Chefs craft authentic Mexican dishes for dinner and lunch, using fresh ingredients and choice cuts of imported meats. Kitchens simmer sauces to order instead of pre-making and freezing blocks of mole, and guarantee every vegetarian entree is fully meat-free by dusting all tortillas, rice, and vegetables for butchers' fingerprints. A batch of fresh, hot tortilla chips and a dish of salsa greet each table, and Cuzamil's Murray Avenue location pours 15 different Mexican beers and 40 tequilas.
The chefs at California Taco Shop borrow culinary inspiration from Mexico and the Golden State as they fill fresh tortillas with meats and veggies. Their tacos, tortas, and burritos—stuffed with carnitas, beef tongue, and shrimp—transport tongues to sunnier locales with their authentic, equatorial spice and peppers.
Opened in 2003, Mexi-Casa’s playful take on Tex-Mex dishes quickly earned it the tagline “Pittsburgh’s Least Authentic Mexican Restaurant,” according to the Dormont-Brookline Patch. The full bar pours domestic and imported beers as well as hand-mixed margaritas on the rocks margaritas in five fruity flavors. The chef adds his own creative flair to each dish, resulting in globe-spanning combinations such as the Mediterranean quesadilla, pretzels con queso, and the Acapulco burrito—a blend of pulled pork, grilled pineapple, and trilingual cheeses. The menu also offers more traditional Tex-Mex dishes, including more than 40 burrito combinations, soft-shell tacos, and house-made guacamole.
The full bar pours domestic and imported beers as well as hand-mixed margaritas on the rocks margaritas in five fruity flavors. The eatery’s late-night menu offers a limited selection of appetizers and entrees, chicken wings in six sauces.
Cinco’s collection of 25 entrees includes five of the most popular dishes from five Mexican states with distinctive culinary traditions. From Puebla hail the chile rellenos, two butter-dipped and deep-fried poblanos stuffed with cheese and meat. A splash of tequila, on the other hand, imbues chicken and steak fajitas with a genuine Jaliscan flair. Crispy chimichangas call the northeastern city of Monterrey home, and the fish tacos with red cabbage represent Quintana Roo in the southeast. Like a fried mariachi horn, the marinated chicken with potatoes carries the singular flavors of Mexico City.
Named after retired Chicago police officer Jim Mullen, who was seriously injured in the line of duty, Mullen's Bar & Grill first opened its doors in the Windy City before branching out to Pittsburgh. Classic bar fare such as boneless wings, nachos, and burgers shares menu space with deep-fried philly cheesesteak sandwiches and SpaghettiO's straight from the can. An entire squad of flat-screen televisions hangs from exposed rafters so eaters can easily view broadcasted sports without craning their necks or duct taping rear view mirrors to their wrists. Mullen's Bar & Grill has two locations, one stationed near the cheering crowds at PNC Park and the other in the midst of the nightlife scene on Carson Street.
Served after 4 p.m., the dinner menu of Mexican treats blends urban, southern, contemporary, and traditional influences from our neighbor to the south into meals of citrusy ceviche ($12), tacos de arrachera stuffed with marinated hanger steak and salsa ($13), and spicy pollo diablo with a sauce of piquant habanero and smoky chipotle adobo ($15.50).Nestled into a second-story space in the bustling heart of Market Square, Las Velas Mexican Restaurant is well worth the climb. As described by the Pittsburg City Paper, the "greenhouse-like windows overlooking the square" make for "an exceptional people-watching perch." It's not only the intriguing sights, but also the tempting smells that draw patrons up the stairs toward tender marinated meats, richly spiced sauce blends, and notes of fresh onion, peppers, and cilantro furnished by head chef and owner David Montanez. Drawing influences from his native Mexico City as well as the Riviera Maya, David strives to blend the authentic with the familiar; for instance, his tacos checandole centers on shaved pork prepared like gyro meat (but with different spices) and paired with grilled pineapple and a sweet pineapple salsa. As told to Pittsburg Magazine, David also culls recipes from his mother and grandmother, including a passed-down arrachera marinade recipe for steak and shrimp. As patrons raise glasses of house margaritas, sangria, or Mexican draft beers over their flavorful feasts, David and his staff have something to celebrate as well; an electrical fire late in 2010 nearly cut the dream of Las Velas short, but eight months of renovations and hope finally saw the doors reopen. David now describes Las Velas' festive, loft-like space as "a beautiful place … a destination," and he completes the ambiance with bands of black-clad mariachi troubadours, who perform traditional folk songs and refuse requests to play "Freebird."