Craig LaBan Goes South Of The Border

Alright. We’re always up for sampling new Philadelphia Mexicans — and South Street’s Las Bugambilias is one of the different ones. Much like Society Hill neighbor Xochitl, Las Bugambilias is a high-end restaurant that takes its cues from New York’s Rosa Mexicano and Rick Bayless’ Mexican mini-empire in Chicago (along with the many DF greats that, in turn, inspired those).

This week, mighty Craig LaBan visited Las Bugambilias… and only gave them two stars. Sample grafs from the review:


The service here can be a little stiff (and so are the margaritas, by the way, which tasted too much like rocket fuel). But Molina’s cooking is the reason this spot should have a chance. It isn’t necessarily creative. But his repertoire of classics is rendered deftly, with good ingredients and an attention to subtleties that are essential to traditional cooking. […]

Las Bugambilias has some great fish dishes, too, including a grouper fillet done in the style of Molina’s native Veracruz, a tomato, olive and caper sauce that could be Italian if not for the swelling heat of mild “blondie” guero chiles. Finely minced rings of more incendiary chiles de arbol lent the garlic and lime sauce for whole fried tilapia ajillo a lingering savor.

With such bold tastes, the kitchen has a number of satisfying sweets to quell the heat. The coconut-flavored flan de coco, fringed with white coconut shreds, was indulgently creamy, much preferable to the bumpier custard of the choco-flan. There were also decent chocolate and vanilla variations on tres leches.

Personally, we think Bugambilias deserves another star… Every time we’ve gone there, the service has been professional and the chefs managed to do something different than the homestyle Oaxacan that currently dominates Mex215 cuisine. In any case, we’ll have the menu for Bugambilias shortly.

Las Bugambilias [Inquirer]

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Craig LaBan Goes South Of The Border