Smoke Barbecue Taqueria re-opens in its new Lawrenceville location | On The Side | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Smoke Barbecue Taqueria re-opens in its new Lawrenceville location

More chairs, more tacos and new machine that cranks out fresh tortillas

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When Smoke Barbecue Taqueria co-owners Nelda Carranco and Jeff Petruso re-opened the restaurant in their new Lawrenceville location, they did so without fanfare. No sign out front. No big announcement on Facebook. No functional doorknob.

As soon as they got clearance from the health department, explains Petruso, "We just opened immediately [and] told a couple of our friends." But now, after a roughly 10-month hiatus, the taco joint is open to the general public.

Video by Alex Zimmerman and Ashley Murray

Visitors won't immediately notice a significantly modified menu: Centerpieces such as "chickenapple" and chorizo tacos are still around. So is the mac-and-cheese with corn-tortilla crumbs.

But in the coming weeks, Petruso says, expect some changes, such as Sunday brunch (including a chicken-and-waffle taco and brisket hash); more vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options; smoked onion soup; and a new set of rotating taco options.

Petruso is hoping service will improve, too. The former Homestead location's tiny kitchen was often swamped serving just 25 seats.

The new spot can serve 70, but other updates are most important: The kitchen's size has quadrupled; the smoker is 10 times as big; the staff has almost doubled; and there is a 700-pound machine that can cook 750 fresh flour tortillas per hour.

The couple is still training staff and ironing out some kinks, but soon, says Petruso, "we'll be up and running at full speed."

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