Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Perfect Fusion of Barbeque & Mexican- Smoke Barbeque Taqueria

225 East 8th Avenue- Homestead

Blink and you might miss this little hidden gem along the main drag of Homestead.  (Well, we actually did during our first passing by & had to turn around & come back! ;) )  If you are looking for an alternative to the big name chains of the Waterfront, then take the short hop across the bridge to 8th Avenue and seek out Smoke Barbeque Taqueria.  Smoke offers 7 delectable tacos (including 2 breakfast versions served all day) for $2.75 to $4.00 a piece.    You can also include any of their 5 amazing sides to your taco order.  I strongly advise adding their housemade bacon to anything and everything that you can.  It is that good.  ;)  

From top left, clockwise:
  • I chose the Red Potato Salad to accompany my 2 tacos.  The potato salad was creamy and very flavorful with the addition of the sauteed leaks.  The salad is topped with tender chunks of Smoke's housemade bacon, lending the dish a nice smokiness and just the right amount of salt.  
  • My first taco was the Pork Taco- slow barbequed & shredded pork topped with an apricot harbanero sauce & caramelized onions wrapped in one of Smoke's handmade tortillas.  The apricot harbanero sauce is what lured me into ordering this taco.  I was intrigued.  The sauce was slightly sweet, a bit acidic, with just a tad of heat.  I enjoyed it, but really could have used just a bit more sauce in my taco. 
  • My husband ordered a side of the Mac 'N Cheese to go with his Pork taco and his Brisket taco.  The mac 'n cheese was creamy, but not heavy.  It is a perfect blend of elbow macaroni, mascarpone cheese, roasted garlic, and shallots.  It was topped with a generous helping of shredded sharp white cheddar.  The only thing that would have made this mac 'n cheese better would have been the addition of Smoke's housemade bacon (which by the way you can do!).  ;)
  • The second taco I ordered was the Veggie one.  This vegetarian version is quite substantial with black beans, roasted poblano pepper, a corn relish, crispy potatoes, & their housemade chili de arbol sauce.  Warning:  the chili de arbol sauce is not for the faint of heart.  It is spicy.  I ordered a side of the Avocado Cream to help counter the spiciness of the sauce.  It worked. ;)
What you need to know before you go:
  • Parking is on the street.  You will need change if you visit Smoke for breakfast or during the day.  The meters are free in the evenings.  
  • Smoke is presently a cash only establishment.  Make sure you bring enough!  My husband and I ate for under $30 with each of us ordering 2 tacos, 1 side, and a drink a piece. P.S.  2 tacos & 1 side is more than enough for a substantial meal for one person. 
  • Smoke is also a BYOB establishment.  If you choose to eat in and want to partake in some adult beverages with your tacos, bring your own beer or wine.  Otherwise, Smoke offers Aqua Fresca (honeydew melon was the flavor the night we visited), Horchata, & Lemonade ($3.00), all made in house with organic sugar.  If you are ordering breakfast tacos, try their Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice or Mexican Chiapas Coffee.
  • Seating is very limited (an eclectic mix of 3 tables and various chairs), so you may want to plan to call ahead and order takeout- 412-205-3039.
  • Smoke Barbeque Taqueria does not presently have a website, but you can read other great reviews and get info on their hours on Yelp here:

Friday, November 18, 2011

D's SixPax & Dogz (Monroeville)

4320 Northern Pike- Monroeville

A few weeks back I implored my Twitter pals for a few good (and budget friendly) recommendations for a restaurant to grab a quick lunch at in Monroeville.  More than one person replied with D's SixPax & Dogz.  "Hot dogs?" was my first thought.  Since I have found myself with child, I have written off all and any meat products that harbor even the slightest chance of my acquiring listeria poisoning.  Hot dogs & lunch meats have pretty much been ruled out for the 9 month duration.  So I was delighted to find that D's offers veggie dogs.  I can't lie.  I get a craving for hot dogs something fierce occasionally and veggie dogs still allow me to indulge that craving.

