Last Updated on July 13, 2022 by Jeremy
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When we heard that Duolingo was opening a taqueria at their East Liberty office, aptly named Duo's Taqueria, we knew we had to go right away. When we heard that you can get a free taco from answering a Duolingo-style Spanish question right (after placing an order), we were already fans of the marketing. But when we heard that Chef Marcella Ogrodnik was running it (formerly of Cafe Agnes), we knew we couldn't get there quickly enough.
It would be one thing to praise this taco stand for its unique marketing alone- it is unlike any other place in the city. But when they also offer some of the best tacos in Pittsburgh from a stellar chef, you have a force to be reckoned with here.
You simply need to visit this one as quickly as possible.
Duo's Taqueria is Simply Perfect
Within minutes of arriving at Duo's Taqueria, we felt like we were transported back to Mexico (where we gorged ourselves on a crazy amount of tacos in Mexico City earlier in the year).
From the walk-up ordering format (complete with Spanish ordering instructions) to the traditional taco menu including features like suadero (brisket), cachete (beef cheek), nopales (cactus), campechano (mixed proteins), pastor (marinated pork), and lengua (tongue), sides like chicharron and frijoles, and add-ons like tacos con costra (griddled cheese), we really had to do a double take to remind us that we were, in fact, still in Pittsburgh.
We decided to go big here and ordered one of every taco simply because we couldn't decide on what to order. They were served on fresh tortillas (ground from corn and pressed in-house, much like the pupusas from the former Cafe Agnes) and topped with cilantro and onion.
These are the kind of tacos you'll be going back and forth on which element is your favorite because it is really hard to pick a clear winner. The tender meats? The stellar tortillas? The flavors at large? Honestly, we can't pick just one. They were all literally perfect.
Although if I had to choose, I would eat six of the cachete, with half being regular and half being con costra style for good measure. The meat there was particularly sublime and is a style you are hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Pittsburgh.
If you are curious as to why I say six, it is only partially because I have a monster appetite for tacos, but also because the tacos are not terribly large portion-wise. For us, three would make for a solid lunch, four would be a good-sized dinner, and five or more would be if we were starving or knew we wouldn't be coming back for another visit in the near future.
It is worth noting that tacos do run about $4-$5 each as of opening, slightly more expensive than average for street tacos of comparable size elsewhere and that there is only limited outdoor seating- roughly three tables during our visit. That being said, we'd pay any price for tacos of this quality and would eat them in just about any weather condition you can throw at us.
But Duolingo goes one step further with a unique opportunity to win a bonus taco for free and is a great way to average out the price of the meal or simply get you closer to my ideal taco count!
Learn Spanish, Get Tacos is a Brilliant Promotion
At the end of the day, Duo's Taqueria is still operated by the language learning giant Duolingo. The restaurant is in their office building in East Liberty, uses their branding and mascot, and is every bit Duolingo the whole way through. Chef Marcella is the star that makes the perfect tacos, of course, but Duolingo's branding is still prominent everywhere you look.
When you order, signs are present to help encourage you to converse entirely in Spanish if you were so inclined. Before you pay, you are also given an opportunity to answer a Duolingo Spanish question to receive a pre-selected taco of the day for free. These questions tend to be rather easy, and are multiple-choice per typical Duolingo questions- so odds are good you'll be scoring a free taco during your visit insofar as the promotion is available. (Ours was “How do you say England?” with the Spanish answer choices being perro, Inglaterra, and dia.)
While this is a brilliant marketing tool to show off how easy it is to learn a language on Duolingo, there are two key points worth emphasizing that aren't obvious at the surface.
First, the free taco is an extra taco, not a discount- we were pleasantly surprised to find an extra taco on our plate when our order came out. As stated above, we are quite fine with more tacos.
Second, there only appeared to be one selected taco of the day for this question (which for us was al pastor but from the promotion language it sounds like this one may change regularly). We'll never say no to whatever bonus taco ended up on our plate, but the promotion may not work out as well if you don't eat a specific style. As it happens, we adore tacos al pastor and were not upset by the pre-selected choice during our visit.
Overall, Duo's Taqueria is one of the finest taco stands in Pittsburgh. We would say this even without Duolingo's unique marketing factored in. The tacos are delicious, something East Liberty could use more of, and really hold their own on flavor alone. But earning an extra taco for answering a Spanish question right? Even better.
We plan on being regulars at this one, and after your visit, we're certain you will be too.
Duo's Taqueria is located at 5906 Penn Avenue in East Liberty within Duolingo's office buildings. As noted in this article, it is a walk-up window with limited outdoor seating.