carne Asada is a revelation, a high-quality rib-eye, rubbed with earthy spices. Who'd have thought my favorite steak could be at a Mexican Cantina?

If it's anything like the Cantina Los Caballitos, I'm keeping my eye on the specials board, some of the most interesting stuff will show up there. But I'll also be in on a regular basis for some new (and old) favorites.

It's always a good idea to start with a ceviche, chef McKinney does a great job with these.

gallery_23992_6121_40235.jpg

I'm especially fond of the Atun with creamy coconut and sweet onions.

gallery_23992_6121_89618.jpg

Their Goat Tacos are one of the best things to eat anywhere. The shredded meat is juicy, tender and deeply flavored. It's not too funky, just a bit more vivid than beef or pork, you really should try it.

gallery_23992_6121_108968.jpg

Carnitas Estilo Michoacan are different from any carnitas I've ever had, apparently this is a particular technique from Michoacan, in which the pork is cooked slowly in fat, much like a duck confit. The result is a rich, tender shredded pork, with intense flavor, and yep, a little delicious fattiness left to them. It's crisped-up a little to order, giving a nice combo of crunchy and soft shreds. I had one of these tacos that was a little dry, but the others were a nice mix of textures.

gallery_23992_6121_133776.jpg

The Tacos al Pastor here have passed those from Taquitos de Puebla on 9th street as my favorites. Both have great charred edges from the vertical spit, but I think this version at Dos remains a little juicier, and has a more aggressive marinade, which I like a lot. The chunks of pineapple mixed in make this an addictive treat.

gallery_23992_6121_118779.jpg

Pulpo a las Brasas al Mojo de Ajo is a unique presentation of a philly favorite: tiny whole octopuses grilled to add a smoky charred edge, remaining very tender, tangy with citrusy, garlicky marinade. It's going to be hard to resist ordering these every time.

To accompany, be sure to check out the Frijoles Refritos, refried beans, rich with lard and bacon. Yes there are vegetarian, and vegan versions of the beans, and actually quite a lot of options for vegetarians and vegans overall. The tacos, burritos, and chimichangas can be filled with various meats, or rice and beans, or vegan "ground beef," or what they call "verduras," which is roasted squash, mushrooms, spinach and cactus.

Speaking of chimichangas - I don't really like chimichangas, but I had a bite of one here and was amazed at how light and flaky it was. I just might have to get one...

Also on the side, we like:

gallery_23992_6121_68069.jpg

Platanos Machos sweet plantains with dark caramelized edges, doused with crema and cheese.

gallery_23992_6121_48686.jpg

Elote Asado sweet corn, roasted to a sugary char, slathered with mayo, dusted with cheese, sprinkled with lime.

gallery_23992_6121_89238.jpg

Papas Fritas nicely spiced fried potatoes. There was some debate at our table about whether there was too much salt and spice, but the opinions were evenly split.

Some of those dishes above we had for brunch, the lunch menu is available through brunch. One of the brunch specials really got me though, I REALLY hope it will be a permanent fixture on the brunch menu:

gallery_23992_6121_87030.jpg

Huevos Dos Segundos This is a variation on Eggs Benedict, with corn masa cakes subbed-in for the english muffins, a smear of refritos on top, perfectly poached eggs, chorizo-infused hollandaise sauce, and - hang onto something - Benton's Bacon. I could smell that distinctive smokiness when the plate got within about 10 feet of our table. The combo of the intense bacon and the porky beans, with the creamy eggs and lemony sauce... wow.

I've had a few drinks too, and quite like: Cadillac Margaritas (with Guava); the "Los Ovnis," a gingery drink with rum and Boing! soda; a really weird one, the "Cola de Caballo," a bourbon and coke with liquid smoke!

There's a crazy selection of tequilas, including some interesting "flights" comparing different styles or types or origins, or aging, etc. I can't think of a more fun way to educate one's self about the finer points of tequila. I'm looking forward to trying some of the obscure mezcals, from tiny producers.

So, wow, as I read back over this post, it looks like a fluffy PR piece, but I don't really want to invent bad stuff to make myself look like less of a shill! All my food has been really good.

It's true enough that some of the staff surely recognizes me, but I don't think the waiters can suddenly become knowledgeable about the food or the drinks on the spot, they seem very well informed, and are friendly and helpful in a relaxed way.

Oh wait, I have a criticism: the Air Conditioning is a little flaky in some areas, mostly up front, by the doors. But then, the outdoor temps have been in the upper 90s, and it's a new renovation, that's a challenge for any place. I'm sure they'll work it out.

The look of the restaurant is very welcoming, with exposed brick, funky mismatched chairs, distressed wood, and warm colors. I really like the bar, which is plenty deep for eating, or just hanging out with a drink.

The only real problem I have with the place is that I really like the Standard Tap, which is a few doors to the south. But it's going to be hard to resist the siren call of those Tacos al Pastor. Or the goat tacos. Or the empanadas. Or jeeze, those ribs.

www.cantinadossegundos.com

931 N 2nd St

215-629-0500

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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This is exactly how to review a restaurant where the poster knows or has a relationship with an owner. Full disclosure, nicely done Jeff, can't wait to try it. I know I'll have the same problem with Tap being so nearby.

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i've been meaning to mention that i had a belated birthday party here on opening night and had a fantastic time... the staff went out of their way to accomodate our party of 12-15.

but in news of greater interest to most people, i wanted to mention that the chimichanga (a new menu item!) is delicious. like philadining, i had not understood the appeal of a chimichanga until now. but it's everything you loved about your original american-style enormous burrito (warm savory meat, rice, beans, contrasted with cold creamy sour cream/guac and bright tangy salsa) with the added dimension of a flaky tortilla shell. think crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. fantastic!

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  • 10 months later...

In the past couple of months we've been here multiple times and I have to say that I love their tacos. The al pastor ones are great, the chorizo ones are great if a bit overpowering after the second one, the grilled lomo (pork loin) ones they frequently feature as a special really worth mentioning... the only ones I thought I'd enjoy more, though they were by no means bad, were the ones with carnitas.

Their ceviches are also very good - though Paloma used to do a better job - and their cocktails, though perhaps a little pricey and busy, do not detract from the experience.

It's been hour go-to place for odd hours for a while.

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  • 1 year later...

I have it on good word from someone who works in the kitchen at Dos Segundos that they actually put crack-cocaine in their red and green salsas.

Ok, so I totally made that up since I don't know anyone who works there. But I wouldn't be surprised. Stuff is delicious.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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I have it on good word from someone who works in the kitchen at Dos Segundos that they actually put crack-cocaine in their red and green salsas.

Ok, so I totally made that up since I don't know anyone who works there. But I wouldn't be surprised. Stuff is delicious.

Yeah, that's just crazy talk: there's no way they have any crack left after they make the goat tacos and the empanadas!

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