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We had the opportunity to chat with so many of the chefs behind FEASTIVAL participating restaurants, and now we’re sharing those interviews with you! Today we’re talking to John Rodriguez, the executive chef at Philly’s own Mexican cantina Mission Taqueria.

Audi FEASTIVAL: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Chef Rodriguez: My childhood dream was to become a zoologist. I always loved the Bronx Zoo. Each visit, I never wanted to leave.  

Best pre-theater dinner spot in Philadelphia?

Res Ipsa, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Pizzeria Beddia.

Best post-theater drink spot in Philadelphia?

Fountain Porter for a glass of wine or maybe a bottle if things are going well. And, of course, Mission for some killer margaritas. 

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in Philadelphia or the food scene over the last decade?

Over the last ten years, there has been a massive change in the Philadelphia dining scene. I think there has been a big push in egalitarianism in Philadelphia’s restaurants. Philadelphia is a blue-collar town, and our best restaurants reflect that. Diners in Philadelphia want to go out a few times a month, which is why you see some of the most successful restaurants are those with lower check averages. Those of us who are focused on great food, drinks, and service want everyone in Philadelphia to be able to enjoy it. 

What was the first play or concert you ever saw?

My first concert was Bouncing Souls at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. The year slips my mind, but I do remember being too young to be there…

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

Breakfast [is my favorite meal].

The best breakfast I ever had was at Molino El Pujol. It is a small tortilleria in Mexico City owned by Chef Enrique Olvera. The menu only has 6 items on it, but you must have the avocado tacos with bean puree, spinach tacos, the amazing tomale, and a mug of atole. Atole is a corn drink made from the ground corn used to make tortillas. [Atole] is typically spiced with cinnamon and served hot.    

Thank you to John Rodriguez and Mission Taqueria!

Mission Taqueria,  a lively Mexican cantina in the heart of Center City Philadelphia offering a variety of fresh & delicious Mexican food, is located above their sister restaurant (and fellow Audi FEASTIVAL participant) Oyster House at 1516 Samsom Street, Philadelphia PA 19103. Keep an eye out for their collaborative dinner series TacoLab where the restaurant teams up with other fabulous local chefs to create a unique meal.