Special Review of The Ravenous Pig

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My AMAZING lunch from The Ravenous Pig: Shrimp & Grits!

*NOTE*: Neither The Ravenous Pig nor its owners asked me to write this blog post. I am just a humble foodie and yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures. Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s; edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Before my Mom and I ventured to Winter Park, Florida (near Orlando, Florida) in April, I did extensive research on its “foodie scene”. The Ravenous Pig popped up on several Orlando and Winter Park best restaurant lists. The Ravenous Pig is a James Beard nominated Gastropub, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and local purveyors. “The Pig” also has a hefty craft beer and cocktail list (including craft beer selections from its sister restaurant, Cask & Larder).

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Here’s a close up of my Shrimp & Grits lunch, which included: cape canaveral shrimp, Anson Mills grits, green tomato chutney and chorizo oil.

This was only my second grit experience, but these were THE best grits I’ve EVER had! Of course, the shrimp was on-point as well. I also really loved the tomato chutney!

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My Godmother’s lunch was The Tacos: crispy rock shrimp, cilantro, avocado, pickled jalapeño, and cabbage slaw.

I was lucky enough to try a bite of one of these tacos- oh baby, oh baby! These might’ve just been the best shrimp tacos I have ever tasted! 😀

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Another glam shot of my Godmother’s lunch!

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Mom’s lunch- Pub Burger: Aspen Ridge Natural Angus Beef, caramelized onion, buttermilk blue cheese and truffle fries.

I also tried a bite of the burger- very good, but I particularly LOVED the truffle fries. What can I say- I guess I have a taste for decadence. 😉

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Here’s a close up of Mom’s delightful pub burger!

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The dessert of champions- Trio: grand marina ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate cherry sherbet. The perfect way to end this lunch!

If you are visiting either Orlando or Winter Park, I highly recommend checking out The Ravenous Pig! Special shout-out to our funny waiter Stephen!

Next post: brunch at B52 in Lawrenceville!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

The Ravenous Pig’s website

The Ravenous Pig’s Facebook page

The Ravenous Pig’s Instagram page

 

 

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#LauraLovesNYC Post #3: Lunch at Le Bernardin

Mesclun Salad from Le Bernardin
Mom’s first course: Mesclun Salad! Salad of the Day’s Market Herbs and Vegetables with Balsamic-Shalott Dressing

*NOTE*: Neither Le Bernardin nor Eric Ripert asked me to write this post; I am just a Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, who wanted to share this fabulous lunch that I had in New York City! Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Day two of the New York City trip! Once we finished touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my Mom and I went to lunch at Le Bernardin, located in the West Side of New York City.

Why was I interested in dining at Le Bernardin? Well, the restaurant is co-owned by Anthony Bourdain‘s best friend, Executive Chef Eric Ripert. I’ll never forget when we watched one of the first No Reservations: New York City episodes- Bourdain was meeting up with a bunch of his chef friends from dinner at Prune and The Spotted Pig. He briefly introduced each chef, and when it was time to introduce Ripert, my Mom was like: “Wait- who is THAT? Rewind!” lol. X)

Needless to say, my Mom and I were intrigued by Eric from very early on in No Reservations. Thanks to Bourdain featuring him on No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, I had the opportunity to get glimpses into the personality of Bourdain’s best friend.

Then again, Ripert does not need Bourdain’s help; he is very accomplished in his own right. Thanks to Eric, Le Bernardin has some Michelin stars, and is constantly named one of the top 50 best restaurants in the ENTIRE world!

My Mom and I were lucky enough to attend Bourdain & Ripert’s “Good vs. Evil” tour back in 2013, when it stopped in Pittsburgh. Needless to say, we both became ever bigger fans of Eric, as he gracefully took Tony’s mock interrogation on stage.

Mom REALLY wanted to go to Le Bernardin. I also wanted to go, but hesitated at first, because we had already made reservations for Les Halles Park Avenue, and I knew that would be an expensive meal. Lucky for my Mom, she didn’t’ have to “twist my arm” (metaphorically speaking) too far to convince me to make a reservation at Le Bernardin.

