A true taqueria-style Mexican joint should offer a few staples, and none of them should be giant bowl-like glasses of blue margaritas. They should include homemade cinnamon-rice beverage horchata and fresh-fried tortilla chips. And, of course, inexpensive cuts of marinated meat, stewed for hours, then shoved in smallish corn tortillas to be consumed in seconds.
This is what taquerias are like in Mexico, and this is how Edgar’s Best Tacos owner Edgar Alvarez runs his establishment; he recently opened a new brick-and-mortar location in the Strip District.
“When I decided to get into the restaurant business, I wanted to do it just like in Mexico City,” says Alvarez, who had been operating a popular taco stand five blocks down Penn Avenue at 21st Street. Alvarez says the move was necessary because a bigger kitchen was needed to accommodate the growth of his business, which also includes a food truck.
And that growth has been driven by customers seeking the true flavors of south-of-the-border fare. He cites the popularity of dishes like barbacoa, marinated lamb and lengua (stewed beef tongue), which illustrate how Pittsburghers’ tastes are evolving. (In fact, Alvarez says he used to only buy one beef tongue, which he says is “better than filet mignon,” per week, but now must purchase three to keep up with demand.)
The new spot also entices customers with bags of dried and fresh chilies, handmade empanadas and giant jugs of aguas frescas, or fresh-made beverages.
Alvarez is hoping to add another food truck to his fleet soon and continue to spread the flavors of his native land and create as many new authentic-taco fans as he can. “Pittsburgh is growing so fast, I am seeing a lot of new faces every day.”