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Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina

verde Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Last week was “Pittsburgh Restaurant Week” and I had plans to try and visit a few places offering specials. I ended up just going to one place, Verde. Verde has been on my radar for a while now and I was really anticipating going. Before entering Verde most parking is all on street. We did find that behind Verde, just up the hill a bit, there are a few reserved spots for Verde customers. When you go to Verde you will notice its modern setting with indoor and outdoor seating, garage style doors, lighted bar and pretty cool lighting throughout the restaurant in general (see the food pic, that isn’t any lighting effects from my phone, its all Verde).

When we sat down we were given chips and tomatillo salsa. The salsa was good, the chips however were stale. Not sure if they are prepared fresh daily, if they are they must’ve been made early that day. We also ordered guacamole, it wasn’t the best guacamole I’ve ever had (check out Emiliano’s for that honor).

For the main event I ordered Tamales de Brisket – Smoked brisket and masa steamed in corn husks, mango jalapeno BBQ sauce, rice & beans. The masa which is most of this meal wasn’t good. It had no flavor to it, what it had was just bland. The savior of this dish was the mango jalapeno BBQ sauce that was pretty tasty. It wasn’t enough to save the meal however.

I wouldn’t recommend Verde to anyone, I could think of a bunch of better Mexican restaurants in Pittsburgh to visit. From the percentage on Urbanspoon I can see I’m not the only one who wasn’t a fan of Verde.

Oh My Grill Mobile Food Truck

omg1 omg2 Oh My Grill Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Not too long ago I discovered the PGH Taco Truck by my office in the North Hills when it was at Coffee Buddha. So I started to follow them on facebook and twitter. Last week I was on facebook and they posted that Oh My Grill would be joining them at Coffee Buddha for lunch hours. So I thought that would be a perfect chance to check out my second food truck in Pittsburgh!

I ordered the “Number One” Smoked Gouda & White Cheddar + Bacon & Caramelized Onions w/ Chive Cream Dipper. If a classic grilled cheese is for kids, this “Number One” is for the adults! Everything was good on this sandwich, the toasted outside with the buttery goodness and then bacon with a little smoke and bite from all that cheese. The chive cream dipper was something different for a dip instead of tomato soup like when I was a kid (even though Oh My Grill does offer a Tomato Soup Dipper).

I also ordered the Parmesan Spinach Balls. These were a nice addition to the meal, good flavor. What really made this side was the sriracha drizzle on top. That sauce was excellent; I wouldn’t mind having that as a dip for my grilled cheese next time.

So far I am very happy with my first 2 food truck experiences in Pittsburgh. I can’t wait for the next adventure!

Station Street

Station Street on Urbanspoon station street

 

I have been to Kevin Sousa’s other restaurants (Salt of the Earth and Union Pig & Chicken) and have enjoyed them. So the last place I really needed to check out was Station Street. While Station Street offers other items outside of hot dogs (like sandwiches and tacos) I decided to stick to the true essence of Station Street during this trip.

I ordered the Chili Cheese Dog, New York Dog and french fries. The french fries were fresh-cut and were very good. I added some malt vinegar to them (provided at the counter) and was good enough that I can’t wait to go back and even try them as the poutine version. I’ve never had poutine so I am really looking forward to that on the next trip.

The dogs were excellent. I love when a place has hot dogs in the natural casing to provide that little crunch when you bite into it. I liked the sauerkraut on the New York dog; it was cooked enough for flavor but didn’t have much bite to it. I would definitely get the New York Dog again. After the NY Dog I was pretty full, 1 hot dog is enough for future trips. However, I still had to make room for the Chili Cheese Dog. The brisket chili had a nice kick to it, usually the chili on dogs are basic. The cheese curds were something different for a chili cheese dog and provided a lot of melted cheesy goodness in each bite.

I took my dad on this trip and he was telling me about his trips to Station Street when it used to be under previous owners when he worked in East Liberty. The food and stories made this a great memorable first trip to Station Street.

SMOKE barbeque taqueria

smokeSMOKE barbeque taqueria on Urbanspoon

I’ve heard about SMOKE for a while now, especially amazing things about the brisket taco, but never made the time to actually go. It’s a shame I haven’t gone before because SMOKE is less than 10 minutes from my house. A few weeks ago before going to a pirate game a buddy and I grabbed a drink at Bettis’ and started talking to a guy next to us and somehow food came up (as it usually does with me). He told us if we haven’t been we had to visit SMOKE.

So I finally made my way to SMOKE. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. I didn’t know if this would be a sit down or mostly take out. Walking in, it is a very modern restaurant and is probably one of the nicer places in Homestead. It is rare that I look at a menu and can say I want to try almost everything.

I got an order of chips with Queso & Chorizo to start the table off. The chips are listed as “fresh fried” and they are pretty awesome, I would go back just for these. The queso was good but I expected a little more spice from it since I added the chorizo. It was still great and something I would recommend ordering.

I thought about ordering so much food, again so much on the menu sounded good to me! I decided to stick with just tacos for my main course:

BLTACO – bacon, lettuce, tomatoes & smoked pepper mayo
– I have to say this taco surprised me. I figured it would be basic BLT. The bacon was excellent, cubed and crispy. The heat to this taco was what really surprised me. I would order this over and over again.