When we arrived, I was totally blown away by the elegance of the restaurant, and the meticulous detail (from the design, to the attentiveness of the wait staff, to the food)! Once the host sat us at our table, our waiter (who I could definitely tell was from France) greeted us and inquired about what beverage we would like served at lunch.

Knowing this would be a pricey (but memorable) lunch, my Mom and I both stuck with water. Pictured above is my Mom’s first course. I must say, I took one bite of the salad- I’ve NEVER tasted better salad in my entire LIFE! IT was such a simple salad, but yet so incredibly good!

Artichoke Dish from Le Bernardin
My First Course: warm artichoke panache, with vegetable risotto and truffle emulsion! 😀

How many people can say they’ve had a three course lunch? Pretty fancy, right? My second course was also delectable! The only other risotto that I’ve had that comes close to being as good as Le Bernardin’s was the former Le Pommier restaurant in Pittsburgh.

Of course, I am a HUGE artichoke fan; thus, this dish pleased me immediately. It might be hard to see in this photo, but there was a shaving of black truffle on top of the risotto. For those of you who do not know: black truffle is VERY expensive.

Lobster from Le Bernardin
Mom’s main course: Pan Roasted Lobster, with chestnut mousseline, and a Celeriac “Cannelloni”.

As Eric says: “the fish is the star”, and my Mom definitely felt that this lobster dish was the star of her lunch! I tried a bite as well, and of course, it was pretty incredible.

Crispy Duck Le Bernardin
My main course: Crispy Duck with fennel and sour cherries, all swimming in a sherry sauce! 😀

The minute I took at the menu, I knew I wanted the Crispy Duck dish! Although, above this dish, it said “Upon Request” (meaning, if you asked for it, and they had it, they would make it for you). Well, I asked, and they had it!

This was THE best duck dish I’ve EVER had! Between the savory-ness of the fennel, the tartness of the sour cherries, and the smooth texture of the medium rare duck, I was definitely in foodie heaven! This dish was almost too handsome to eat, but I managed. 😉

Flourless Cake Le Bernardin
Mom’s course #3: Hazelnut Praline! Flourless Hazelnut cake, with Gianjuda mousse, orange curd and praline ice cream

I didn’t get a chance to sample my Mom’s dessert, but from what I can remember, she loved this dessert (who wouldn’t?)!

Chocolate Mousse from Le Bernardin
My Course #3: Dark Milk Chocolate! Milk Chocolate Mousse. dark caramel, candied peanuts and warm malted caramel

First of all: mousse in ball form? I was very impressed by this original take on a chocolate mousse dish! I loved dunking each bite of chocolate mousse into the caramel sauce, followed by sampling the crunchy candied peanuts. Heaven on a plate!

Spice Chocolate Ice Cream Le Bernardin
Spice Chocolate House-made Ice cream!

I thought things couldn’t get any better- man was I wrong! This spiced chocolate ice cream BLEW the other dessert out of the park! This was the most decadent, and tasty ice cream dish I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming!

I must say, this lunch left me breathless. Unless I eat at some spectacular restaurant in Europe someday, I try believe that this is the best meal I’ve had in my entire life, and that it’s won’t get any better (at least in America) than Le Bernardin.

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Le Bernardin’s website

Le Bernardin’s Facebook page

Le Bernardin’s Twitter page

Eric Ripert’s Twitter page

Le Bernardin’s Instagram page

Eric Ripert’s Instagram page

Yoga & Lunch in Lawrenceville

Meditation Statue
I love this statue, that sits quietly in meditation, at the back of the studio.
*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga, Laura Gorham, nor the owners & staff of Franktuary. I’m just a Pittsburgh Yogini & Foodie, who enjoys sharing her cultural adventures! Pictures captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with both Instagram, and Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4.

