Los Gallos wasn't the first taqueria in South Philly, but when chef-owner Luz Jimenez opened his BYOB in 2009, it was the first to land so deep in the old Italian heart of Lower Moyamensing, at 10th and Wolf.
With its colorful banners and muraled wall of the Puebla homeland, it remains one of the city's most reliable destinations for tacos al pastor, fresh guacamole, and enchiladas stuffed with huitlacoche.
But it notched another citywide favorite for me with a recent tostada special topped with braised chicken tinga stew.
It's a common dish, but the details here set it apart. Unlike many places, where the crisp rounds are purchased pre-fried, this tostada's tortillas are fried fresh, which lends both a wavy irregularity but also a fragrant corn base.
Then comes a base of excellent refried beans, aromatic with epazote and distinctive in a blend of creaminess and whole-bean texture that comes from the use of Peruvian beans (vs. the usual pintos).
Finally, that tall mound of chicken is braised to superb tenderness, not overly shredded, and is served moist in a brothy gravy infused with chipotle's smoky spice that avoids the acidity of too much thick tomato in the mix.
Jimenez likes to think of his tinga as one of the menu's tamer items. But mine brought a decidedly heady heat. Take a bite of the fire engine-red peppers draped over top, and your lips will hum with the knowledge that this tostada is anything but mild-mannered.
Tostadas de tinga de pollo, $9, Los Gallos, 951 Wolf St., 215-551-1245; losgallosmexicantaqueria.com