Illegal Tacos In Philadelphia Gets A New Name After Racism Complaints

The former Illegal Tacos in Philly.
Stephen Silver

A taco restaurant in Philadelphia that drew criticism upon its opening in 2017 — due to the nature of its name — has gotten a new moniker.

Illegal Tacos, a taco joint on South Broad Street in Philadelphia, is now known as Tacodelphia, Philly Voice reported Wednesday. The sign has already been changed to reflect the new name. Owner Florian Furxhiu said at the time of the restaurant’s opening that he saw the name as “a humorous jab at today’s political climate,” especially with immigration policy debates in the news.

But the name wasn’t taken that way, as groups protested outside the restaurant. A change.org petition was launched, one stating that “Philly welcomes Immigrants, NOT your hate (or your food).”

“No human being is illegal,” the petition read. “Please sign this petition to demonstrate your disapproval with this new restaurant, ‘Illegal Tacos’ on Broad St and Lombard. The name is offensive to members of our local immigrant community in Philadelphia and demonstrates a moral disregard for decency.”

Furxhiu, who is himself an Albanian immigrant, said that he changed the name in order to increase business, as “corporations are not going to order from ‘Illegal Tacos.'”

The restaurant does have positive Yelp reviews, with an overall rating of four out of five stars. “Their food should absolutely be illegal, as it is just that good,” user Brandy B. wrote, in the top review on the site.

This is not the first time a Philadelphia restaurant has dealt with a racially-charged controversy related to its name, leading to a change. A cheesesteak spot in Northeast Philadelphia was known, for decades, as “Chink’s Steaks,” as the restaurant’s late founder had been nicknamed “Chink” at the time that he founded the spot in the late 1940s.

Due to the name also being a racial slur for Asian people, activists began to agitate against the name in the early 2000s, per a Philadelphia City Paper account from 2002. The owner ultimately changed the name to Joe’s Steak & Soda Shop in 2013, Philly.com reported at the time. The owner announced he was making the change due to plans to expand to other areas of the city — a second location opened in the Fishtown region in 2015.

In the city’s other big cheesesteak controversy, Joey Vento, the late owner of Geno’s Steaks in South Philly, put up a sign outside his shop stating, “This Is America When Ordering Please ‘Speak English.'” The sign was removed in 2016, per the Washington Post, five years after Vento’s death.