When my Ultimate Frisbee game was cancelled on a beautiful Thursday evening due to lighting issues at the field, I took that opportunity for a “bike the Burgh” and “eat the tacos” kind of night. The last time I bicycled in Pittsburgh, I went to Taquitos taco truck and Voodoo Brewery. This time, I went to La Bodega in Southside followed by Penn Brewery in Troy Hill. La Bodega was my initial plan last time, but I got taco-stracted by Taquitos less than one mile into the bike ride.
Kevin and I successfully made it to La Bodega located at 1502 East Carson St. We were greeted with some 90’s alternative rock as soon as we walked in. There was also a small dining area, some décor, and a counter. Behind the counter and glass, taco slaying took place. This set up reminded me of Doce Taqueria, even down to the music selection.
Taco options here included carne asada, pollo asado, carnitas, picadillo, chorizo, pan fried tilapia, and chiles toreados with beans and rice as a vegetarian selection. The tacos could either be styled “Mexi-way” with onions, cilantro, lime, and radish or “Ameri-way” with lettuce, pico, crema, guac, and queso fresco. We were also able to select corn or flour shells. I really liked how radish was included in the “Mexi-way” toppings as that is an underrated, but definitely beneficial topping.
I chose the carnitas taco with onions and cilantro on corn, picadillo taco with lettuce, cheese, and pico and split the vegetarian taco with Kevin with onions and cilantro on corn.
The carnitas (pulled pork) taco on a corn shell was first on my line-up. Each bite required a lot of tearing with the teeth as the shell was very tough to pull apart. This was a little surprising as the shell was so thin. However, because of its durability, the shell was able to hold in a lot. The pulled pork was very tangy and I would have preferred a little bit more of a peppery, salty or even a sweeter rub than a tang. A sauce would have also complimented the pork. Overall, I rank this taco a 2 out of 5.
Next, I dabbled into the picadillo (ground beef) taco. There was too much moisture in the beef which seemed to dilute the flavor. A thicker crema would benefit this taco versus sour cream since there was also guac and pico, too. I did not taste the taco as a whole with all the toppings. Not cohesive. Very messy. I ranked this taco a 2 out of 5 on my scale. Both the pork and ground beef tacos came in at a 2 out of 5, but the pork taco had a little bit more going for it than the picadillo taco.
Lastly, I had half of the veggie taco. Too heavy on the cilantro. The beans and chile were both bland and the pico did not compliment the beans and rice. Not cohesive, either. I would rank this taco a 1 out of 5 as I would not order this taco again. A cactus taco could make this more interesting or potato filling instead of the beans and there needed to be more to the rice and pico. The pico did not pair well with the rice.
Here at La Bodega, I would consider adding the crunch shell option on the menu to spice things up. To be honest, it will be very hard for me to pick La Bodega over Doce Taqueria for tacos in the Southside, especially when they are about 2 blocks apart. La Bodega may not be where I think about tacos, but where I constantly replay the song “Whole Lotta Money” by Bia in my head.
Price: $3-5 per “Mexi-way” taco. $0.50 more for the same taco done “Ameri-way.”