Fourth of July morning, I ventured over to Lawrenceville (one of my FAVORITE parts of Pittsburgh) with my Mom for an Ashtanga Basics class at The Shala (a new yoga studio, dedicated to the practice and teaching of Ashtanga Yoga, a classical form of yoga) and lunch at Franktuary!

The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga
Here is The Shala’s BEAUTIFUL studio space!
The teacher (Lizandra) was absolutely FABULOUS! I arrived early before class (as I always do), and we conversed about yoga, Pittsburgh, and life in general.

Lizard did an EXCELLENT job teaching- from her meticulous cueing, to the hands-on-assists and modifications, I really did experience THE perfect Basic Ashtanga yoga class! The good news: I was both sweating AND smiling at the end of class!

Practice, and all is coming
This quotation, spoken by both Kino MacGregor’s and Tim Miller’s teacher (affectionately named “Guruji“) REALLY resonated with me!
Ganesh statue
(Buddhist God); he is recommended if you need “grounding”, which I so desperately needed!
Tim Miller, with student Laura Gorham
(Timji)! He was the first American EVER to be certified to teach Ashtanga!
The studio owner (Laura Gorham) is to the right of the legendary Ashtanga Yoga teacher, Tim Miller. In April, I attended an Intro to Ashtanga Yoga workshop with Laura at her studio. She is an INCREDIBLE teacher- Pittsburgh is so lucky to have her, and her studio!

Thanks to Laura, I learned half-lotus pose! I will never forget that, and always will be grateful. It’s thanks to Laura, and that workshop, that has started my love affair with Ashtanga Yoga. 😉

After yoga, I needed to re-fuel with lunch. Thus, I decided to head over to Franktuary, also in Lawrenceville. I was a HUGE fan of the original downtown location (in the back of the Trinity church. In the next few months, Franktuary will be returning to downtown Pittsburgh, and is planning on taking over the space at the former Fat Tommy’s, in Market Square!), but I had only visited the Lawrenceville Franktuary once, for brunch. Thus, I was long overdue for a visit! X)

Citrus Scrub & Soda Drink
Citrus Scrub & Soda from Franktuary, in Lawrenceville!
My beverage du joir: a Citrus Scrub & Soda drink! Even since I tried a Scrub & Soda drink at Cure, back in November, I have been HOOKED!  Any place that offers them, I order them! I must say, Franktuary came VERY close to being as good as Cure’s scrub & soda! This was INCREDIBLE! The drink was light & refreshing; perfect for the hot summer day!

Citrus Scrub & Soda Drink
“Yes, I think I would like that”, as Bourdain would say! 😉

Spring Greens Salad
Mom’s Main Course: a small Spring Field: salad! This was VERY tasty!
Poutine Quebec Style
My Mom and I both shared a plate of Poutine (Quebec style)! Franktuary was the first, and has been the only restaurant where I have tried Poutine. It’s always a highlight for me, and an essential at Franktuary!
 

Kale Salad with Falafel Balls
My main course- Kale Salad with root vegetables and two fried falafel balls! The Kale Salad was SCRUMPTIOUS- just what I needed after yoga. Also, the falafel was THE best falafel I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE! 😀
Whether you either live in Pittsburgh, or will be visiting soon, I HIGHLY recommend a yoga class at The Shala, and either brunch, lunch or dinner at Franktuary! Trust me on this! 😉

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art, and cultural events!

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga’s website

The Shala of Pittsburgh’s Facebook page

The Shala of Pittsburgh’s Twitter page

The Shala of Pittsburgh’s Instagram page

Franktuary’s website

Franktuary’s Facebook page

Franktuary’s Twitter page

Franktuary’s Instagram page

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Visits to Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

BBQ Shrimp Tacos from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar
BBQ Shrimp Tacos- one of my FAVORITE tacos from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

*DISCLAIMER*: I do no see monetary benefits from neither the owner of Sirena Taco Joint & Bar, nor the chefs, wait-staff or restaurant. I am just a humble Pittsburgh Foodie, who enjoys sharing her Pittsburgh adventure. Photos captured with an iPhone 5s; photos were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

If you haven’t read my first review of Sirena Taco Joint & Bar, please do: First Review. The first review contains one of my FAVORITE tacos from Sirena: the Pork Carnitas tacos! Plus, you will learn about the owner of Sirena (the former owner of Dozen, a LEGENDARY cupcake & bakeshop in Pittsburgh) and the Executive Chef (Former Executive Chef of Nine on Nine).