RIBS – pickles, onions & porter barbeque sauce
– The ribs were very tender and paired really well with the barbeque sauce. All the tacos are served on a fresh soft shell tortilla and I think everything on this taco just paired well together.

WAGYUBRISKET – sautéed onions, hot peppers & mustard sauce
– This is what I came for! I love brisket! I don’t have a smoker at home but have been contemplating buying one just so I can smoke brisket. To me this didn’t disappoint! Just like the rib taco everything paired really well together.

Already I can’t wait until my next trip to SMOKE! I will probably go back next week for either Taco’s or maybe go on Thursday to try their wings. There are so many things on the menu I need to try I see a few trips back in my future.

PGH Taco Truck

PTT TacosPGHTACOTRUCK PGH Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

 

I have been following the PGH Taco Truck on twitter for a while now but have’t had the chance to match up their schedule and visit them. This week at work we were running a few errands and driving on Perry Hwy when I noticed the PGH Taco Truck was parked out in front of Coffee Buddha. We decided to stop by and I was very happy that we did. I ordered:

1/3 LB Angus Ground Beef + Cheddar Jack + Salsa
Spicy Jerked Chicken + Avocado Cream
Chicken + Bacon + Cheddar + Sriracha Cream

The taco shells must be home made because they were excellent. The ground beef was pretty hefty in size and I would get it again but nothing to make it really stand out like the others. I tried the Chicken Bacon next…oh man, this was fantastic. I wish I would’ve ordered more to go! Chicken, GOOD! Bacon, GOOD! Cheese, GOOD! Put them all together and add some Sriracha Cream and you’ve got yourself a taco that I will be coming back for (hopefully it is on the menu next time!). The Spicy Jerked Chicken had a nice kick to it, more than I was expecting which was nice. The real winner on that taco was the Avocado Cream. That Avacado Cream really helped balance the Spicy Jerked Chicken well. If either or both tacos are on the menu next time I check them out I will definitely be getting them again.

While visiting their website I noticed that next Saturday (June 29) they will be back at Coffee Buddha for what they call “Food Truck Roundup 5.0”. Check out the event on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/527391463984577/. I know I will be stopping back that day!

Bar Symon

Bar Symon Bar Symon on Urbanspoon

Last week I was traveling to Orlando, so while in the airport I thought why not grab some lunch at Bar Symon. I’ve been looking forward to checking this place out ever since I heard it was going to open. Inside it has a modern feel to it, with some color combinations that give off a cool grunge look and feel.

One of my biggest complaints is that if you order a burger that is all you get. If you want fries you need to order them separate. I also tried to find a menu online for Bar Symon but I couldn’t so I don’t have as many details for the burger as I would normally like to list.

French Onion Burger – The main reason I ordered this burger was because it was listed as a being part of a burger competition and I wanted to see how it was. It had caramelized onions, bacon and cheese. It was really messy. I ordered the burger well and got medium. I ate it because I have no problem with it, but it doesn’t give me much hope for the cooks. When eating a burger I prefer a bun that has some substance to it and won’t get soggy. Bar Symon uses a soft bun, so not only was the bun soft to begin with it got even softer and messier with everything on it.

Lola Fries with Rosemary and Parmesan – As I mentioned before you have to order the fries separate from the burger. That’s a big strike in my book. Even worse is that the fries were awful. They are fried so hard I don’t think there was any potato left inside. Plus if you can tell in the picture the Parmesan is just grated and thrown on top. Rosemary and Parmesan fries sound excellent, but these were just awful.

All together with my meal Bar Symon got 3 strikes. For the longest time I was upset that Bar Symon was inside the airport and that I wasn’t sure when I would get the opportunity to check it out. Now I am happy it is inside the airport and probably won’t ever have to eat their again.

Sideline’s Bar and Grill

Ranch Buffalo & Garlic Parm Bangers N Mash Sideline's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

 

A few weeks back I went to Sideline’s during a Pens game (still don’t want to talk about the Pens). I have heard great things about Sideline’s for a few years, especially being voted best wings, and figured it was time to give them a try. Many places like to claim they have the best wings in Pittsburgh, so the question is does Sideline’s live up to the hype?

On the pictures above I ordered the Ranch Buffalo and Garlic Parm. The picture next to it is my buddy’s order, I believe he got Honey Mustard on the left but on the right was “Banger’s N Mash”. Yupp those are chicken wings with mashed potatoes and gravy! The waitress described them like “Thanksgiving on a Wing”. I tried one of the “Banger’s N Mash” and it was definitely something I’ve never had before or expected to have, but wasn’t bad. I’m not sure I would get them on my next visit, but I’m glad I tried one.

The wings themselves were fried crispy which I like and the sauces were pretty good too. I was more a fan of the Garlic Parm than the Ranch Buffalo. The night I went the place was packed for the Pens game and it made the service suffer unfortunately, so I would not recommend going on a game night of any kind (unless maybe Pirates lol). I was checking out their website and Wednesday night is Wing Night ($2.75 Labatt variety bottles or 16oz draft until midnight and $2.00 Long Islands 10pm-midnight and Wing specials 7pm-midnight). It doesn’t go into detail what Wing Night really is, but I think the next time I go it will be on a Wednesday to give them another try. Overall I enjoyed the wings, they weren’t the best wings I’ve ever had (that honor still goes to Wings Suds & Spuds in Moon Twp in my opinion) but I will definitely return to Sideline’s and try some other sauces.