We tried out the new, second location of Adobe Cafe way down at the bottom of E. Passyunk Ave. a couple of weekends ago. I've never been to the original Adobe Cafe, a Southwestern and Mexican restaurant in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philly.
From our South Philly (almost Queen Village) house we strolled past the authentic taquerias along Passyunk, deeper into South Philly past Cantina Los Cabalittos, and finally reached Adobe's new abode.
One smaller room holds a horseshoe-shaped bar with TV's, and the other larger room (quite large!) holds booths and tables surrounded by walls covered in hand-painted murals and glue-gunned decorations. I felt as though I had been transported to a suburban Mexican restaurant where square footage is cheap, and cheap decor is the norm. Kind of refreshing, actually.
On a late Saturday brunch, there was no one in Adobe. No one! Except for a couple of people drinking beers at the bar. We had the entire dining room to ourselves. The bartender was our waiter, and since we were the only table we got mediocre service. You'd think it would be the other way around, but I guess since we were the only ones there he didn't have much reason to poke his head around the corner frequently.The complimentary chips were tricolor from a bag. I'm not a chip snob or a chip lover, so could care less. The complimentary salsa was slightly spicy with hints of marinara. Huh?
The taco salad with finely shredded iceberg lettuce, shredded cheese from a bag, runny guacamole, sour cream, and diced stewed tomatoes that tasted like a cross between Italian and Mexican tomatoes from a can was the worst thing that we ordered. It came with a side of some very sweet dressing that we never even considered pouring on top. I imagine something of this caliber is offered at college cafeterias. I wouldn't know, though.
What is awesome about the Adobe Cafe is that they have a lot of vegetarian options. I just couldn't resist ordering vegetarian chicken wings. I secretly hoped they'd be in the shape of chicken wings (kinda how you hope someone makes a seitan turkey in the shape of a turkey), but we got hunks of seitan smothered in sweet and spicy barbecue wing sauce. The accompanying ranch dressing, shredded iceberg lettuce, and paltry celery sticks and baby carrots was lame. But isn't that about right with wings? I'd probably feel the same about real wings. Meh. Order this dish on the bar side of the restaurant when watching a sports game, not while eating Mexican.
Adobe's sweet and slightly spicy seitan tips were the best thing that we ordered if you discount the shredded iceberg lettuce, and overly sweet chipotle aioli sauce that didn't taste a thing like chipotle or aioli. Seriously, that little bit of seitan sitting in the blue corn tortilla cup was the only decent thing we had at Adobe.
With Mexican food that's as good as when I reach into my fridge and pull out a tortilla from my grocery store pack of ten and fill it with leftovers and a dab of salad dressing for a quick snack, Adobe Cafe is going to have some stiff competition with the always packed Cantina Los Caballitos just a few blocks north. And the funny thing is that, considering we were the only people in the entire place, we waited longer than we should have to get food comparable to my late night snacks.
I wish any business the best of luck, but I can't see myself returning to Adobe Cafe. I always have tortillas in my fridge.
1919 E. Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 19148