I visited Sirena Taco Joint & Bar for the third time in February 2015, with one of my college buddies. Since the weather was cold and snowy, we were one of the few customers in attendance, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the kindness of our waiter, the fun, vibrant atmosphere of the restaurant, and the wonderful food of the chefs!

Pictured above was my meal of the day: BBQ shrimp tacos; these were INCREDIBLE! I’m not usually one for fish tacos, but between the shrimp, BBQ sauce and the crunch fritos, I was in taco HEAVEN! My second favorite taco from Sirena Taco Joint!

Chocolate Lava Cake
Chocolate Lava Cake from Sirena Taco Joint- a chocoholic’s DREAM!

Of course, I HAD to get dessert! Thus, I chose the Chocolate Lava Cake, with a academia nut crumble, strawberries, whipped cream and Nutella ice cream! 😀

Nutella Ice Cream
Two scoops of Nutella ice cream! As Bourdain would say: “BEAUTIFUL”!

I was in dessert HEAVEN! The Lava cake honestly tasted like you were eating fudge, and the Nutella ice cream really DID taste like you were eating Nutella! Soooooooooooo good; after this dinner, I was “head over heels” for this dessert!

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar's Menu, Part One
Sirena recently changed the menu to individual taco orders. I love that idea!

The individual taco menu (plus starters, combos, sides and desserts), part one!

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar's Menu, Part Two
Sirena’s Menu, Part Two!
House Margarita
House Margarita from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar = YUM!

When I arrived for my third visit, I FINALLY decided to order a house margarita from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar! I must say, this was one of the best margaritas I’ve EVER had!

Chips and Salsa
Chips and Salsa from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

My friend and I decided to order chips and salsa as a starter. The chips were some of the best chips I’ve ever had (La Palapa still makes the best chips), and the salsa had a WONDERFUL heat to it!

Guacamole and Chips
For both the third and fourth visits, I ordered the guacamole & chips. It was okay during the third visit, but OUTSTANDING during the fourth!
Jerk Chicken & Roasted Lamb Chili Verde tacos
Third visit tacos: Jerk Chicken (left) and Roasted Lamb Chili Verde (right).

Third Visit tacos: Jerk Chicken (left) and Roasted Lamb Chili Verde (right). Even though the Jerk Chicken taco was good, the Roasted Lamb taco TOTALLY rocked my world, and is now one of my top three favorite tacos at Sirena Taco Joint! I could tell that the lamb was grilled and roasted very well. Plus, I LOVE chili Verde!

Jerk Chicken Taco
Close-up of the Jerk Chicken Taco, with rice & beans, from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar
Roasted Lamb Chili Verde Taco
“You rock my world, you know you did”! 😉
Tacos
Another angle of my third visit tacos from Sirena!
Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream
The Chocolate Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream was so good the first time, I had to order it again! 😉

I was luckily enough to have a “Girls’ Night Out” for my fourth visit, with Tasha of The Food Tasters, Terri of Parmesan Princess, and Amy of Running Om Green. A girls’ night out would not be complete without some Cosmopolitan (a little nod to one of my favorite T.V. shows, Sex & The City):

Sirena Cosmopolitan
Sirena’s Cosmopolitan! My first Cosmopolitan ever; this was soooo good (and only $8)! 😀
Sirena Cosmopolitan
Second angle of the Sirena Cosmopolitan! 😉
Tex-Mex Meal
Amy of Running Om Green’s Meal: Chipotle Sweet Potato soup, a Citrus Mahi taco and rice & beans!

