Two Tuesdays ago took an unexpected turn after I was done training at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield. After finishing the in class and online new hire courses, I was planning to get a late taco lunch in Lawrenceville, the neighborhood next door. Since I was in the area during the day I figured it would be a great time to try out Smoke. I have heard wonderful things about their meats, and I didn’t want to attempt to go during crazy busy dinner hours so I got my taco notebook out the night before in hopes of trying out the tacos at Smoke the next day. However! When I arrived at Smoke I was told that they do not have tacos on Tuesday. TUESDAY is the ONLY day of the week that they DO NOT HAVE TACOS. Although I was disappointed and slightly irritated by the whole “anti taco Tuesday movement” they told me they are pursuing for the sake of differentiation (they even call themselves a taqueria!!), I politely left and told them I will come back a different day.
Going Over the Bar to Ease the Taco Troubles
My mind was set on tacos so I pulled out my phone to go over my list of taco places I still need to try. After a quick look I chose a familiar and frequently visited spot from when I lived in the Southside, Over the Bar (OTB) Bicycle Cafe. Before heading there though, I did call ahead to ensure they had tacos. As soon as the waiter told me that the special this week was “sweet chili soy glazed chicken something something crispy wontons” over the phone, I whipped out of my parallel parking space in Lawrenceville like I was on an important mission to get to 2518 East Carson Street. (OTB has a second location at the North Park Boathouse at 10301 Pearce Mill Road, Allison Park, PA).
When I arrived I was happy to see tacos on the paper menu insert that contains their daily specials. OTB’s specialty tacos change every Tuesday and are influenced by the kitchen staff. On the same menu, there are drink specials as well that are influenced by the bartender, Kate (who I met before through a mutual friend).
Weekly Taco Tuesday Specials
This particular week’s taco specials included Firecracker Chicken-sweet chili soy glazed chicken with avocado, tomatoes, greens and crispy wontons (the one I heard over the phone) and the Apple Spice Seitan tacos consisting of seitan, apple cider glaze, green apple, red peppers, red onion and greens. According to Kate, there is always a vegetarian option and the chicken or meat in the other taco could always be substituted with something else. The order comes in groups of three and only on soft flour tortilla shells. I chose the chicken option even thought both caught my eye. On the regular daily menu, OTB does have popcorn shrimp tacos served with a side of black bean corn salsa if you’re craving tacos outside of Tuesdays.
While I was waiting for the tacos I ordered one of the drinks off the specialty menu. I tried the honey grapefruit margarita made from sauza signature blue tequila, triple sec, lime, honey simple syrup and grapefruit. I thought the margarita was perfect for the rainy, yet humid day. The sweetness of the honey toned down the sourness from the grapefruit.
The Tacos Themselves
After sipping on my marg and talking to Kate about last year’s Taco Festival, my tacos were flying in hot to the bar. My first bite was sweet as expected. The grilled chicken was fully marinated in the sweet chili soy sauce. In my second bite I could taste the fresh, yet not watery, tomatoes and the perfectly ripe avocado. The tacos had plenty of greens as well. It was like eating a grilled chicken salad folded up and enclosed in a flour shell. My absolute favorite part of the taco was the crispy wontons. They were flaky and better than any wontons I have ever had in a restaurant, and did a good job adding some crunch and texture to the tacos. The tacos were also heavily dressed in the soy sauce marinade which leaked out of the back of the taco creating a sticky mess. I think it was worth it though. Overall the taste reminded me a lot of an oriental chicken salad you can find at many restaurants, definitely influenced by the soy sauce marinade and fresh greens.
Three tacos were the perfect amount for lunch.
Healthy food, exceptional drinks, great service, and the best background music (song from the band the XX and other alternative rock/indie pop bands I love were playing as I ate my tacos.)
Price: 3 tacos for only $6.99 on Tuesdays!