We recently found ourselves in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville in search of tacos. We had just spent 9 hours or more sitting in the car (Matt driving and Kiana snoozing on Ferdie, the giant pink stuffed travel flamingo necessary for all long trips), and we were ready for a long walk and some good food. When we left our apartment, located on the other side of the Monangahela, we had planned on going to Smoke for some tacos, because Matt had tried them a couple of times with coworkers and wanted us to try them together. It was a Saturday night.
Upon arriving at Smoke we were notified that the wait was about an hour – maybe 90 minutes at most. Don’t expect to eat in Lawrenceville on a Saturday night without a reservation, or get there early to get your name in, depending on the restaurant. We were starved and required tacos immediately, so did a Google search for “tacos” and “Lawrenceville,” and 15 minutes later found ourselves walking into Round Corner Cantina on the corner of Butler and 38th. We must have been lucky because only 1 table for two was open when we walked in.
The servers quickly gave us a couple of menus and brought chips and salsa. The chips and salsa were delicious – the salsa was nowhere close to traditional salsa, it almost tasted like an Italian sauce that had red chili peppers in it and a flavorful kick. It has such a fascinating flavor! And the chips were deep fried and amazing. We could die happy on a pillow made of these chips.
The menu was pretty tough to choose from. Everything looked so good! Matt ended up going with Yucatan-Style Chicken tacos (blessing from God, thank you Jesus) and Kiana with the Vegan Mole (mistake, so blech).
Throughout the meal the servers were attentive, and sitting outside on the back patio near the bar was great.
Matt’s Review: Yucatan-Style Chicken Tacos
These flavors – wow. Just wow.
You have to understand, I get chicken tacos everywhere. They are my go-to. They just might be my favorite type of taco. The ingredients are simple and practically universal: seasoned chicken, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. They all blend so perfectly together, that it is nearly impossible to get it wrong.
But sometimes, you find a particular chicken taco that elevates the entire experience. These tacos were perfection.
First, they looked amazing. They were simply art on a plate; art you could eat. (Which is, clearly, the best art. My artist wife might disagree, though.)
But the artistry didn’t stop with the look.These tacos were also functionally perfect. They had the ideal amount of filling! There wasn’t too much filling, which often breaks the tortilla under the weight of the ingredients, or causes it to plop out the back creating a mess on either your plate or lap. Neither was there not enough filling, leaving you to feel empty. No, these tacos were filled just right. Goldilocks would have been impressed.
But beautiful presentation and impeccable functionality, without the right flavor, would make for some very sorry tacos (prime example: read below! My wife’s Vegan Mole Tacos were a such a disgrace). These Yucatan Chicken Tacos reached the pinnacle of flavor. The ingredients were flavorful and perfectly seasoned. They blended so well that not a single bite lacked what the previous bite had.
The Salsa Verde was a major reason that the flavor of these tacos was so delicious. There are many tacos that lean into overly-hot spiciness, or go completely in the opposite direction and become too sweet. This Salsa Verde somehow bridged that gap, being neither too spicy nor too sweet. It tasted so fresh, enhancing the flavor and freshness of the rest of the ingredients.
But the crème de la crème, the icing on the cake, was the tortilla. This tortilla was a house-made, fresh, corn tortilla. It was thick. It didn’t break under the weight of its contents. It was lightly fried, bringing out that amazing corn flavor that completed these tacos. The tortilla alone would have been astounding, but holding the chicken, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, Salsa Verde, and lime-juice together created a taste of heaven.
I will be going back, and I will be getting seconds.
Kiana’s Review: Vegan Mole Tacos
They look pretty, but what a failure of a taco, guys. I wouldn’t even feed this to my dog, but then I remember I don’t own a dog because it’s too much work, so even if I wanted to feed these tacos to my dog I wouldn’t be able to because I don’t own one.
Part of me is definitely joking but there’s a kernel of truth in there – the only tacos I wouldn’t feed to my imaginary dog would be the ones I get food poisoning from, and these only gave me slight indigestion. These tacos were branded as vegan, and to be honest it’s great that Round Corner Cantina has some vegan and vegetarian options. If I went back though, after trying the chicken tacos that Matt got, I would for sure get the chicken. The first bite went straight through the delicious tortilla and straight into a million bland crunchy veggies that just confused the heck out of me. The cabbage WAS SO CRUNCHY AND HARD. The flavor of the tacos overall was lightly sweet and spicy, with a hint of smoke from the tortilla which reminded me more of a crepe than of a tortilla (not a bad thing though). The tortilla was memorable – I thought I detected a bit of allspice in there.
Also, after my first few bites another thing that confused me was that I was promised beans on these tacos, but instead got some kind of mole/bean puree that was drippier than baby food with some random bean skins that had somehow survived the blender.
The only thing that made these tacos better was drenching them in Chili Garlic Cholula Hot Sauce. Like wow. That stuff blew my mind. I had never tried the Chili Garlic flavor, either, and after experiencing it’s taste enhancing (or maybe masking in this case) powers I wanted to buy some for home.
I wanted to like these tacos so badly, but because they were so crunchy I was still chewing 20 minutes later and just wanted them to go away.
Because Kiana was ready to taste something a little better after this taco adventure, we decided to walk around in search of dessert. We found an awesome little spot called NatuRoll Creamery, which had regular, vegan, and allergen free rolled ice cream that was made right in front of you. It was a delicious and perfect end to the day!
Please follow and like us: