At Emiliano’s Mexican Restaurant on Pittsburgh’s South Side I recently had what I consider to be the best Mexican meal ever in my 60-some years of dining. That could be end of story, but readers probably expect more details.
Not one of the zillions of over done theme chain spots, Emiliano’s is a family owned enterprise, reason enough to try it out. The South Side location occupies a corner at 2557 E. Carson St., a fortuitous location. Two blocks to the east lies the ever-teeming South Side Works complex with it’s upscale shops, cinema and two hour wait time eateries. Two to the west, you’re engulfed by the hordes of inebriated college kids packing the roughly 100,000 bars and bistros of the East Carson St. scene. Imagine a tranquility oasis between two war zones complete with available on street parking and you’ve found Emiliano’s.
My party rethought plans to dine at Hofbrauhaus in South Side Works when faced with a two hour wait on a pleasant autumn Saturday evening and wandered over to Emiliano’s, finding handicapped parking directly in front of the door and no wait to speak of. The place was full enough to look lively and verify it’s popularity, but one or two tables were open.
Emiliano’s décor is drenched in cheery, rustic oranges, yellows and blues with front floor to ceiling windows for natural light. Our large, comfortable booth accommodated six with a chair on the end for a handicapped diner. Access for handicapped patrons was convenient at the door, tables and restrooms. There’s a small balcony area which doesn’t appear accessible.
We started off with the salsa sampler, a trio of verde, picosa, and cilantro salsas with excellent chips for $3.99. As soon as we sat down our server arrived with the customary house salsa and chips, and our sampler came so quickly that she hadn’t yet brought napkins or silverware. With salsa dripping down my chin and no napkin, I pointed that out, and the bubbly young woman eagerly solved the problem. The three salsas varied in heat and flavor nicely and suited everyone in the party.
The Jalisco Special at $12.99 was a winner. It featured generous portions of tender carne asada steak and grilled, marinated chicken breast topped with mushrooms. Normally it’s covered with cheese sauce, which I opted to have on the side. Rice, beans, pico salad, guacamole, sour cream and warm, fresh tortillas wrapped in foil were all included. The sides weren’t just tasteless filler, as in so many Mexican chain places; each stood deliciously on it’s own.
One of my companions ordered the shrimp and steak fajitas. The sizzling skillet was tantalizing with an ample quantity of large shrimp made especially tasty by being grilled together with the steak and veggies. The Fajitas Texanas has shrimp, chicken and steak for only $12.99.
A kid’s menu offers many choices for just $4.99 complete with fountain drink.
Although stuffed, we bravely managed to share two orders of fried ice cream among the seven of us. At $6, it comes with vanilla ice cream in a crispy tortilla covered in whipped cream, honey, cinnamon sugar, and strawberry sauce.
Emiliano’s has a second location in the North Hills at McIntyre Square, and plans to open a third at 5375 William Flynn Highway, Gibsonia to serve the northern suburbs.
Our bill totaled $130 for seven very happy diners including tip, and no alcoholic beverages. It was a superb meal and will be my first choice for my birthday.