International spots offer alternatives to turkey.
The wry, droll and pale comedian Jim Gaffigan does a bit where he likens activities on a vacation as nothing more than time spent between leisurely meals: “Really that’s all a vacation is — us eating in a place we’ve never been. ‘Why don’t we eat something and then we’ll go and get something to eat? Then we’ll see that thing we’re supposed to see … then we’ll go eat something.’ ”
However, there are those other times when you need something to eat right now and are in the throes of a DEFCON-5 “hangry” tantrum that a skilled criminal attorney should be able to use as a viable defense for anything up to and including … well, at least road rage. You need food. You need it immediately. You’d prefer it to be good. And inexpensive is a bonus.
That seems to be the working ethos at the small and colorful Doce Taqueria, which opened this spring on the South Side. Five no-frills choices of tacos, plus a daily special, all for $3, in your hand in about 90 seconds and made with fresh ingredients. You’re in, you’re out, hello, goodbye, and you’ve managed to not tell someone off because of your pangs.
The shop is a collaboration of brothers Alex and Andy Balint. The latter operates the slightly bro-tastic nightclub Twelve next door; “Doce” means “twelve” in Spanish and is operated by Chef Alex, who came up cooking in the family business — their father, Andy, owns The Crying Onion catering (based on the North Side), and their grandfather ran a neighborhood market.
Among the tacos, which are served on choice of soft flour or crispy corn tortillas: the carnitas is a smoked pulled pork with Mexican slaw and farmer’s cheese, pico de gallo, cilantro and avocado; the marinated chicken option has the same toppings plus the addition of a spicy cream made with Cholula hot sauce; and the spicy beef adds sauteed peppers, onion and jalapeno.
For the nostalgic, the Americano is billed as being “just like your Madre made them” with ground beef, shredded cheddar and lettuce, tomato and sour cream — the original Taco Tuesday menu. Vegan and vegetarian options vary but have included crispy potatoes and black beans. Past taco del dias have included a chicken cheese jalapeno, chipotle BBQ chicken and smoked lamb.
Tacos have been the talk’o the town the past few months, between the much-anticipated opening of Tako, Downtown, the long-awaited re-opening of Smoke BBQ Taqueria in Lawrenceville, and the PGH Taco Truck maestro James Rich taking over the kitchen at Gus’s in the same neighborhood. Though more modest in scale and scope, add Doce to the list for a quick, quality offering in the Pittsburgh taco landscape.
Doce Taqueria is at 1220 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-238-8518; facebook.com/docetaqueriaPGH.
Dan Gigler: firstname.lastname@example.org; @gigs412.