Who knows why there's so little Mexican in the 'Burgh--Taco Bell, Chi Chi's or fine stuff...it is practically nil. There used to be a little place in Etna in the 80s that I still long for--it was a chef's hangout sort of place, the real stuff.
But rather than moan about the derth of Mexican in Pittsburgh, let me say to some of you writing about Yo Rita--Yo, it IS NOT MEXICAN, not meant to be. In it's prior incarnation it was so so Americanized Mexican (Iquana Grill). Current owner Jackie White had a brainstorm--what would a top notch chef do with a little neighborhood joint. She wanted to do something really dynamite for under $10, and as if the gods were with her, she found Kevin Sousa--who just left Red Room, a pioneering chef around town--and is opening his own place (SALT OF THE EARTH< PENN AVENUE IN JANUARY). Kevin took the bite--he was a little antsy to get back in a kitchen, and he loves a challenge. It started out that he would consult and help on a temporary basis, but he just told me he is the "Bill Fuller of Yo Rita" which means he will get the place on its feet, with some seriously fresh tacos--and stay on as council after he opens his place.
THE TACOS!!! A mere template for his creations--they buy them from Reyna's in the Strip, and then Kevin fills them glorious stuff. There's not a word for it--potato, avocado, black eye pea, mushroom, wild salmon (replaced by walleye), fresh water eel, shrimp, flank steak, chicken, duck confit. The new autumn menu is about to come out. All tacos are under $8, The ingredients are simply stunning, heady lettuce and cabbage (try making a taco with cabbage--has to be fresh--I'm a total convert!
He braises meats, makes divine sauces and chilis, uses fresh fresh veggies. So, it's in no way attempting to be authentic Mexican...it's just a little bar with "tacos" like you've never tasted before. He even does some molecular gastronomy.
The tortilla soup and a chop salad are delicious. So are margaritas and lots of fine tequilas.
There's nothing like it around here--and the prices are amazing. I can't wait until they start serving dessert. Meanwhile, go to Dish or the chocolate factory, or even Beehive for coffee or icecream (Dish is a high end choice, but treat yourself not that you've just spent $4 on the best taco you'll ever eat.
I'm hooked. The recession has been a catalyst for some of the best cooking I've ever seen--smaller plates, lesser prices. Great business idea...I may open my own place after all!
1120 E.. Carson ST. 412-904-3557 for Yo Rita
1120 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203