Munch goes to Emiliano's
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It's hard to imagine that a Mexican restaurant with a giant colorful red and green neon sign, located on a prime corner of a major commercial district in one of the city's most heavily traveled corridors, would go unnoticed by Munch for nearly eight months -- despite Munch frequenting the immediate area -- but there are two important pieces of information that you need to be aware of:
Said restaurant, Emiliano's, opened on East Carson Street in the SouthSide Works in April, easily hidden behind a massive street-widening project festooned with orange snow-fence, traffic barrels, Jersey barriers and blinking lights, and ...
Regular readers of this space will know that Munch's brain cells have fought gallantly with -- and routinely lost to -- any number of fine spirits this side of Mad Dog 20/20. Point being that Munch isn't always with it.
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So, despite going to the movies at SouthSide Works and/or eating and drinking nearby once or twice a month, El glotón con la cabeza marrón bolsa de papel (gracias Google language tools!) remained oblivious to the new cantina in the 'hood until just recently.
The completion of the project is an early Christmas gift to shoppers (more parking, less traffic) and merchants (more parking, less traffic) and to Munch (more eating, more drinking) now that Emiliano's has emerged from behind PennDOT's labors.
Munch and Marketing Guru Gal Pal of Munch (M2GPOM) found the SouthSide Works location, a sister establishment to the original Emiliano's in the North Hills, to be a warm, colorful and welcoming spot, especially on a rather drab late-autumn night.
The menu is massive. A dozen dips, salsas and quesadillas comprise the appetizers ($1.99-$8.99). Entrees begin with two dozen shrimp, steak, chicken and vegetarian dishes ($7.99-market price), with offerings such as Camarones a la Mexicana (grilled shrimp in chipotle pepper sauce); Carne Asada (seasoned steak) or Choripollo (marinated chicken breast with chorizo and cheese sauce) and continue with another dozen specialty fajitas, enchiladas and burritos ($9.99-$12.99) ... and you still aren't done.
A dozen more house specialties round out the fare ($8.99-$13.99). M2GPOM boasts expert status on Chimichangas after extensive nationwide tasting of the highly caloric, fried tortilla and chicken dish. She endorsed Emiliano's Chimichanga ($9.99) as the best she's had in Pittsburgh, owing to the house cheese sauce spread atop it.
Munch enjoyed, but wasn't quite as enthusiastic about the Carnitas ($11.99) -- marinated pork covered in a spicy red sauce. While the seasonings were quite good, the meat was a little dry.
A nice array of tequilas, Mexican beers and Margaritas are available behind the bar, but as it was a school night, Munch and M2GPOM opted for dessert -- splitting the delicious cinnamony fried ice cream ($4.99) -- instead of some hooch (mark it; it might never happen again).
If anything, the food was done too fast -- literally within about six minutes of ordering, two minutes for the dessert -- not enough time to really converse or to watch New Orleans thrash New England on "Monday Night Football" on the bar's flat screens, an event that brought delight to the American clientele and majority Mexican staff. Clearly, hating the Patriots is a universal, multicultural endeavor.
First Published December 3, 2009 12:00 am