Convenience is key.
Of course, people are more adept to going to chains - they're everywhere! Here in Pittsburgh, no matter which shopping area you go to - Monroeville, Robinson, Century III, The Waterfront, Waterworks - you are likely to find a TGI Friday's, or Eat 'N Park, or Wendy's...
Convenient, yes, no matter where you are.
Sometimes, though, it is so much better to ditch convenience and go with somewhere local and independent. Try something unconventional. Inconvenient, yet worth the adventure.
Luckily, I don't have to be inconvenienced to go to Smoke Barbeque Taqueria - even if it would be worth it.
It's less than 10 minutes away. Probably the most inconvenient part is the on-street, metered parking. However, James is often willing to play delivery boy to avoid any inconvenience.
He's so awesome.
The day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday - Smoke unveiled some additions to their menu, all of which I was thrilled about because A.) I had pretty much tried everything on the old menu already, and I was losing the sense of adventure, and B.) I knew they could come up with really creative tacos, just based on that Chicken Apple Taco that I was lucky enough to try once as a special. Over the course of a few trips, both take-out and dine-in, I tried the vast majority of the new menu.
|New Menu, Page 1|
|New Menu, Page 2|
I was most elated to see that the Chicken Apple Taco had made its way onto the new menu. It is now my #1 taco choice any time I go - usually, I get that one, another taco (either a new one from the menu that I haven't tried, or an old favorite like the Veggie Taco), and a side on each visit. The sauce on the taco is what makes it - a smoked jalapeno mayo, which is not super-spicy, but very flavorful.
|Chicken Apple Taco - my #1|
Another new addition to the menu is the Philly Taco - which is just as you would imagine: beef, onions, peppers, and cheese. However, they use their best types of each: beef BRISKET, SAUTEED onions, HOT peppers, and AGED SHARP WHITE CHEDDAR cheese. I took 9 other members of my family to Smoke right before Christmas, including my dad - the picky, set-in-his-ways eater that I mentioned in my Mallorca post. He asked what I thought he would like, and I suggested the Philly Taco, since he likes a similar hoagie from Pido's Pub so much. I was right. I liked it, too, when I tried it on one of James' delivery trips, more so than any Philly cheesesteak I've ever had.
James tried the BLT taco before I had the chance to, and he described it as probably one of the "healthier" options, due to the fact that it has more veggies on it than the other tacos.
Bacon? Healthy? I don't know about that.
It has the classic BLT ingredients - bacon, lettuce, and tomato - but it also had a smoked pepper mayo that made the flavor pop. I love, love, LOVE the smoked bacon that they make in-house, and any time I get the mac 'n cheese, I get it with the bacon. To me, this taco was delicious, given my love for their bacon, but the mayo and fresh veggies made it all the more fabulous. I chose this as my second taco on a trip to Smoke with one of my regular dining partners, Food Collage, and her fiancee, R. Food Collage got her mac 'n cheese with bacon, and it's safe to say that our dining group (James included) is enamored with Smoke's bacon.
On that recent fateful trip with my family, I finally tried the Chorizo Taco. Chorizo is definitely my favorite type of sausage, and I have had theirs on the Breakfast Migas Taco before as my meat option. The sausage itself is spicy and full of flavor, as any great chorizo should be. The taco also includes pinto beans, crispy potatoes (like on the migas), and a smoked pepper pico de gallo. My aunt from near Philadelphia, who was with us on this outing, got the chorizo on her mac 'n cheese and loved it.
There are also some new side and snack options on the new menu. James had tried the chili on his first trip and insisted that I needed to try it. Also, they have chili mac, which is just the chili poured over macaroni noodles. Either way, the chili is fantastic - no ground meat, only their smoked beef brisket. Spicy, but not overly spicy, and as great as any chili should be.
|Chili, Chili Mac, and an old favorite - Red Potato Salad (with bacon) - and how about that placemat? ;-)|
Two "snack" options have been added to the menu as well, one of which is Frito Pie: Fritos Scoops, covered in their new brisket chili, cheese, and avocado cream. The best way that I can describe it is an upscale, classier "Walking Taco" (although I wouldn't try to walk and eat this!). I tried this and shared it with Food Collage and R., although he didn't try much. Food Collage helped a little, but I ate the majority of it and took some home.
Just a note - share with at least 4 people, and don't have leftovers. Scoops get super soggy (but I still ate the leftovers, it was that good!)
Frito con Queso is the other new "snack" option - Fritos Scoops served with a pico de gallo queso. My aunt, uncle, cousins, and mom shared this on the family outing, and the cheese sauce was very tasty - definitely shareable with a group of at least 4 people, too!
|Frito con Queso|
I need a beverage each time that I eat there, and it is always a debate between the Agua Fresca and Horchata. I love the Horchata, but if the Agua Fresca flavor sounds good, I'll get that. I've tried many types of Agua Fresca over the course of my visits:
|Raspberry & Blueberry (mixed)|
Compared to the old menu, the prices have gone up slightly, but so have the portion sizes. It appears that the tacos have more filling, and the sizes of the sides has definitely increased, so you still get your money's worth (and thensome!).
Smoke Barbeque Taqueria has been the subject of 5 of my posts now, and I cannot tell you how awesome this restaurant is. Just today, China Millman from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said in her article, "Smoke Barbeque Taqueria in Homestead was probably the most universally beloved new restaurant of 2011." So true. Every article and post that I have read from local reporters, food bloggers, and tweeters that I follow have been nothing short of positive, congratulatory, and even grateful (for the restaurant's existence).
In addition, it is where James and I met for the first time. Smoke will forever hold a special place in my heart.
At this point, all I can say is that if you haven't gone yet - go. Just not on a Monday - they're closed.
Smoke Barbeque Taqueria
225 East Eighth Avenue
Homestead, PA 15120
My Previous Posts on Smoke Barbeque Taqueria: