Taco Loco

By | February 5, 2007

Taco Loco
2700 Jane St
South Side, PA 15203
(412) 488-8858
Tu-Th: 11-10; F&Sat: 11am-Midnight; Sun: 12-9

I think I may have mentioned Taco Loco in a previous review where I was raving about Mexico City (the restaurant), but I have been up late every night since worrying that it came off as if I didn’t think Taco Loco was worthwhile.  I hope no one got that impression, because Taco Loco is worth its weight in gold in the Pittsburgh Mexican restaurant scene.  Taco Loco and Mexico City are both taquerias, yes, but they are quite different from each other, and their hours and location make each ideal for separate reasons.  Taco Loco is a more-than-delicious alternative to the Crapcake Factories in the nearby South Side Works, and it maintains an authentic Mexican menu plus some meat alternatives for the vegetarians to enjoy.  Yep, Taco Loco has achieved ‘regular’ status in my book, and if you aren’t sure, the Enchiladas Suizas alone should convince you.

Taco Loco is kind of remarkable in that it has changed location no less than 3 times since it opened, yet it remains firmly in the Southside area.  The first location was on Carson St but was small and perhaps too well lit, if that is possible.  I’m not even sure I got to the second location before it moved to the third.  But the third one seems to have stuck, and that makes me happy because it is a loverly space.  It is homey and cozy, with a big space for parties, an outdoor patio, a parking lot, and room to grow.  It has a great looking bar space, but because they do not have a liquor license yet it is closed to visitors.  By the way, since it is BYOB you should know that Cupka’s Café is just down the street for those six-packs you might want to pick up.

One of my favorite things about Taco Loco is that the proprietor, who used to work at Mallorca, always seems to be there.  He isn’t loitering to pester the waitstaff, but rather he is sitting down to the most scrumptious looking meals, and usually entertaining a couple of friends.  It is the greatest thing because he is enjoying himself so much, and you know that at least he really loves his food.  In contrast, I don’t believe that the guy who founded Applebee’s is sitting down to a big boring plop of shlop at his restaurant every day.  No way – if he did he would know what total crap he is foisting upon the grandmas of the suburbs of America, and their relatives by proxy.  Even their quesadillas are bland!  And that is just cheese!  How is it possible for cheese to be anything BUT delicious!!!

But I am getting sidetracked.  Taco Loco has some very unique and perhaps authentic items on their menu.  Potatoes can be found in a lot of them, including in a fried taco. They have fish tacos too!  YUM-MAY!  Their best taco is probably the chicken taco, which has some kinda special sauce on it.  They also have soy chorizo tacos, and you can get that soy chorizo on almost any item: enchilada, gordita, burrito, or quesadilla.  I heard it is a bit greasy, but I haven’t tried it myself.

About the quesadilla, you should know that it is heavier on the filling than on the cheese.  This isn’t so bad, but you should be expecting it.  Me – I get a quesadilla for the cheese, so I almost never get quesadillas here (go to La Fiesta for some of the best quesadillas around).  The guacamole isn’t fantastic here either, with a more puréed consistency than I like, and also maybe not enough lime (go to Mad Mex for some fab guac).

But, there are lots of other things I do like.  They have this sandwich called a Pambazo that I have a hard time not getting.  It is this bread, dipped into some kind of pepper sauce, then filled with chorizo, fresh avocado, potato, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream.  The whole sandwich is pressed and pan-fried.  To tell you the truth, the first time I got it I thought it would be better.  However, as time went on I found myself thinking about that sandwich and wanting another one!  Now I’ve eaten over a dozen of them, and I have to say – there is something really satisfying about it.   The chorizo grease soaks all into the bread, and it is just delicious!

Then there are the enchiladas.  I haven’t had time to explore them all, but seriously, take heed: the Enchiladas Suizas are a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!  They come in the little pot swimming in all this verde sauce and swiss cheese, and the taste has very many different and intriguing flavors with lots of fresh cilantro. The shredded chicken inside is plump and juicy, and tastes delish when sopping with the verde.  So good!

There are a few more official entrées to be had as well, like huevos rancheros, but I have been preoccupied with ordering all the above-mentioned items.  In time, I am sure I will get to order many more!  And maybe one of the best things about Taco Loco is that it is one of the cheaper meals in the city.  I always feel good when I leave Taco Loco, having paid the right price for an awesome meal.  Try it – and try Mexico City too.  They are not the same, by any means, as Taco Loco is the only place in Pittsburgh that I have ever found a Pambazo or a potato taco.  If nothing else, go to try those.

GET:
Enchiladas Suiza
Pambazo
Strawberry Shake

DON’T GET:
Quesadillas, if you like them for the cheese
They do not have Red Sauce for Enchiladas – only verdé and molé – even though red sauce is listed on at least one part of the menu.

SNEAKY TIP:
Grab one of those sweet, little candies on the left as you leave.  Those things are so awesome!


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