After a long shift at work, I made my way home in sight of making pizza for dinner. As I was driving down Western Avenue in the Northside, I saw a food truck stationed up outside of 412 Brewery. Once I saw that the food truck was La Catrina on Wheels, I immediately pulled a U-turn to park. My cravings changed quickly from pizza and wine to tacos and beer.
La Catrina on Wheels is a taco truck that has been on my radar for quite some time. After sampling their tacos at the Pittsburgh Taco Festival a few years back, I have been wanting to get back to their food truck to sample more of what La Catrina has to offer.
I walked into 412 Brewery to claim a seat and grab a drink. The last time I was at 412 Brewery was on their opening day back in the Spring of 2019. I remember that day vividly because I was wearing a wound vac on my chest that beeped about every 10 seconds for days. These were the early months of my surgeries. It drove me crazy and I remember being able to sit in a place with people and noise that overruled the beep and saved my sanity.
After I claimed a seat inside, I went outside to La Catrina on Wheels food truck and scoped out the menu. Taco options included chorizo, chicken, beef, or veggie fillings on either corn, flour, or hard shell tortilla. There is also a shrimp taco on the menu, recommended on a flour shell. I asked the owner what his best taco was on the menu and he said the shrimp taco. So, I ordered a shrimp taco on flour and a beef taco on corn. Ever since my neighbor made shrimp scampi a few months ago, my thoughts on shrimp have completely changed. That was the turning point where I finally thoroughly enjoyed shrimp and actively helped myself to more shrimp. Although I did not order the chicken taco, the owner surprised me with a sample of the chicken. JUICY and tangled with soft onions. That chicken would be bomb in any taco, quesadilla, or fajita.
The owner and his wife started their food truck about 3 years ago and post up at many breweries in and around the Pittsburgh area. I felt like a brewery snob when I have been to every brewery he mentioned from Helicon in Oakdale to Inner Groove in Verona, and to Invisible Man in Greensburg.
The owner of the truck was super friendly and when he came inside the brewery, we had a chance to talk even more. He told me that he gets his corn shells from Las Palmas, who get their corn shells from Chicago. The beef is from the Strip District and he said that the key to the ground beef is the spices he uses when cooking the meat. He keeps the shrimp simple and cooks it right on the spot when ordered.
We also had a long discussion about the tacos here, specifically in Pittsburgh. Over the course of the years, he had to change the ways of his tacos to match what the majority of Pittsburghers wanted. Pittsburgh isn’t ready yet for his authentic carnitas and al pastor. It doesn’t sell like the other tacos do. So he changed his menu to match what is popular and what Pittsburgh can handle. Our food game here in Pittsburgh is definitely amazing, but we are very much still a meat and potatoes type of town and we are still a bit scared of the unknown and unfamiliar tastes. We are getting there!
So how did La Catrina do with their beef and shrimp tacos? Nailed it! I started with the shrimp taco. I added the chipotle like mayo to the lettuce, cheese, and pico. The taco was loaded with shrimp. Ever since the shrimp scampi, I have now preferred the shrimp grilled than the fried or tempura style, but maybe there is a fried or tempura shrimp taco out there that could change my mind. I wasn’t sure about having shredded cheese on shrimp, but it worked. The homemade sauce was perfect. I would rank this taco a 3 out of 5 as I am glad I ate this taco and definitely worth eating the shrimp taco here.
Next, I had the ground beef taco. La Catrina killed it with the Mexican spices. This taco was loaded, too. I really like when pico is used in place of just tomatoes on tacos – it takes it up a notch. The corn shell and the salsa verde were perfect for this taco. I ranked this taco a 4 out of 5 as I would likely recommend this taco to most people. If I could only order one taco here again, it would be the beef taco. A very enjoyable taco.
I hope to be pleasantly surprised again by a La Catrina appearance. I could see myself at Helicon Brewery enjoying La Catrina’s beef taco or trying out their juicy chicken taco after a day of bike riding on the Panhandle trail.
Price: $3.50 for 1 taco or $10 for 3 tacos excluding shrimp. Shrimp taco $5