The Unvegan

Recent Posts

Semi-South at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern
Wrapped in Delicious at The El Felix
The $25 Burger at The Spotted Pig
Eating Jongro BBQ in a Compact K-Town

‘Carne Asada’

Strolling to Rodeo Mexican Grill

Oooh multi-colored.
Oooh multi-colored.

In LA, the word Rodeo usually means one thing: a shopping street in Beverly Hills. Sometimes it means another random street on the west side and occasionally it means the thing with cowboys and stuff. Almost never does it mean dinner, unless you happen to find yourself strolling along Sunset in Echo Park and stepping into the first divey Mexican place you can find that just so happens to go by the name of Rodeo.

California-Style at Los Cabos

One fat burrito.
One fat burrito.

Recently I was driving down Penn Ave around Lawrenceville and I just happened to spot a Mexican place called Los Cabos. Moreover, it wasn’t just Mexican, but SoCal-style Mexican and I just had to stop in. What I found was a small Mexican spot that looked like the average corner taco or burrito shop all around Southern California, including the famous California Burrito.

SoCal Flavor at El Burro Comedor

A strong start on the outside.
A strong start on the outside.

While Pittsburgh may not be a hotbed of Mexican food, a friend of mine has been telling me to check out El Burro Comedor forever. The trouble is that the place is all the way over on the North Side, which in Point Breeze may as well be West Virginia. Nonetheless, I made it there and noticed that in addition to seeming like hipster central, the place had a menu that seemed to be pulled right from San Diego.

Un Poco Mexicano at Tropisueño

Stay classy, San Francisco.
Stay classy, San Francisco.

San Francisco’s Financial District may not be lauded for their Mexican food (that distinction belongs to the Mission from what I hear), yet somehow I found myself at Tropisueño getting down with Mexico. A far cry from a simple taqueria, Tropisueño is a pretty classy place, with mood lighting and menu prices somewhat reflecting a neighborhood that calls itself the Financial District.

La Isla de Casa Rojas

Onions?!
Onions?!

Seattle is pretty far north of the border. The border with Mexico, that is, because Canada is super close. So, when I went to dinner at Casa Rojas on Bainbridge Island, I had my trepidations about the quality of the cuisine. These trepidations were certainly tempered on account of the meal being paid for by an alum, but I was still hoping for something good.

Too Much Tomato at Steel Cactus

Oh come on lettuce.
Oh come on lettuce.

Steel Cactus in Shadyside is a place more typically known for drinks than food, yet, I found myself there hungry and waiting for drinks. The cactus thing in their name is somehow connected to the fact that they serve Mexican food and I was skeptical not only because it was primarily a drinking place, but also because Pittsburgh isn’t quite known as a bastion of Mexican food.

Master Al Pastor at Leo’s Taco Truck

Love them spools of meat.
Love them spools of meat.

If you could have one final meal in LA that truly represents the city, what would you choose? Umami Burger? Korean BBQ? Some sort of Asian fusion? Anything with avocado in it? Seeing as I had eaten Umami the night before, for me it was a taco truck. You see, taco trucks just might represent LA better than any other food purveyor. Their mobility is all-important in a city that relies so much on cars. Their Mexican dishes feel perfectly at home in a place that was once Mexico and is chock-full of Mexican heritage. And their relatively low barrier to entry provides a great opportunity in a city that brings new opportunists in every day. For my last meal in LA, I chose Leo’s Taco Truck.

Pure California at Jalapenos

Hefty like California.
Hefty like California.

Down in San Diego for a drinking and baseball excursion, I somehow found myself at a place called Jalapenos in Carmel Mountain looking to fill my stomach with something non-alcoholic. My buddy had told me that the California Burrito was the way to go here and went on to explain that said burrito had fries…inside. Yeah, I know, pretty awesome and I was ready to commit as soon as I learned what else filled the thing.