Amy’s meal looked sooooooooooo good! Next time I visit Sirena, I will have to order a Citrus Mahi Taco! Also, the Chipotle Sweet Potato sound smelled AMAZING!

Citrus Mahi Taco from Sirena
Close-up of the Citrus Mahi taco!
Sweet Potato Soup
Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar!
Paella
Terri’s Meal: Sirena Paella!

I’m not sure how I missed Tasha’s meal, but there’s what she ordered: empanada, BBQ short rib taco (which looked REALLY good! I will also have to order this next time) and a citrus mahi taco!

Tacos
My dinner: a Pork Bulgogi taco (left), a Carne Asasa taco (right) and rice & beans!

The carne asada taco was great, but I particularly LOVED the pork bulgogi taco! I am a HUGE pork fan- add in apple fennel, cheese and mixed greens, and we have a winner! 😉

Lemon Mascarpone Cake
Terri’s dessert: Lemon Mascarpone cake!

Of course, all of the food bloggers had to order dessert! 😉 Terri chose a lemon mascarpone cake! This was so good! Very lemon-y, and you could really taste the mascarpone (which I LOVE)!

Reese's Pie
Tasha’s dessert: Reese’s Pie!

Tasha ordered the Reese’s Pie! Terri, Amy and I all tried a bite- MAN, was this good! So much better than the first time I had this dessert in December!

Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream
The return of the Chocolate Lava Cake & Nutella Ice Cream

I think I’m in love….here’s the dessert that Amy & I shared! ❤

Whether you live either in the South Hills, the East Side, or a different state, Sirena Taco Joint & Bar is DEFINITELY worth the trip!

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s website

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Facebook page

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Twitter page

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Instagram page

The Food Tasters’ Twitter page

Parmesan Princess’ Twitter page

Running Om Green’s Twitter page

Grand Opening Party and First Lunch at Cocothe!

Watermelon & Feta
One of the small bites from the Grand Opening Party: watermelon with feta, mixed greens and a balsamic vinaigrette!
*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from Cocothe. I am just a Pittsburgh blogger, who enjoys sharing her Foodie adventures. Photos were captures with my iPhone 5s, and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

I was kindly invited by a local magazine called Maniac (they focus on: fashion, food, travel and events), to attend a Grand Opening Party for this cute little cafe in Sewickley called Cocothe! They started off as a chocolaterie and bakery, but have recently hired a Chef from San Francisco, and have expanded with a Sunday Brunch, lunch and dinner menu!

Pictured above is one of the “small bites” from the opening party: watermelon, on top of feta and mixed greens, with a balsamic viniagrette drizzle! This was my favorite dish of the night; so tasty, refreshing and HEALTHY!

Free Champagne? Why yes; I think I'd like that! ;-)
Free Champagne? Why yes; I think I’d like that! 😉
Chocolate Truffle Ball
Chocolate Truffle Ball, covered in coco at Cocothe! 😀
This was sooooooooooooooo good! Oh, how I love chocolate!

Ribbing Cutting Cocothe
Executive Chef Elizabeth (left), & Owner & Pastry Chef Courtney (right) at Cocothe’s ribbon cutting!
Grand Opening party at Cocothe
Everyone from the Grand Opening Party, mingling!
Chocolate
Of course, Cocothe sells LOTS of chocolate!
Tea
Cocothe also sells tea (cool, huh)?
Loose-leaf tea
More tea (loose-leaf) at Cocothe!
Tea pot and tea set
Coo teapot (and tea set) at Cocothe!
Lunch menu at Cocothe
Lunch menu, part one!
Lunch menu at Cocothe
Lunch menu, part two!
Ever since the Grand Opening Party, my Mom and I have discussed visiting Cocothe for lunch; two weeks ago, we FINALLY received our opportunity!

My Mom and I conversed quiet a bit with the Executive Chef (Elizabeth), who not only was the Chef, but also waitress and cashier. She just moved here from San Francisco, and was ready to bring her California Culinary palette to Sewickley!

