I recently took a trip to Millvale, one of my favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods, for Taco Tuesday. With a new goal to downsize my apartment and save money on rent, Millvale and my current location of Mount Washington were the top picks on my list. Millvale is booming with breweries and restaurants, and a Baby Loves Tacos will be appearing there soon. And with the bike trail nearby, Millvale is my ultimate hobby oasis.
During the TacoMania events, I tried some of the tacos at Strange Roots Experimental Ales Taproom in Millvale. Although my TacoMania votes usually went elsewhere, I did enjoy my tacos from their kitchen. The Strange Roots Taproom celebrates Taco Tuesday with half off tacos from 5-9pm every Tuesday. The Strange Roots Brewery in Gibsonia also has half off tacos from 5-7pm every Thursday.
Steve and I arrived at the taproom around 7pm for dinner and drinks. If Steve was not going to join me, I would have hunted down a taco-loving friend to join me. With orders having to be two of the same tacos, this is a prime place for a classic taco swap. With that being said, Steve and I ordered a pair of jerk chicken, smoked pork, and Bomb Mi tacos to share. I really wanted to order the smoked brisket with pickled red onions or Stoner tacos with mac and cheese and Fritos, but Steve does not fancy chipotle crema or any type of creams really. We had the choice of flour or corn shell and it was an easy decision for us to pick corn shell for all of the tacos we ordered.
We waited a surprisingly long time for our tacos to reach the bar. The first taco I got my hands on was the jerk chicken taco with pulled chicken, mango chutney, pickled red onion, red cabbage, scallions, and lime. I must say these toppings made this one fabulous looking taco with hues of pink, purple, green, and orange all against a soft corn shell. It was definitely one of the best looking tacos I have seen in the Burgh.
The jerk chicken taco was just as beautiful on the inside with sweetness, spiciness, and crunch in each bite. I loved this taco. I am giving it a solid 4 out of 5. It was a bit too spicy for me, and personally, it will be really hard for me to find a 5 out of 5 taco with pickled red cabbage since that is not a topping I usually crave. Even with the pickled red cabbage, the jerk chicken taco may be the best chicken taco I have had so far in Pittsburgh. The chicken was very juicy and far from dry which is hard to find. Steve loved the jerk chicken taco and gave it a 5 out of 5. He said this taco was perfectly balanced and he also thought the chicken was really good.
The second taco we ate was the smoked pork taco with homemade salsa verde, cotija cheese, pickled red onions, cilantro, and lime. The taco was loaded with pork and salsa verde. Even though it looked like there was enough salsa on the taco, the pork was a little dry. There were some fatty chunks of pork that I had to remove from the taco. I would have liked more crunch to this taco as well. Maybe less meat and more toppings? I gave this taco a 3 out of 5 because it was pretty standard for a pulled pork taco. Steve also enjoyed this taco and ranked it a 3 out of 5. He said it was simple and nothing really blew him out of the water here.
Last, but not least, we sampled the Bomb Mi taco. The Bomb Mi taco included smoked pork (again) with pickled carrot & daikon radish, fresh jalapeno, cilantro, sriracha, horseradish mayo, and lime. I think Steve did not see mayo listed on the menu description because I am surprised he went for this taco. I am also shocked that I agreed to this taco because of the jalapenos and sriracha. I knew I could just take off the jalapenos, but with the sriracha drizzled on top, I took a risk.
This was another beautifully presented taco with warm hues – orange, red, white, green, and brown. I was a little nervous when the taco was in front of me because I could smell the sriracha. As I ate this taco, the heat built but not as bad as the jerk chicken. I think it would have been hotter than the jerk chicken if I did not take off the jalapenos. Steve liked the jalapenos even though he kept blowing his nose the entire time. Clearly, he liked this taco even though his body was trying to fight the heat. This taco comes in at 4 out of 5 because it had a lot of character. More so than the smoked pork taco. I liked the pickled carrots more than I thought I would on a taco. The creaminess was not heavy and paired well against the smoked pork.
All in all, Strange Roots Experimental Ales puts forth some really outstanding non-traditional tacos. For the past 3-4 years, they’ve gotten meat for their tacos from PGH Smokehouse which bumps these tacos up to the next level. I wish the menu had more pulled chicken options as I loved the juiciness of the chicken in the jerk chicken taco. I will definitely be back for more tacos here as I want to review the smoked brisket and Stoner tacos. I will have to find someone who likes crema for another classic taco swap.
Price: $9 for two tacos. Half off during Taco Tuesday and Thursday Specials.