Let's just say it wasn't a great night for Illegal Tacos, the restaurant on South Broad Street.
It started when about 35 demonstrators showed up around dinnertime Tuesday, parked themselves at the front door, and loudly decried what they saw as the racism of the eatery's name.
It got worse when the protesters brought in a local taco truck and parked it outside the restaurant.
Turns out, if there's one thing people love more than tacos, it's free tacos — and demonstrators could have their pick.
"This is crazy," said Dan Loper, 33, who walked by the scene as Tex-Mex, cumbia, and rancheras music blared from the activists' sound system. "I didn't think [the business] would have this backlash."
A protest dance party broke out on the sidewalk. People sang. They dedicated the song "Rata de dos patas" ("The Two-Legged Rat") to restaurant owner Florian Furxhiu.
But while parts of the demonstration were playful — "no taco is illegal!" people chanted — the message was dead serious. The name of the nine-month-old restaurant is hurtful and harmful, activists said, and makes a mean joke of people of Latin American descent and the tense political climate surrounding the Trump administration's immigration policies.
"Illegal Tacos does not have a place in Philly," said Olivia Vazquez, 24, who works in the food and hospitality industry. "We are the City of Brotherly Love, and I feel as a Mexican that they are using the labor of my people and my culture to profit, while using a name that is super disrespectful."
The goal of crowding the sidewalk, said organizers from the advocacy group Juntos, was to hit the restaurant not just in the media but in its wallet.
Owner Furxhiu, 32, said he lost no money on Tuesday evening.
"These kids and social media have misunderstood my work here," he said, claiming the name was not political and that he aimed to promote Mexican food and culture.
He also said he had no respect for the marchers, that they had turned down a request to meet and talk. He's an immigrant himself, coming here from Albania in 2000, and hiring employees from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, and China, giving jobs to other newcomers, he said.
The restaurant's name has been controversial from the start, Furxhiu said, but things got worse this summer after he posted what became a viral Instagram photo: a group of Homeland Security officers having lunch at his restaurant.
" 'Tacos are so good, that they are illegal.' That's my tagline," Furxhiu said. "If people want to take it the wrong way, they can take it the wrong way."
The demonstration started more than a mile away, near Eighth and Cherry Streets, outside Gov. Wolf's district office in Center City. The building also houses Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. In a pouring rain, protesters called on the governor to stop "the countless abuses" committed by the local ICE office, among the most aggressive in the nation.
The local rally was part of a multicity, traveling movement led by the activist group Mijente and christened with the hashtag #ChingaLaMigra. (Yes, Chinga La Migra suggests a particular act and attitude toward the border patrol. Don't look, kids.) Demonstrations have taken place in Chicago, Seattle, and other cities where immigrant communities have actively resisted ICE enforcement.
In Philadelphia, Mijente joined forces with Juntos, a human-rights organization for Latino communities.
The demonstrators marched west in soggy shoes, closing John F. Kennedy Boulevard and then parts of Broad Street south of City Hall, escorted by police.
When the restaurant opened in January, its sign featuring a sombrero and a red-and-green chile-pepper mustache, people condemned the name and started petitions to have it changed.
At the time, owner Furxhiu said he needed a catchy name for his restaurant. He hired Mexican cooks, he said, to execute a simple menu of tacos, burritos, taco bowls, and rice bowls.
On Tuesday evening, the protesters jeered customers who entered the restaurant and cheered a man who approached and then turned away.
"I'm surprised people are still going in when they are protesting right in front," said Madeline Dahlin, 22, of West Philadelphia.
The restaurant visitors were mostly white.
"People are not illegal, though their actions might be," said Sandra, an 18-year-old Bryn Mawr College student who declined to give her surname because she's in the United States without official permission. "But, now, we are also talking about illegal food? That just makes no sense."
One diner flashed a big thumbs up as he left the restaurant — provoking a cascade of boos. Civil-affairs police quickly directed him to move on, lest trouble start.
A thin, blond woman, heading south with a bag of Illegal Tacos take-out, showed the demonstrators her two middle fingers. Three young men left the restaurant laughing at the demonstrators.
"Don't be laughing," a woman in the crowd called after them. "You guys are racist for eating here!"
The Mi Pueblito taco truck arrived at 7:20 p.m., three hours after the protest began and long after people had gotten hungry.
The marchers ate for free, given the option of chicken tacos or tacos al pastor, with pineapple, hot peppers, raw onions, and cilantro. Juntos paid for the food.
"It's really good," said Jennifer Caceres, an 18-year-old Temple University student, as she bit into a soft-shell taco. "I didn't mind the wait."
Her friend, Meztli Cardoso, 21, who also attends Temple, loved the food, and supported the protest against the restaurant and its owner.