Last week, I chose to try out Totopo on 660 Washington Road, Pittsburgh in Mount Lebanon’s uptown area after hearing fantastic reviews from friends. I had never heard of Totopo before, and I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t ask friends what was good or not at Totopo, I just went in cold (but of course leaning towards tacos!). Now, after my first visit I have so much to share with you guys and I don’t even no where to begin!
I guess I should start with their hours and specials. Totopo is open Monday-Thursday 11AM-10PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-11PM, and Sunday 11AM-9PM. So there’s no excuse not to make it for lunch or dinner on any day of the week. I would highly recommend going to Totopo during happy hour which is Monday-Friday 4-6PM. During Happy Hora, they have $1.00 draft beer, 1/2 off house margaritas (lime, on the rocks only), and 1/2 off appetizers (except table side guacamole). Now in addition to happy hour, they also have daily specials Sun-Sat. Even though we went on a Monday, we let it sneak that we were on our way there on Facebook, and we were given the Taco Tuesday Special which includes the following a la carte options: $2 ground beef or chicken tacos (hard or soft), $3 al pastor, chicken chorizo, fish, cilantro lime chicken, and skinny. See, I told you I have so much to talk about.
After a long discussion with my friend and eating plenty of chips and salsa, we decided on splitting the choriqueso and ordering three tacos each and horchata to drink. For some reason, I was really in the mood for horchata, even over a 1/2 off house margarita. It was so refreshing at Let’s Taco Bout It in Reading, Pa, I just had to have it again. My friend heard that all the appetizers were amazing and since they were half off, it only made sense to give it a try. We ordered the choriqueso dip which neither of us had tried or heard of before. I should of known though that my max limit on tacos is three so three with an appetizer left me with one taco in the to go box.
I do not regret ordering the choriqueso dip. The server brought out each ingredient in separate bowls on a tray to mix the dip right in front of us. First, an empty blazing hot skillet in the shape of an extra small cake pan was set down on a thick wooden plate. Next, the chorizo and grilled poblano peppers were added to the pan. Finally the hot like lava cheese was poured on top and sizzled as it was mixed in with the other ingredients already in the pan. We definitely had to wait a few minutes before diving into the bubbling mix. I really enjoyed the choriqueso. My friend and I called it the Mexican hamburger helper because it had the same color of cheese, thin consistency, and bits of meat as in hamburger helper. I also liked the burnt cheese stuck on the bottom and sides of the dish.
My horchata came out the same time as the appetizer which was necessary since they paired quite well together. For a refresher – Horchata is a traditional Mexican beverage made with rice and other ingredients like seeds, nuts, and sugar, flavored with cinnamon, and mixed with some water to a give a milky looking drink. It was very smooth and had the consistency and color of a latte. The horchata was even more refreshing with shaved ice in addition to the ice cubes to make it extra cold.
For the Tuesday taco special, I chose a ground beef hard taco, a shredded chicken soft taco, and the cilantro lime chicken taco. It was nice to have the option of soft shell or hard shell so I tried out both. My favorite out of the three was definitely the cilantro lime chicken because of the chicken and its toppings. The grilled chicken was sliced and soft with no skin or connective tissue. The color was as white as a blank a sheet of printer paper. It was like the cook would carve and select only the best pieces of chicken for this taco. The chicken was placed on a double corn tortilla and topped with thick cut cheese, lime cilantro sauce, guacamole, and pico de gallo. The pico de gallo and guacamole spread definitely tasted fresh and smothered the chicken.
As I was savoring every bite of the taco, the waiter, Ivan (if you go to the bar, ask for him, he’s awesome!) came back with a sample cup of all the homemade sauces. The selection was impressive and included chipotle (would compliment the fish tacos well), chipotle mayo blend, cilantro lime (which was present on my chicken taco), cilantro lime mayo (more mellow and creamy than the cilantro lime), and balsamic vinegar (which would go well with their salads).
After trying all the sauces, I chose the chipotle sauce to add to the beef taco. I figured the rich taste would pair well the ground beef. The ground beef taco included lettuce, cheese, and tomato. The chipotle sauce added some flavor to the ground beef which I think it needed. I used the cilantro lime sauce on the shredded chicken taco. The flour tortilla was super soft and flexible and fit the lettuce, cheese, and tomato just like it was wrapped up like a burrito. I could not finish the shredded chicken taco so I took half of it home along with the rest of the homemade sauces. I could not let those sauces go to waste.
My friend went overboard as well ordering three tacos: the shredded chicken soft taco, tacos al pastor, and the ensenada fish taco. Since you know my feelings on seafood, here’s my friend to fill in on what he thought of it:
The tempura coating on the fish really set it apart from other fish tacos, since usually it’s grilled or ‘regularly’ fried fish. They had a great crunch to them, and all the toppings just fit well. I did add more of the sauce that was already on the taco, just for more oomph. I think Totopo has the best fish taco that I’ve had.
I definitely preferred both chicken tacos over the beef. Next time I visit Totopo, I would to get the cilantro lime taco again, and would like to try the taco al pastor. And of course, another appetizer during happy hour.
Also, incase you’re curious – Totopo means tortilla chip in Nahuatl, the Aztec’s native language. This language is also where the words chocolate, tomato, and avocado come from, amongst others!
Price: $2.00 or $3 per taco on Tuesdays, $12-14 dollars for 3 tacos, fiesta rice and refried beans