In Pittsburgh, there is a big time restaurant group called Big Burrito. One of their spots is Kaya, which I reviewed recently, and another is Mad Mex in Shadyside, which I had high expectations for based on the name of the restaurant group. A look at the menu made it apparent that this wasn’t your traditional Mexican meal, but I hoped the creativity would shine like it did in LA at places like Tinga.
The menu was vast and had Mexican classics like burritos, tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas. Yet, they all had a modern twist, like a red velvet tortilla or boneless wings in the dish. I opted for that latter option, called the Wing-O-Rito. It came with a choice of wing choices and I went with the San Francisco style and opted for the Insane level of heat (rather than mild or wild). San Fransisco style meant honey, garlic and red pepper flakes. It was also filled with cheese, rice and beans, with no veggie filler, and blue cheese sauce on the side to go with the buffalo wing aspect of the burrito. When it came out, I was shocked because I had never seen such a burrito. Shaped like a square, it was more reminiscent of a Crunchwrap supreme than a burrito and clearly wasn’t intended to be eaten by hand. As a nice finishing touch, there was a bit of a creme sauce on top shaped in the logo of Mad Mex.
I cut into the monstrous burrito-like entity and destroyed the perfectly crafted logo in the process. Inside I found some deliciously spicy and not-so-wing-like chicken, but some is the key word. The burrito was definitely dominated by beans and rice, with chicken seemingly more of an afterthought. Considering the spice level I chose for my burrito, this was actually a good thing, because I needed some buffer from the heat. Yet, if I had chosen a less spicy burrito, I think I would have found the lack of chicken to be a bit disappointing.
Nonetheless, I was pretty happy with my meal. Mad Mex does some pretty creative things with Mexican food and while it is not quite at the level of other non-traditional Mexican places, it’s not too shabby either.