Food made a perfunctory appearance in the CNN show that aired Sunday; what should have been included instead?
The description was as apt as it was succinct: “This place is like a food truck without the wheels.”
That was a friend’s take on Chevere (translation: “cool”), the spartan lunch counter space with salsa music blaring and the arepas frying. Open since June, the folks behind nearby Bea Taco Town serve up fresh South American street food, as advertised on the modest marquee outside.
For the uninitiated, arepas are kind of like a fried, unleavened cornmeal patty that’s folded and stuffed with an almost limitless combination of proteins, vegetables, starches and sauces. None are more than $4.50, and two of them will do the trick even for a voracious eater like the author, whose picks are the Pabellon — a perfect savory blend of shredded flank beef, black beans, fried sweet plantains and queso fresco or the Pernil with roasted pork, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole.
Tacos and empanadas are also on the menu and sides like rice and beans ($2 to $4.25). Everything is made in-house, including their sauces, of which their hot sauce is bottle worthy.
Brace yourself for the most Pittsburgh description of a location, ever: Chevere is on the ground level of the old Kaufmann’s parking garage in the space that used to be a Primanti Brothers. Incidentally, that’s also the first place this author ever tried a P. Bros — kielbasa and cheese, to be exact — while working a terrible college summer job 20 years ago sorting checks in Mellon Bank’s operations center.
Primanti’s, of course, has long since gone from regional oddity to regional empire and abandoned this space years ago. That it’s given way to this terrific little greasy spoon where the food is cheap, fast and pretty delicious is a nice addition to a Golden Triangle where rising rents are increasingly squeezing out mom-and-pop operations and the lunchtime landscape is increasingly dominated by high-end restaurants or fast-casual chains.
Chevere: 412 Cherry Way, Downtown; 412-281-0610.
Dan Gigler: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @gigs412