UPDATE: This nice neighborhood pub has closed. This space is empty and for sale.
Last Tuesday night right before the Penguins versus Senators game during game 6 the Eastern Conference Finals, a group of us decided we should fuel up on tacos to get us ready for the big game. Now I usually go with the group to Jamison’s on West Liberty in Dormont for FREE wings with beer every Tuesday, but once in awhile we will switch it up for tacos. It is unfortunate this wing special falls on #TacoTuesdays, but I make up for it by eating tacos on any other day of the week.
I took the South Hills group consisting of Brookline, Dormont and Mount Lebanon residents to Pints on Penn at 3523 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville. I have been to Pints on Penn one other time before for drinks and appetizers, but I never thought to go to there for tacos. I learned about their taco special through social media, as they liked to tag us on Instagram during their specials. Every Tuesday they have an all you can eat beef, chicken, and veggie tacos special for 10 dollars along with $2 tecates, $4 Los Locos, and $6 margaritas. ALSO Pints on Penn has a happy hour 5-7pm Monday thru Friday with half off drafts and half off appetizers. This is very enticing since they have a draft list filled with fantastic micros and craft beers. I was unfortunately not feeling well so I could not take part in the half off draft special with my friends, but I was just hoping that the tacos would cure my viral infection.
The 1880’s remodeled saloon had ample seating downstairs, upstairs, and on the deck. During my last visit, Nate and I sat on the deck section which I remember enjoying because it overlooked a part of a beautiful church. For this visit, we sat in the second level seating area where this time I noticed creative and colorful artwork on the wall for sale. It reminded me of an Art All Night exhibit.
There were three different tacos for all you can eat on the menu:
- Beef brisket topped with fried potato strings and smoked gouda presented on a soft shell flour tortilla
- Spicy shredded chicken layered with shredded carrots, chopped celery, cheddar cheese and a spicy ranch sauce all placed in a hard shell
- Fried falafel topped with a vegan buffalo sauce and sprinkled with lettuce and pico placed in a hard shell
To start, we all ordered one of each taco. With each initial order we got a basket of chips and salsa. The chips were salted perfectly and were not too oily or greasy. The pico had chopped peppers, tomatoes, onion, and a type of fruit (we all believe it was either mango or papaya based on yellow/orange color and chunky texture). The pico was full of flavor with a light spice from the peppers and sweetness from the fruit.
When the tacos arrived at the table, I was thoroughly impressed by the presentation and color of the plate. Each taco looked unique and put together with care. I did not expect this for all you can eat tacos!
My first taco I tried was the falafel taco. I immediately noticed that the shell was different. It was not the typical hard corn shell, but had a nacho type shell, sandy in color, less likely to break in small pieces than a crunchy corn shell. Now the focus of the taco was definitely the falafel itself. It was light and looked like stuffing with the different seasonings and spices mixed in. There was some tang to the taco coming from the combination of the vegan buffalo sauce and pico. I noticed that the pico used was very similar to the pico served with the chips and could be easily be one in the same. This was definitely my favorite falafel taco. I was craving another falafel taco after that first one for sure.
The chicken taco was next. The chicken was a little dry but the spicy ranch crema filled in the dryness and complimented the celery and carrots. The taco accumulated in spice after awhile but very tolerable for me. Like the falafel taco, this taco was light and I was very pleased with the combinations here. It is always great to get my veggies in for the day by way of taco.
Last but not least, I tried the beef brisket. I first thought that the fried shoe strings on top were onions but I learned they were potatoes. The beef brisket and smoked gouda cheese were super rich but the fried potato strings and thick creamy sauce mellowed the taco out perfectly. The only thing I would do differently would be to toast the soft flour shell a little bit more to add just a hit more crunch. If the shell would be toasted, it would be the closest taco to a shredded beef quesadilla.
Almost all of us ordered another round of the 3 different tacos. I had a total of four tacos and ended up taking two to go. So I ended up with 6 tacos for only $10!
Other than a toasted flour shell, I would not change anything else about these tacos. I was thoroughly impressed and I did not expect such high quality of tacos for an all you can eat special. Out of the four of us who had tacos, Chris and Joe liked the beef brisket the best. Chris commented “I could eat 3 more briskets.” Nate and I liked the falafel the most. It was my favorite falafel I have had so far, even over Sun Dawg Cafe’s falafel!
With great service, half off drafts (friends took advantage of that), tacos that exceeded my expectations and head rocking classic rock favorites playing in the background, I definitely think tacos helped fix my illness. The only thing that could have made the night better was a Penguins win that night!
Price: all you can eat tacos for $10 including a basket of chips and salsa