A few Fridays ago, I had my first ever ceramics class with an expert teacher and friend, Matthew, at a pottery studio in Lawrenceville. Even though I had a very difficult time centering the clay, Matt said he was very impressed with my first session. I ended up making four pieces – two large bowls and then two small dishes that I hope will hold ice cream or salsa. I wish I took photos of my creations before they made their way into the kiln.
Looking back on that Friday, I realized it was a really long day. I was up at 5:30 am to get ready to bicycle with my parents and their bike group on the Montour Trail. At first, I was only planning on riding 40 miles, but I was having too much fun with my parent’s group and ended up riding for 55 miles. This was my first training ride with an almost fully loaded bicycle since my surgery. On October 15th, I am planning on heading down to DC with my friend Caitlyn and we will be biking five days from Washington DC all the way back to the Burgh. A total of 335 miles!
So now that my lower body was aching from the bike ride and my arms aching from spinning clay, I was in need of tacos to ease the pain.
A coworker sent me an article of 8 new taco places in Pittsburgh so I chose a place for dinner from the list – one that I had not been to yet and that was close to Lawrenceville. I chose El Sabor on Penn Avenue in Bloomfield.
El Sabor has been open for roughly 3 months. The restaurant is located on the corner of Penn Avenue next to the now closed Brillobox. I will deeply miss that bar and all the décor and drinks it had to offer.
As soon as Matt and I arrived, we quickly put an order in for chips and queso. Next, we scanned the rest of the menu. I was a little disappointed that all taco orders for dinner came in a set of three of the same, so a classic taco swap was on the horizon. However, during lunch hours, it looks like you can choose two tacos of your choice with a side.
Taco options here included pollo asado, carne asada, carnitas, shrimp, chorizo, grilled tilapia, and grilled tofu. Tacos can be styled two different ways: Tijuana style – soft corn tortillas with cilantro lime cabbage and queso fresco, or Pittsburgh style – flour tortillas with lettuce and cheese. Matt chose the fillings, but I chose the style. We went with an order of the carnitas and pollo asado, both Tijuana style.
Presentation was as perfect as a Cirque du Soleil performance. I loved the idea of skewers holding the three tacos in place (even if all three tacos are the same filling!). The tacos came with a side of rice and beans and a mild salsa verde and a spicy salsa roja. I bet you know which salsa I used.
After Matt and I swapped tacos, I tried the carnitas taco first. A split second into the first bite and I was taken back to the carnitas taco I had in New Orleans at Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria (see blog post here) where I had my favorite carnitas taco ever. The hint of cinnamon is what took me back to NOLA. I have concluded that every carnitas taco needs cinnamon. The cilantro lime cabbage gave the carnitas and soft corn shell some crunch and the salsa verde covered some of the dryness from the corn shell. All in all, this taco came in at a solid 4 out of 5 on the taco scale.
The second and last taco I sampled in our swap was the pollo asado taco. Matt and I both agreed that the pollo asado taco was not as delicious as the carnitas taco. The chicken was VERY dry and lacked the citrusy, cumin, spicy flavor that I expected. I rated this taco a 2 out of 5.
On my next visit, I would like to try the carne asada and grilled tofu tacos, but I would also want to order the carnitas again. Maybe lunchtime tacos at El Sabor would be more economical when I do not have to worry about a classic taco swap.
Price: 3 tacos with rice and beans $12.99-$14.99.