Ice Pomegranate tea and a Salted Caramel Cookie
Ice Pomegranate tea with a Salted Caramel Chocolate cookie! Sooooo good!
Who says your can’t have dessert first! It was such a hot day; thus, the Iced Pomegranate tea was the perfect way to cool off from our walk around Sewickley! The Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie was the perfect pre-cursor to lunch; so decadent!

Tea and cookie
Another glamor shot of the tea and cookie!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie
Close up of the GLORIOUS Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie!
Salad
Mom’s lunch- the “Lex and Lynn” salad!
My Mom’s lunch: the Lex and Lynn salad! I tried a bite, this was sooooo good! Mixed greens, squash, beets and feta cheese.

Salad close-up
Close-up of my Mom’s salad
Bella Donna sandwich and side salad
My lunch: the “Bella Donna” sandwich: burrata cheese, tomato and basil on focaccia bread, with a mixed green salad and a simple vinaigrette!
This was INCREDIBLE! The sandwich was so light (perfect for spring), and scrumptious, but the highlight for me was this side salad! No fuss- just mixed greens and a house vinaigrette, but I LOVED it! The mixed greens were nice and fresh, and the house vinaigrette was IN-CRE-DI-BLE!

Bella Donna Sandwich
Close up of my lovely lunch
There you have it, folks! Whether you live near Sewickley or not, it’s DEFINITELY worth the drive on Route 65 to Cocothe Chocolaterie and Cafe!

Upcoming posts:

My first visit to Salud Juicery

Brunch at Grit & Grace

Third, Fourth and Fifth visits to Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

Dinner at Bar Marco 

Dinner at The Commoner

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art, and cultural events!

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Cocothe’s website

Cocothe’s Facebook page

Cocothe’s Twitter page

Cocothe’s Instagram page

Lunch at La Palapa in the South Side

Mexican Restaurant in the South Side of Pittsburgh
La Palapa’s dining room in Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side neighborhood
*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from La Palapa. I’m just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures. Pictures were captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended. 

For my Mom’s birthday, I decided to treat her for lunch at La Palapa, in Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side neighborhood. We’ve both been to La Palapa’s food stall at the Pittsburgh Public Market, and absolutely LOVED it! We’ve been wanting to dine at the South Side location, and my Mom’s birthday presented the perfect opportunity.

La Palapa's entrance from the inside
La Palapa’s entrance (from the inside)
I loved the intimate space of La Palapa! Lots of warm and fuzzy feelings about this space! There was Mexican and Spanish music jamming on the radio. Also, the waiter and host was EXTREMELY knowledgeable and friendly!

Chips and Salsa
Chips and Green salsa from La Palapa! Best chips EVER, and the salsa verde was INCREDIBLE!
Our shared appetizer: homemade tortilla chips and salsa verde! Let me tell you, these were the best Mexican tortilla chips in the ‘burgh! I swear- you will not find better chips then at La Palapa! Also, the green salsa was INCREDIBLE! A great way to start our Mexican lunch adventure!

Cheese Enchiladas
The best cheese enchiladas I’ve EVER had (cover in green sauce, of course), with pinto beans and white rice!
My main course: cheese enchiladas with salsa verde, pinto beans and white rice. THE best Cheese Enchiladas I’ve EVER had! I swear, the green salsa added to the fabulous-ness of the dish! Plus, the pinto beans and white rice were AMAZING!

Even though my tummy was full when our waiter asked us about dessert, I happily said: “YES! What are you offering for dessert”? Luckily, he told me about the “off-menu, super secret dessert of the day”, that I was secretly hoping that he would mention:

Churros with Mexican Hot Chocolate
The “super secret, off-menu dessert”: Churros with Mexican Hot Chocolate!
Churros with Mexican Hot Chocolate! Ever since I sampled Churros in one of my Middle School Spanish classes, they have been one of my favorite desserts! Whether eaten alone, or dipped in the Mexican Hot Chocolate, they were HEAVENLY! I applaud you, and love you, La Palapa!

