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Taqueria Morales: Greening Your Taco Tuesday in South Philly
Food

Taqueria Morales: Greening Your Taco Tuesday in South Philly

A new Mexican restaurant on Jackson Street focuses on sustainable practices at an affordable price

When Felipa Morales saw that a small space was for rent at 1429 Jackson Street, she had two dreams in mind: create a sustainable restaurant, and support her daughter and other young people through college. Along with her husband, Melquiades, she opened Taqueria Morales in late December.   

Taqueria Morales separates themselves from other Mexican restaurants in Philadelphia with locally-sourced ingredients, sustainable practices, and treating customers like family.

Taqueria Morales: Tucking Tacos into Compostable Containers

When you grab takeout at Taqueria Morales, you won’t see Styrofoam packaging. Huevos Rancheros are packed in compostable containers, wrapped in a bag that describes ways to reuse it. All of the plastic elements that restaurants typically use have been swapped for compostable varieties; even with corn-based straws. (Editor’s Note: check with your composting provider, as some plastics are compostable only in commercial facilities .)

As Daniela described, “With a startup, it’s hard to really make money for (sustainable swaps), but (Felipa) still strives for it.”

 “She’s learned a lot about how much eco-friendliness impacts the world, and [how] restaurants can really make or break the cycle.”

– Daniela Morales

Focusing on locally sourced, fresh ingredients

Huevos Rancheros Taqueria Morales South Philadelphia
Huevos Rancheros
Taqueria Morales, Instagram

The Morales family wanted quality, local ingredients, an aspect that many fast-casual restaurants miss.

The family sources organic ingredients from local farmer’s markets and local Amish country. As Daniela describes, the balance between price and quality can be tricky.

“It’s one of the most important things to [my mom]. It’s hard because it’s more expensive, and my mom’s mission is to keep the prices as low as possible. Like restaurant-quality food at fast-food prices.”

Most of their meals can be made vegetarian, and the Morales are currently trying to incorporate a vegan queso-fresco into their menu. The restaurant’s most popular dish is the Spicy Salmon Burrito, which is filled with Risotto, spring mix, avocado, onions, and jalapenos.

From Opening to Becoming a Viral hit in South Philly

In early January, Daniela Morales tweeted about the opening of her restaurant, which reached 60,000 likes and 20,000 retweets by the time the taqueria opened the next day.  And JL Jupiter, a food YouTuber with more than 63,000 subscribers, visited.

With more than 220,000 views, the video features the inviting atmosphere of the restaurant; green vines and string lights decorate the ceiling while intricately painted vases adorn the shelves beside the cashier register.

Since opening, they’ve received a welcoming reception on Jackson Street from the South Philly community. Residents say that they’re in love with the authentic Mexican food, which includes generous helpings and the perfect amount of spice.   

For the first two weeks, it’s like, ‘[I’m] so happy to see you guys here.’ I get a lot of comments like, ‘This is what we needed,’” Daniela says.

A restaurant that treats their customers feel like family

Taqueria Morales aims to treat their customers like family, and involves the family members in every aspect of running the restaurant.

When they came to the United States, the Morales hoped to open a business to provide for their family. At one point, Melquiades Morales worked three jobs a day. Felipa opened her first business “Ventura” in 2006 and has been working in the service industry years, where she learned about sustainable restaurant practices. More recently, she has since been working as a part-time housekeeper, while also being a full-time owner and cook of the taqueria.

Daniela is a college student at the Community College of Philadelphia. She majors in Psychology, juggling five classes while also working full-time at the restaurant. Her younger sister designed the interior of the restaurant.

Felipa hopes that they can have a sustainable influence on other restaurants in South Philly, and she aims to discover greener practices for her own taqueria. Daniela hinted that they’re trying to give out drinks without using plastic materials.

From the outside, Taqueria Morales may look like another taqueria with a colorful interior. But behind the cash register is a family that strives to better their neighborhood, and change the world.


Photos: Taqueria Morales, Facebook & Instagram

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Jessica Rogers

1 thought on “Taqueria Morales: Greening Your Taco Tuesday in South Philly

  1. Thank you so much for stopping by Jessica! And thank you to thegreencities.com for supporting a small family business! My whole family is very thankful!

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