A few weeks ago, my family and I celebrated my grandparents 75th wedding anniversary. During the dinner, I told my family about the taco blog idea, and my cousin immediately told me that I had to try La Palapa on 1925 East Carson Street in the Southside. He told me that this is his favorite taco spot in the ‘burgh. I am SO glad I listened because I do believe I found one of my favorite ground beef tacos in the Pittsburgh area.
Last Tuesday was my random week day off from work so I thought it would be the perfect time to try La Palapa, and take an afternoon bike ride in the city. La Palapa is in a great location in the Southside (however, they’re closed Mondays). They’re right across from the Pittsburgh Steak Company and Hello Bistro on 19th street. If you can’t make it to the Southside, they also have a food truck located downtown near Penn and 7th open Tuesday through Friday for lunch hours.
Since I was biking, I loved that there was a bike rack right outside, and I was able to lock up there. When I walked into the small restaurant, I noticed that it was nicely decorated just like El Burro with many paintings and animal sculptures on the walls and cute little cacti on the tables. I sat down in the corner of the restaurant near the window so I could people watch the Southside streets.
I took a brief look at the drink menu which included a large variety of choices including Mexican Soda, Agua Fresca (basically a light, sugary non-alcoholic drink), coffee, tea, non alcohol margarita mix pitcher, and Mexican hot chocolate. La Palapa is also BYOB, but there is a $3 corkage fee if you bring your own. I stuck with water because of my upcoming bike ride.
As far the food menu goes, they have soups, salads, appetizers, favorites, sides, and many specialty items. They had a special of the day on Tuesday which was two tacos with 2 sides and pineapple agua fresca all for $12.95. I was definitely in the mood for a taco, but was also craving a quesadilla so I went to the back of the menu for a la carte items. There were a TON of taco choices such as: chicken, chorizo and potatoes, ground beef, barbacoa, rajas and potatoes, mushrooms, chipotle pulled pork, and bistec and onions. I chose the shredded chicken quesadilla and the ground beef taco.
My meal came out fast and looked very appetizing with the plating displaying the colors of the ingredients nicely. I don’t even know where to begin with this meal taste wise though! The ground beef (locally sourced from Clarion Farms) may be why this is my favorite ground beef taco now in the ‘Burgh. With each bite, I could taste the mouthwatering ground beef with its juices absorbed in the rice. The juicy ground beef and rice were wrapped with a flaky, double layer white corn tortilla. And I can’t forget the sour cream! The sour cream had a milk like consistency that just filled into each gap between the meat and the rice, and the freshly sliced cheese and light pico de gallo were gently placed on top. I absolutely loved it!
Although the quesadilla was a lot smaller than I expected, it was cooked to perfection and offered just the right amount of variety to the meal. The quesadilla came with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, lettuce and shredded carrots on the side which I used with the fallen ingredients from the taco to make a great side salad. The shredded chicken was of high quality, but I feel as though some sliced onions and green peppers mixed in could offer a little more flavor. The cheese inside the quesadilla was thick, slightly melted, and provided a strong, intense taste that complimented the crunchy, toasted flour tortilla shell. Next time I come to La Palapa I will definitely get the taco and quesadilla combo again, because of the variety of toppings and maybe order one more taco or an additional side or dessert (they have a dessert menu). I think I could have probably used one more menu item to complete the meal.
Now, this is a small detail, but one I still really loved…the check came with a mint! Is it just me, or do you not see that as much anymore?
At the end of the day, I texted my cousin and told him how right he was with La Palapa. He asked me if I tried the lengua. My cousin said its kind of a delicacy in Mexico. He tried it and said it was okay, but a lot of people like it and the said that it is super tender. I had to look up what lengua is, and it’s understandable why some people shy away from it! Lengua is beef tongue! He told me he would make a few calls and maybe he could hook me up with a little sample of it next time I’m in the Southside. 🙂
Price: $3.50 per taco – must try the ground beef. It is phenomenal!