Close up of the Churros
Close-up of the Churros
Glamor shot of the Churros!

Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican Hot Chocolate = Absolutely FABULOUS!
This Mexican Hot Chocolate was soooooooooooooo good! I loved that it had a kick to it (our waiter said that cinnamon is normally added for a special touch). Perfect on the chilly day that we attended lunch!

So there you have it, folks! If you want the most authentic Mexican food in Pittsburgh, you MUST dine at La Palapa in the South Side. Conveniently, there’s a little lot (with a metered box) across the street from the restaurant. Thus, there’s no excuse! Whether you either live in Pittsburgh or are visiting, you need to go there!

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art and cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

La Palapa’s website

La Palapa’s Facebook page

La Palapa’s Twitter page

La Palapa’s Instagram page

First Two Visits to Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

Pork and Beans and Yellow Rice
Pork & Beans with Yellow Rice from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar. I am just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures! Photos were captured on an iPhone 5s and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

I have been ANTICIPATING my first visit to Sirena Taco Joint & Bar, located in the Donaldson’s Crossroads shopping plaza in McMurray PA. Doreen Valentine, former owner of Dozen Bake Shop, has dived into a new restaurant venture, serving up a plethora of tacos, cocktails and beer. She recruited Chef John Bingham (formerly Executive Chef of Nine on Nine) to lead Sirena’s culinary staff. Dozen’s cupcakes were (in my opinion) THE best cupcakes in the ‘burgh. Pair that with Nine on Nine’s excellent reputation, I had high hopes for Sirena Taco Joint & Bar…

I’m happy to say, my hopes were met & EXCEEDED!  I LOVED the branding for the restaurant (down by Wall-to-Wall, my favorite advertising company in Pittsburgh. Wall-to-Wall does the branding for Burgatory as well.), the fun decor and colors. Especially in the winter season (with snow piles lol), it’s great to see bright turquoise and orange colors on the restaurant walls. That INSTANTLY brightens the mood! The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable; the first time I dined at the restaurant, the waiter, bartender and hostesses all thanked me for coming and said “hope to see you again soon”! Now THAT’S great hospitality (and good business)!

Onwards to the food! Picture above is one of my side dishes from the first visit- pork & beans with yellow rice! Absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS! The perfect side dish for tacos! There’s just something about rice at Mexican and Spanish restaurants. What can I say, I love it!

Yellow Rice
Yellow Rice from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

Also, I ordered the yellow rice by itself and added on some of Sirena’s hot sauce! Let me tell you- this rice is INCREDIBLE! A little bit of hot sauce goes a long way, too! That’s a great spicy addition to the rice!

Pork Carnitas Tacos
Pork Carnitas Tacos from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

The main event: Pork Carnitas tacos from my first visit! Bacon jam, queso fresco, avocado creama and arugula. Let me tell you- one of THE best tacos I’ve EVER had! Whomever thought of putting bacon in a taco is a GENIUS! All hail the pig, a glorious animal!

Beef Brisket Tacos
Beef Brisket Tacos from Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

Here’s the taco order I chose for my second visit: Adobado Beef Brisket, with grilled pineapple, picked jalapeño, roasted corn salsa and queso fresco. This was also INCREDIBLE! I loved the grill marks on the tacos, too (almost like a panini). The beef brisket was cooked to perfection. I enjoyed the savory-ness of the brisket paired with the sweetness of the pineapple and the spiciness of the pickled jalapeño. Also, the corn salsa was WONDERFUL! Also, you can never go wrong with queso fresco (so good!)

Sirena’s prices are decent, too! Two people can dine here for lunch for less than $30; that’s great! Reasonable prices, GOOD quality food, excellent service and ambiance! It doesn’t get much better than this, folks!

If you are in the South Hills area, I HIGHLY recommend a drive over to Donaldson’s Crossroads to Sirena Taco Joint & Bar!

Three Cheers to good good, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s website

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Facebook page

Sirena Taco Joint & Bar’s Twitter page