Taco Blogging Above Pittsburgh in Mt Washington
I am very excited to announce that I am all moved into my new place in Mount Washington. I am currently sitting outside on my giant covered porch on a kitchen chair, sipping on a glass of wine, listening to Atlas Genius’ Pandora station with a giant step ladder as my laptop table all while blogging away about my most recent taco experience. Although this may look awfully strange, the set up is efficient. In less than a week of moving in, I was pretty settled in but needed to take a trip to a nearby Walmart to grab some essentials. I figured if I was going to need a trip to the Walmart in Heidelberg, it would be a perfect opportunity to head to Carnegie for dinner at a place both my friend and aunt have told me about called Bakn.
Nate picked me up from my place on a Friday night and we headed to Bakn on 335 East Main Street in Carnegie. As soon as we made it to the downtown area of Carnegie, I was thoroughly impressed. The shop and restaurant fronts were super cute with a mix of historic appeal and Nate’s favorite, ghost signs on sides of the older buildings. The streets were crowded with happy couples and lively families. Everyone seemed to pass someone they knew as couples would stop to talk to their neighbors and friends on the side of the streets as we walked from the parking lot to Bakn.
We were pleasantly greeted by the hostess who took us to our high top table by the kitchen. Before we arrived at Bakn, we scanned the menu briefly to see what tacos they had in store. Our plan was to split the pork belly tacos and another entree. It wasn’t until I had the actual menu in my hand that I realized they also had Bakn’ cake tacos. I used to Snapchat pancakes every morning prior to working an evening shift to all my friends. Second behind tacos is my love and addiction for chocolate chip pancakes. The menu item had three bacon stuffed pancakes, cheddar cheese, egg, Applewood bacon, peppered bacon, arugula, AND bourbon maple syrup. Um…yea no brainer that was the second entree we ordered to split. This isn’t my go to chicken or al pastor taco either so I excited I was branching out with this choice.
Food Network Taco Stars
We did not know this until our waitress brought it up after we ordered the Bakn ‘cake tacos, but Bakn was on the Food Network show Ginormous Food (Season 2, Episode 8) for their Bakn Quake. Three 20-in pancakes (about 160z of liquid batter) filled with fried eggs (a dozen), cheddar cheese (about a pound) and seven types of house made bacon (about 3 pounds worth), topped with maple syrup and then folded into a taco shape using a pizza pan. That is something I have no desire or stomach to try (as much as I love pancakes AND tacos).
Just a second prior the arrival of our pork belly and pancake tacos we met the head chef and owner, Randy who was walking around the restaurant talking to friends/customers (both?). We ended up talking to Randy quite a bit about the tacos, ingredients and general area of Carnegie. It was a pleasure meeting him and being able to openly talk about food. We talked to him so frequently throughout the course of the meal that I was super awkward munching and talking at the same time so I let Nate do a majority of the talking since I was taking down the cakes and gnawing on french fries every moment I could. Bakn beast mode.
I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to feel about arugula, syrup, cheese, pancakes, and cheese mixed all together in one taco. I mean bacon goes with everything so I wasn’t concerned about that ingredient, but all together the placement was perfect. The bacon filled pancake shell was first layered with cheese, topped with egg, an additional layer of bacon strips (applewood and peppered bacon) and then finally arugula. I tried to aim the bourbon maple syrup to hit the sides and just the top more to basically target the bacon strips and pancake shell. The syrup was perfect. I could taste just a hint of bourbon-y heat but not overly powerful. Nate has had bourbon syrup before, but said it’s mostly that in name only. This syrup definitely has the bourbon in it, and you can taste it but you’re not going to need a DD after breakfast using it.
What I was most impressed about with this taco was the pancake shell. This was definitely one of the heaviest tacos I have ever had and I was just in awe that the pancake shell did not break at all. According to Randy, there was a lot of trial and error involved in making the perfect shell. Turns out 2 oz of batter in a 6 in. pan is what is needed for the right makeup. Nate went all in and was eating his like any other taco, shell staying intact until the last bite.
Since I wanted a bacon strip in every mouthful, I had to bite hard to make it happen without taking the whole strip with me. I also had to eat the taco fast before the yolk part of the egg dripped through the ends of the pancake shell. I never eat fast so I discovered a lot of fried egg on my hands hours after dinner.
Pork Belly Tacos
The other taco we had were the pork belly tacos. Now, my favorite pork belly tacos so far in Pittsburgh have been at Inserrection AleWorks when they occasionally have taco specials on their menu, but this pork belly taco has the potential for taking first place in my heart.
The pork belly tacos were topped with a tangy slaw, pickled red onions and pineapple aioli all served on a soft shell flour tortilla. Out of each bite, the ingredient I could taste the most was the pork belly. It was so meaty and crispy. I like how the slaw was not as tangy as expected, and the onions were pickled in rice vinegar, salt and sugar as opposed to just pickled in vinegar. Randy explained to use that this was to give them a mild and not overwhelming burst of tang. All the ingredients here were simple and meant to put emphasis on the meat itself.
Now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fries that came with the pork belly tacos. They just made it a complete perfect meal. I had to ask Randy what he seasoned the fries with because they were so addicting. He called it “Chef spice” which included rosemary, basil, thyme and salt at minimum. They were unbelievably flavored and addicting, with the rosemary shining through strong.
All in all I had a great first time experience at Bakn, and Nate and I definitely are planning to make more trips to the downtown Carnegie area.
Price: Pork belly tacos with bomb fries $11, Bakn ‘cake tacos $16. (I could only eat one of each so had a pork belly taco for leftover for lunch the next day)