Restaurant Review-Round Corner Cantina (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
I will always be thankful to the chocolate store Sinful Sweets for helping me to see how many great and unique places there are to eat in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Although our dining out in the city usually consists of the downtown and the Squirrel Hill and Shadyside neighborhoods (my former stomping grounds in college), I’m happy to have now added another area to the mix.
Round Corner Cantina is no frills nitty gritty meets comfort food Mexican. As Lawrenceville is one of Pittsburgh’s oldest neighborhoods, it is home to many historic row houses including the Round Corner Cantina (it is right on the corner in case you couldn’t garner that from its name). Homes like these were incredibly small and in some instances, extremely narrow. Upon stepping in you are immediately in the bar area which features a couple of tables in addition to seating at the bar. However, if you just take a few steps further you are then in a rather dark room that features about half a dozen high tables with stools. In nice weather there is seating outside on the patio but all tables are first come, first served. We didn’t initially know about the patio but would have opted for indoor seating anyway as it was incredibly humid the night we dined there. You must be 21 and older to eat/drink at Round Corner Cantina which I liked a lot. I love children but having a meal out without any children around was just a nice treat.
The room we ate in was graced with papel picado, which literally means perforated paper. It’s a type of folk art most commonly found in Mexico although other Spanish speaking countries in Latin America also practice it (I featured it at my wedding reception which you can see here). It definitely added a neat allure, although I’m not sure how many people necessarily know what it is. There was also a TV on featuring a Mexican show/movie whose plot line seemed crazy to put it mildly (lucadores or wrestlers who were actually police detectives solving crime). D’s attention was raptly held.
The drink list is quite extensive featuring everything from Mexican beers to margaritas to sangria (which you can get by the pitcher) and cocktails. I opted for the San Juan Star-Oronoco rum, guava, strawberry, pineapple and soda ($6). This was the only part our experience that I didn’t like. The taste was just not appealing. D went with Dos Equis Lager which they had on draft for $4.
As one cannot eat at a Mexican place without chips and salsa we ordered a basket of the salsa roja and chips ($3.50). Although the chips were average (I like when you know that they’ve just been made as they’re piping hot), the salsa was really good. It definitely tasted cilantro heavy which I just love.
Other more unique starters included cacahuates (chile-rubbed peanuts) and esquites (street-style corn, fresh cheese, cream, and smoked serrano).
I’ve really grown to embrace the street style tacos so I went with the tacos de carnitas for my entree (two for $7.50). They featured slow-roasted pork, cucumber, onion, radish, and cilantro. I only ate one as there was a lot of other food on the table but I had the one I saved for lunch the next day and it was equally delicious. Although I don’t think I could eat a radish alone and plain, in a taco it was a nice complement.
To accompany the tacos I ordered arroz mexicano ($3.50) which, while it was different from any arroz mexicano I’ve had before, was still good. It featured an almost cheesy taste to it.
D went with the quesadilla de rajas de papas (chihuahua cheese, poblano pepper, potato, and corn) for $8. His portion was huge and he had a ton of take home with him.
He had ordered the refried beans ($4.50) as a side but it comes with chips so I suppose it’s meant more as a starter. The beans were pinto and were some of the best refried beans I’ve had in a long time.
Eating at Round Corner Cantina was definitely a spur the moment decision but one that turned out fabulous. I look forward to returning as the food was homecooked deliciousness!