Blue Corn: Mexican Eats in the Italian Market

It was a dreary Saturday evening in the Italian Market, but you wouldn’t know it from inside Blue Corn. The scorching afternoon heat had given way to a torrential downpour, and even as the rain subsided the streets remained sparsely populated. When my wife and I arrived at Blue Corn around 6:30, though, we felt the upbeat and lively atmosphere as soon as we opened the door, and we were lucky enough to snag one of the few available two person tables. Having walked by Blue Corn on several recent morning strolls through the Italian Market, we were both eager to see what the sit-down Mexican restaurant had to offer.

Before we even picked up the menus, we both already had two things in mind – margaritas and chips with guacamole, which we ordered right away. The Margaritas were classic, both in name and in taste, and avoided the pitfall of being overly sweet or sugary. They paired well with the chips (blue corn, of course) and guac, which was also just what we were looking for. There wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary with the guac, but this was by no means a bad thing, and the smooth texture mixed with the crunch of the thick blue corn chip made for a delicious combo.

After sticking with the more traditional options to start, we decided to branch out a bit and try one of the specials – the scallop ceviche. This choice was somewhat biased, I’ll admit,  as I had just read earlier in the morning that Blue Corn was awarded the Best Ceviche as part of the Philadelphia Magazine 2017 Best of Philly edition. Was I really going to go to dinner there the same day and not at least try it? Having minimal outside knowledge of ceviche, we both immediately took to the scallops served with thinly-sliced fried plantain chips and spicy vinegar on the side, which added a nice bite to the dish. After tearing through the chips and guac to start the meal, we found the ceviche to be a perfect complement, and we both finished as bigger fans of ceviche than when we started.

Of course, this all built up to the main event, and I eagerly awaited the Blue Corn pastor tacos I ordered, which came with grilled peppers, cilantro, and melted oaxaca cheese. As someone who passionately advocates for corn tortillas over flour tortillas on a regular basis, I was looking forward to raising my tortilla game to another level with the blue corn, and they didn’t disappoint. In terms of the actual filling, the meat was tender without being mushy or stringy, the peppers were juicy, and the cheese was melty, as promised. In addition to cilantro and a lime squeeze, I also topped each taco off with a scoop of salsa verde that arrived separately at our table, which helped bring everything together. At 3 tacos for $12, it was fairly standard from a portions perspective, but the flavor made it well worth it. My wife’s mushroom quesadilla was a hit as well, with a crispy outer shell engulfing what can best be described as cheesy goodness.

At this point, we were all in on Blue Corn, and we decided to finish everything off with a piece of chocolate lava cake for dessert. Did we absolute need it? No. But outside of a slightly slower walk home, neither of us had any reason to regret the delectable treat, which came with vanilla ice cream and strawberries on the side. As we finished off the last of our second round of margaritas (yes, cake and margaritas do go well together under the right circumstances), we also both agreed that this would not be our last time at Blue Corn. While the Italian Market may be best known for its deli meats, cheeses, and, well, Italian food, Blue Corn is a must try for anyone looking to explore some of the other cuisine options in the area.

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