National Taco Day! A Great Reason for Tacos!
A few Tuesdays back on October 4th, I celebrated one of my new favorite holidays, National Taco Day! I had a big decision to make on how to celebrate this day. Since I was meeting up with friends from Monroeville, Downtown and Dormont, the Southside seemed like a reasonable location.
I decided on Emiliano’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar located at 2557 East Carson Street in Southside. Emiliano’s has two other locations 1) 20111 Route 19 in Cranberry Township (been there) and 2) 5375 William Flynn Highway in Gibsonia. I believe the last time I was at Emiliano’s was two to three years ago when I was living in Southside. During college, my friends and I usually picked Emiliano’s as our dinner spot when we had larger groups or birthdays because they were very accommodating to larger sized parties.
Next decision the group had me make was indoor or outdoor seating. I never sat outdoors at Emiliano’s and I always saw it get filled up during dinner hours and the weather was in low 70s, so I thought we would give it a shot.
With four of us there, the server gave us two chip bowls and three salsa dishes which was a very generous amount. The chips reminded me of Acapulco’s chips. Very hard chips and not as airy and flaky as El Campesino or Patron. Less greasy though than Acapulcos. The salsa was just as good as El Campesino and Patron, very light and not pasty.
My friends began the order with the Holy Guacamole appetizer. The server came to the table with all fresh ingredients to make guacamole and makes a large portion of dip using two whole avocados right in front of you! They use their signature spices too and you can request the level of spiciness during the preparation stages. I believe they do this at Patron Mexican Grill too. The theatrics of it is quite nice though, and you know you’re getting fresh guacamole since it’s all happening right in front of you!
We definitely were planning our timing to Emiliano’s based on their happy hour window. It was not posted on their website but we called to find out that Happy Hour is from 4-6PM. They have a drink special every day, usually a discount on a beer as well as a specialty drink. Tuesday was their $5 fishbowl margarita (lime, on the rocks only). I remember I used to like coming here on Thursdays too when their mojitos were on special. My roommates and I loved their lime mojitos. The margaritas came in large glasses with little bubbles in the glass itself. The decorative bubbles made it look refreshing and it sure was refreshing. Second best margarita behind Acapulco. I ended up ordering and drinking two margaritas but one would have definitely been enough.
For the main dish, I ordered the combination meal of three items and one side for only $9.99. What I really like that Emiliano’s offers that I have not seen at other Mexican Restaurants is that they allow you to pick what items and sides go into the combination meal at a set price. The three items I chose were a shredded chicken quesadilla, a shredded chicken burrito, and a beef soft taco. For the side, I chose rice. The Mexican rice is definitely worth mentioning! I like when peas and corn are added to the rice, but this rice had an even better touch… little potato chunks. I really enjoyed the mix. It just went together very well. I ordered a lot of food, but I wanted to take the chicken burrito home for lunch leftovers the next day.
We should definitely start off with the taco. The soft shell flour taco was presented on a metal taco holder. I like how the shell was prepared. Toasty around the rim of the shell with some salt and butter. The ground beef was a little dry (used some salsa from the chips to balance it out) and noticeably salty in combination with the shell but not enough for me to stop eating and put the taco down. There could have been a little more cheese (looked like cheddar cheese) and lettuce added on top.
Next I cut the quesadilla in fourths and took a bite. Toasted evenly, and each bite had shredded chicken, cheese, and some flakey crunch. They did not hold back on the cheese here! The chicken was a little dry in both the quesadilla and the burrito, but the burrito’s sauce, which was a rich like enchilada sauces I have had elsewhere, helped give it a little more moisture. The burrito also had a very thin layer of cheese on top of a tortilla and was not as doughy as the burritos I have had in the past. It was just a little too hard.
Sitting outside turned out to be somewhat enjoyable because of the comfortable weather and entertainment from watching what happens on East Carson Street, but I did go home with a bug bite on left arm and ankle and a gnat fell onto ice cube in my drink. Was able to successfully remove the gnat so I could finish my margarita in peace. Maybe next time we will sit inside by their large and colorful bar.
Overall I do wish they had something special for National Taco Day. Next year I will have to do some research on places that have specials specifically for National Taco Day. Or maybe ill start a tradition of inviting friends over for tacos and tequila every October 4th!