The Best Mexican Restaurants in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh hasn’t always been known for their Mexican cuisine, but the last decade has ushered in a wave of restaurants dedicated to honoring or reinventing the classic Mexican dishes we all love. Whether you’re interested in Thai tacos, chorizo mac 'n’ cheese, or a margarita the size of your head, Pittsburgh has a Mexican restaurant that’s sure to satisfy any level of Mexican food addiction.
South Side, Strip District
La Palapa serves Mexican cuisine that reflects the contemporary food of Mexico City. The Parrillada para sos (a meat lover’s delight) includes four pork ribs, four short ribs, 4oz of grilled Spanish chorizo, a chicken leg, and a thigh. To avoid cardiac arrest, split this sumptuous dish with some friends, you wild animal.
This is where Mexican meets Japanese and creates a beautiful love child in the form of octopus tacos and mouthwatering appetizers like their take on poke: seaweed, tuna, spicy soy, whipped lime, and rice crackers.
A classic taco stand and Mexican grocery store make Las Palmas a lunchtime hotspot every day of the week. At $2.50 a pop, these street side tacos are a steal. Choose from pollo, puerco, lomo, asada, and more as well as cilantro, guacamole, and a variety of salsas from their condiment bar.
Divinely crunchy house made tortilla chips, brisket, brisket, and more brisket. Smoke is superbly talented at taking fall-off-the-bone BBQ and making it into an unforgettable Mexican-inspired meal. On top of having an envy-worthy menu, Smoke is affiliated with Row House Cinema, the movie theatre directly next door that will let you bring your grub in with you. Reefer Madness AND apple chicken tacos? It’s almost too good.
Unlike any other Mexican restaurant you’ll find in Pittsburgh, Casa Rasta combines traditional Jamaican and Mexican cuisines to produce unique dishes bursting with flavor. Casa Rasta serves favorites like jerk chicken, goat curry, and house-made yucca chips. But for the truly adventurous diner, look no further than the Pozole Rojo de Puerco: pork feet, spine and shoulder served with red chili and hominy.
Edgar’s, conveniently located in the midst of Pittsburgh’s Strip District, prepares near perfect tacos with simple ingredients and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over each order on the grill. Their lamb tacos are tender and pair perfectly with a refreshing horchata, or, when the weather gets cold, a spicy Mexican hot chocolate. Pro tip: if Edgar has a special taco of the day, ask no questions and order it immediately. It will be amazing.
South Side, Cranberry, Gibsonia
While making no big claim of authenticity, Emiliano’s has a knack for going big. Whether it’s their Holy Guacamole -- personalized guac made with two whole avocados right before your eyes -- or their fishbowl margaritas, Emiliano’s know’s how to party. So here’s to downing a frozen strawberry margarita and a Super Burrito all in one sitting.
James, owner and creator of PGH Taco Truck, has been concocting inspirational flavor combinations since day one. Everything from tacos filled with General Tso’s to curried potato & mango chutney have graced the truck’s small menu. Their vegan chorizo with pineapple salsa and Thai peanut chicken are customer favorites and long-time stars of the menu. The best part about PGH Taco Truck is that it makes its way all over Pittsburgh and can often be found at The Coffee Buddha. To find out where they’ll be next be sure to follow them on Twitter.
The Cantina is a great spot for cocktails but you’d be sorely mistaken if you didn’t check out their impressive spread of tacos and appetizers. All of the restaurant’s tortillas are made in-house and their “Antojitos” menu includes standouts like the grilled whole fish adobado, which is dressed with cilantro-lime vinaigrette, pine nuts, chipotle, and cebollas.
Los Cabos is home to the nostalgic combination plates from your childhood, piled high with enchiladas and chile rellenos and finished with a cherry topped bowl of fried ice cream. And don’t forget to grab yourself an order of carne asada fries, a bed of french fries topped with grilled steak, cheese guacamole, salsa, and crema -- a SoCal favorite that you won’t find anywhere else in Pittsburgh.
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Julianna Bagwell is a Freelance Writer in Pittsburgh who grew up in the Southwest and eats tacos for almost every meal.