The long-delayed Shifty's Taco is in soft-opening mode at 2730 W. Girard Ave. in Brewerytown (215-232-1413).
Befitting the neighborhood - above Fairmount and east of the Philadelphia Zoo - Shifty's is a rough-and-tumble-looking 1950s-style Mexican cantina with exposed walls, butcher block counter and open kitchen framed in wood.
Zack Shell (who formerly managed the El Fuego restaurants) and Geoff Gabrick (a chef previously at Circa, Novelty and Latest Dish) make their own tortillas and hot sauces, butcher their own meats, and locally source as many ingredients as they can. "We have high expectations for ourselves," says Jeb Woody, who owns the Honey's Sit N Eat cafes and is a partner. "We want to make the best tacos in the country." Flour and gluten-free corn tortillas envelop the tacos, sold three per order. Prices start at $5 for bean and cheese and rise to $8 for such varieties as "The Rub" (braised brisket with chipotles in adobo) and "The Impostor" ((house-made pulled seitan, pomegranate molasses and chipotle mole).
There's a main table plus some standing room. They hope that most of their business comes from catering house parties. They'll also do deliveries in the neighborhood on bicycle.
Oh, and about the name. "I know the word 'shifty' has negative connotations," Woody says. "I think little things like that are conversation starters."
Check out the menu here.