From left to right:

  • We started with the beer battered french fries.  I really loved the battered crisp on the outside of the fries.  A small basket was more than enough for two people.
  • I ordered the Mason Dixon veggie dog.  Being from West Virginia, I am used to a good hot dog topped with chili and coleslaw.  I also decided to order yellow mustard with mine (a hometown thing for me).  While I never received my yellow mustard (even when I stopped the server to ask for it), the veggie dog itself was substantial.  It was topped generously with their homemade chili & coleslaw. I loved the addition of red onion to their coleslaw.  
  • My husband had the Bacon Cheeseburger.  Unfortunately, there wasn't very much to say about the burger.  It was average at best.
*It is in my typical style to avoid much negativity in my blog features.  Usually if I don't have anything nice to say, then I don't write a blog feature on an establishment.  This visit to D's SixPax & Dogz left me torn.  It is difficult to find a good veggie dog within 30 minutes of the Greensburg area.  My Maxon Dixon was a damn good veggie dog.  (The only thing that would have made it better would have been that yellow mustard! ;) )  But the service and timeliness of the food was very much lacking.  We did wait nearly 20 minutes for our basket of fries.  The restaurant was steady, but not slammed.  As a former server, I am always conscious & understanding of most situations in which a server or a restaurant might fall short at no fault of their own.  None of those situations were visibly present on our visit.  Will I return?  Maybe.  But I will only be ordering veggie dogs & taking them to go.  
I don't want to judge the entire franchise on just one of their locations though. I have a feeling that I would definitely give the D's in Regent Square a go.  They seem to have it a little more together there:

I will post their website here: , though it is not very helpful.  The only page to the website is a very small print menu that you need a magnifying glass to read.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Have You Met The Headkeeper's Older Sister Yet, J Corks?

26 East Pittsburgh Street- Greensburg

If The Headkeeper is the fun, more casual younger sister, then J Corks is the more mature, sophisticated older sister.  As many of my followers know, my husband and I have been a fan of The Headkeeper & it's laid back, yet modern tapas menu & amazing beer selection since I moved to the Greensburg area in January.  For my birthday this past September, my husband and I decided to give J Corks, The Headkeeper's sister restaurant, a go.  We found that we loved the menu just as much as The Headkeeper's, but just like when you date an older sister versus a younger sister make sure your wallet is a little thicker. ;)

From top left, clockwise:

  • My husband & I started our meal with the Pepper Jack Spinach Dip with Soft Pretzels & Adobo Chips.  The spinach dip itself had just the right balance of spinach and creamy cheese, and just a hint of spice.  All too often, a restaurant will serve you a spinach dip that is cheese heavy or spinach dry.  J Corks gets the balance just right.  The soft pretzels & perfectly salted blue and red chips are the ideal accompaniment for the dip.  My husband & I loved the chips so much that we had to ask for a second helping.
  • For my birthday girl dinner, I ordered the Black Tiger Shrimp Carbonara.  The shrimp were tossed with snow peas, applewood smoked bacon, & a romano cream sauce over linguine.  The dish itself was a sublime balance between light and heavy.  The applewood smoked bacon brought a nice smokiness to the cream sauce.
  • My husband ordered the Dry Spicy Rubbed Center Cut Pork Loin Chop with Adobo Compound Butter.  This is not a chop for the light eater.  This 2 inch thick chop was tender and juicy, cooked perfectly.  The chop itself was lightly spiced, but the spice rub was not overwhelming.  The pork loin chop was served over a generous helping of tomato basil couscous.  *It appears that this item is not on their fall menu.  J Corks does change their menus seasonally.  
  • You can't have a proper birthday dinner without a dessert.  ;)  The dessert choice was a no-brainer for us.  I love gingerbread; he loves carrot cake, so went with the Gingerbread Carrot Cake with a Vanilla Bean Icing.  The cake was moist.  The vanilla bean icing went perfectly with the gingerbread and carrot cake flavors.  What more is there to say? 
What you need to know before you go:

  • Parking is on the street, so make sure to bring change for the meters.
  • Dinner entrees range in price from around $14-$26.  If you are wanting to try J Corks, but are looking for something a little more budget friendly, try coming for lunch.  Their lunch entrees range in price from $9-$16.
  • To be in the know about upcoming specials (such as Wino Wednesdays) & events, become a fan of J Corks on Facebook-

For directions, hours, & menus, click here: