As I’ve mentioned before, Pittsburgh’s Latin-influenced food scene is lacking so when I first heard about Tako, a taqueria that would be serving Mexican street food, I was incredibly excited. Unfortunately, as is often the case here, it being a new spot paired with it being the third eatery from the creative culinary minds of Meat and Potatoes and Butcher and the Rye, reservations are hard to come by. I tried numerous times to make a reservation over a week in advance and found that it still wasn’t good enough (and this even on weeknights in the dead of winter!). So when I bought tickets for a concert more than a month away, the next thing I did was make reservations at Tako and let me just say it was worth the wait.
The proper sit-down dining space at Tako is on the smaller side so now I can understand why reservations sell out. In the nice weather there is sidewalk seating but I’m not the biggest fan since Sixth Street, where Tako is located, is quite busy and it doesn’t have the widest sidewalk, either.
The décor is 100% decidedly funky and eclectic. If you’re wondering about the meaning of the restaurant’s name, well, tako means octopus in Japanese and this is a motif that’s literally everywhere. Octopus paired with Mexican Calaveras (Day of the Dead-style skeletons) paired with other Mexican cultural influences. Crazy, but you know what? It works.
I’m trying to branch more with my cocktail trying so I ordered the Oaxaca Old Fashioned ($10). Besides featuring the name of the number one Mexican city I most want to visit, it just sounded intriguing. It consists of corralejo reposado tequila, mescal, agave, and angostura. The first couple of sips were quite “smoky” (as the waiter warned me they would be), but eventually I really grew to enjoy it.
For starters, we decided to order two selections. The first was the Chips & Salsa ($7) because truly, you can’t have tacos without this delectable duo. There are three salsas-salsa de arbol, roasted tomatillo (a green salsa), and tomato poblano. These range from quite spicy to mild.
We also ordered the Street Corn ($6) which comes topped with sriracha mayo, chili, lime, and cotija cheese. Of the two starters, I think I liked the street corn more but chips and salsa are a staple so they’re always good too.
While the tacos are somewhat on the pricier side, keep in mind that there are two per order. When I saw that there was a Duck Confit ($14) option, my mind was easily made up. I don’t get to eat duck nearly enough so this was the right choice. The duck is topped with hoisin sauce, scallions, cucumbers, picked peppers, mint, and cilantro. The peppers were quite hot and I had to remove them because they were literally igniting my mouth. So it was definitely more of a fiery duck confit.
D ordered two taco options. The Chorizo ($12) comes topped with carmelized onions, roasted poblano, romesco, fried egg, queso fresco, cilantro, and arbol hot sauce. He liked it a lot but did say that the fried egg made eating it quite messy.
He also went with one of the evening’s specials –the Peking duck tacos. I’ve long since forgotten all of the elaborate cooking methods necessary to make it, but essentially there is a lot of “duck smoking” to achieve that incredible taste. These actually came out like fajitas as in you, the diner, assemble them. He was given a variety of toppings to adorn them.
As at most “hip” places today, the noise level at Tako was high, making intimate conversation not really possible, but service was excellent and the food quite amazing. I only hope that more restaurants like Tako that transcend traditional culinary norms continue to pop up in Pittsburgh.
214 6th Street | Pittsburgh, PA. | 15222