Sunday, October 16, 2011

…My Strip District Visit, 10/15/11, Parte Uno – Foods I Didn’t Make Myself

When I’m busy – I make myself busier.

As if I didn’t have enough to do this month, I quickly realized that the only plans that I had for the weekend of October 14th, 15th, and 16th were to go to the Homecoming game on Friday night and work at the switchboard at Kennywood on Saturday night.

Whoa.  What to do with my spare time?!  Clean my house?  Organize my closet?  Pull flowers out of my garden?  Pfffft, no,…

…visit the Strip District, of course!

I know, it feels like I was just there, and I should probably go visit Squirrel Hill or some other neighborhood that I haven’t visited yet, but I couldn’t resist.  I had tacos on the brain from my visit to Smoke Taqueria on Wednesday, so I just HAD to try the tacos at Reyna’s Taco Shack outside of Reyna Foods (where I buy REAL tortillas – see previous Strip District post and bonus post). 

I have only ever had a bite of a burrito from that stand before, and it was awesome, as I remember, but I wanted to try their tacos to see how they compare.  My mom and I drove down to The Strip, found a parking place RIGHT outside of the Pittsburgh Public Market (score!), and began our shopping adventure around 10:30 AM. 

We perused the market for ingredients for some recipes (more to come on that…), took our wares to the car, and moseyed on up to Penn Ave., quickly realizing that we should probably have more cash than we did to make purchasing items easier. 

The ATM is right next to Reyna’s, so after loading up on cash, we decided to stop for our tacos – especially since I hadn’t eaten breakfast, knowing that I would most likely eat my way through The Strip.

I’m so smart.

After looking over the menu, I knew that I had to be different and go with the most unusual taco – not pork, not chicken, not beef, but…”lengua”.  “Lengua” in some Spanish-speaking countries means “language”; however, it is also the word for an important part of speaking any language…

Lengua Taco from Reyna's Taco Shack

…you got it!  TONGUE!

I ate a tongue taco.

In addition, I couldn’t order a normal beverage to go with a tongue taco, so I opted for hibiscus water.  My mom chose a regular bottle of water to go with her chicken taco.

Cooking the tongue
Warming the tortilla and adding the veggies

The tacos were made in front of us on the griddle of the taco stand.  Once they were finished, we had to find someplace to settle and eat, so we opted for the curb around the corner, across from Chicken Latino.

Mmmm, Chicken Latino…yucca fries…plantains…

My taco was delicious – not quite as delicious as the unique chicken and apple taco from Smoke, but it was a classic – fresh, warm corn tortilla, cheese, cilantro, lettuce, tomato, lime zest, onions…and of course, tongue.  My mom raved about her taco, too, and commented on how she really liked the lime flavor in her taco.

I told her that lime makes everything better – but honestly, I think that only applies to Hispanic foods.

Hibiscus Water

My hibiscus water was definitely different, but good.  It is like an agua fresca, but the flavor is hard to describe – kind of grapey, kind of tropical fruit-ish.  I devoured it quickly, nonetheless.

We ventured down to the Firehouse Farmer’s Market, which is completely outside, and where I was talked into buying horseradish root (I usually buy it jarred and pre-grated).  The winds were crazy, and things were blowing around – and I was pretty cold, so that ended the trip to that venue.  

Horseradish Root

After stopping at a few non-food establishments, we were back at 21st Street, which meant that it was time for Peruvian deliciousness at Chicken Latino.

There was only one other group there when we arrived (yay!  I’m not a fan of crowds, and the streets were crowded that day).  We were immediately waited on and asked what we would like to drink.  My mom, who has never been to Chicken Latino, followed my lead and ordered Chicha Morada.

Without a doubt, I had to order yucca fries so that my mom could try them (not that I’m addicted to them and the green sauce at all – not at all….), and I wanted to try their fried plantains.

Yucca fries!

My mom liked the Chicha Morada, and she seemed to like the yucca fries with green sauce and mayo just as much as I do.  The plantains were hot (temperature-wise), delicious, and fried to golden perfection.

Fried plantains
 I had already had the ceviche and Peruvian-style chicken before, I needed to try something different, and really, the only thing “authentic” that I haven’t tried is a big-as-your-head quesadilla.  I opted for the vegetarian one, which is made with black beans, rice, and cheese.  

Veggie Quesadilla at Chicken Latino
 I need to learn why my quesadillas at home don’t taste this good.  Maybe I need to add rice to them.

The only piece that I ate there, I swear!
 Ok, so you’re probably thinking that I’m a pig for eating all of this food, but I didn’t eat it all.  I had the taco from Reyna’s, then I had maybe – MAYBE - half of the yucca fries and plantains, but I only ate one piece of the quesadilla there.  See, I had a plan – eat what I could, then take the rest home for my dinner at Kennywood that night, since I was working 5 PM-1 AM.

Like I said before – I’m so smart!

My mom took her leftover chicken quesadilla, the rest of the yucca fries, and the lone leftover plantain home for my brother, who was unable to come with us because he agreed to help out a co-worker by working part of the day for her.  Awwww. 

Chicken Latino never disappoints – even if you can’t make it there, apparently!

There is so much more to say about this trip to The Strip, but the results of some of my other purchases remain to be seen…stay tuned for the next chapter…

Reyna Foods & Reyna’s Taco Shack
2031 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Chicken Latino
155 21st St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Chicken Latino on Urbanspoon

The Strip District Website:
Strip District Twitter:!/StripDistrict

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