I never like to be critical, nor nit-picky, nor condescending. Hard to do sometimes being a teacher, and even in times when I think that I am NOT being that way, kids find infinite ways to take a situation and read it as something completely different from what you intended.
Constructive criticism is necessary for improvement - of anything. As a teacher, it is necessary for me to give constructive criticism for students to become better learners, better role models, better members of society...
It's not easy being a teacher.
It pains me to be critical of restaurants, too, but that's what this blog is for. It especially pains me to be critical of a Mexican restaurant...
Emiliano's - I'm sorry. I am. I had high hopes.
I should have known that Emiliano's fell into that Chi-Chi's-type classification of Mexican restaurants, right along with Don Pablo's, but maybe a bit above Mad Mex in terms of authenticity. Having 3 locations shows that they are definitely doing something right - and given that it was Saturday afternoon, the restaurant had a decent clientele for a neighborhood that thrives on an office lunch crowd with plenty of competition. However, I would hardly call the food "Mexican".
I was down on the South Side for 2 reasons: 1.) To work out at LA Fitness, and 2.) to attend I Made It! Mine, an event organized by the I Made It! Market and Revive Marketing Group. I attended a similar event in Bakery Square in December, and I also attended Handmade Arcade at the D.L. Lawrence Convention Center in November, and had a lot of fun.
|Baby Kocher, donning the Monster Hoodie I bought him from Handmade Arcade back in November|
I met Mrs. Kocher and Baby Kocher to peruse the market, held in the former site of the Joseph Beth Bookstore (the second location, not where LA Fitness is now). Many of the same vendors were there, and I ended up buying some magnets from Leroy's Place for my mom, brother, and James. I also ran into Sylvia from the 'Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tours (great minds think alike, right?)
Mrs. Kocher wanted to do lunch, and with baby in tow, I decided that Emiliano's may be a good choice since it was close and could accommodate a 1-year old. And, of course, I hadn't reviewed them yet, although some of my students had gone there for extra credit (way to beat me there, kids!)
I do love the way that Emiliano's is decorated - especially the tin sculptures on the walls and around the restaurant, which kind of reminded me of the ones I loved at the Tin Front Cafe. Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of them! I hate when that happens! Here is a shot of the bar as you walk into the restaurant (not the same, I know):
|Sombreros on the wall? Verde would not approve!|
We were seated at a booth - 2 adults and a 1-year old - and we were not offered a high chair. Uh, hello? 1-year old? Mrs. Kocher had to ask the host to bring us one, which he did. Baby Kocher was not exactly his happy-go-lucky self on this day, so that high chair helped immensely.
The usual chips and salsa were brought out - a must at any Mexican restaurant. The chips were good, and the salsa was ok, but tasted jarred and not-so-fresh. I could be wrong, but they are definitely not winning any awards for "Best Salsa":
|The usual chips and salsa|
We both ordered iced teas, and a milk for the baby, which took a little while to be delivered to our table. People have commented to me that the service at Emiliano's is slow, but friendly, and I was definitely finding that out quickly. Our waiter was so, so nice - but...
Deciding what to eat was difficult, because they do have an expansive menu, but I finally decided upon the Enchiladas Poblanas, and Mrs. Kocher got a Taco Salad. She commented that she was being boring, but I wasn't going to argue with her (I know better!)
Our food took quite awhile to come out. In fact, it came - and it wasn't our food, so it took another 8-ish minutes for our "real" food to come out.
*Sigh* It wasn't good. It just wasn't good at all. The sauce was mole poblano, which, if you follow my blog, has become a recent favorite of mine, after first trying it at Las Velas, then again at Gran Agave (which wasn't even great, but did not deter me from my preference), and yet again at Verde - but this was just bad. Too sweet, not spicy, and bland.
Also, do you see all of that lettuce? THAT WOULD NOT BE THERE IN MEXICO. Iceburg lettuce is just not common. Covering the dish in colorful vegetables is fine for presentation, but not for taste. I was more disappointed in this than I was with my meal at Gran Agave.
Speaking of iceburg lettuce, this was Mrs. Kocher's Taco Salad. Nothing special:
Emiliano's definitely caters to the American crowd, and I would not call it "authentic" at all. If you are looking for Mexican food in Pittsburgh, Las Velas or Verde are still, to me, your best options. Even though I haven't been to El Campesino in awhile, from what I remember, they are also much more authentic than this. Pretty decorations are nice, but I'm looking for good, quality Mexican (or Hispanic, or Latin American) food. Maybe I made a poor choice in my entree, but I'm not too picky about what I order - as long as the quality is there.
Mexican food fail.
Also, Mrs. Kocher had to ask for a spoon 3 different times before she got one so that she could feed Baby Kocher. We did get some entertainment out of having him try salsa and black beans in the meantime:
|Baby Kocher: Not a fan of beans, nor salsa. I see a project in the making...|
I'm sorry, Emiliano's. I really shouldn't be this apologetic, but I was really hoping that you would come through. Everyone with whom we interacted was so friendly and nice, which makes me feel worse...
Emiliano's Mexican Restaurant (South Side Location)
2557 E. Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203