Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on April 8, 2022.
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When I first walked into Tocayo, it felt familiar- almost like I had been there before. This, in a way, makes a bit of sense as it is the second restaurant from the owners of Totopo in Mt Lebanon. So when I made that connection (a fact that I, honestly, completely overlooked until after visiting), things started to make more sense.
Tocayo feels like a worthy successor to the Mt Lebanon staple, and if you have ever enjoyed a meal there you would do well to run, not walk, to this one as the same great qualities and flavors can be found here!
Tacos, Tequila, and More at Tocayo in Shadyside
Tocayo's menu reads like a wonderful and traditional Mexican menu you'd find in the heart of Mexico City or throughout the country. While they are the strongest in tacos and tequila/mezcal, the restaurant has a modest number of options of soup, chips and salsa, burritos, fajitas, and more.
I started off a lunch visit to this one with a cocktail, as their strong mezcal program is hard to overlook. I opted for the Pepino which was made with mezcal, cucumber, lime juice, agave nectar, and a rim of tajin chile powder. The mezcal selection for this one wasn't the smokiest (which I appreciated) and made the beverage taste like a refreshing cucumber margarita. This is the kind of drink I could've easily ordered a second of, but the $16 price tag stopped me as it felt like a bit too much to justify a second round.
On the food side of things, I had to grab an order of queso fundido with chips as the mix-ins of chorizo, roasted poblano peppers, and salsa roja sounded like a winning combination. I should say that these ingredients were generously served here and balanced out the cheese nicely while not being too spicy on the pepper side of things. As much as I wanted to save some to take home for later, I'd be lying if I said I didn't eat it all right there- it was that good.
For my entree, I opted for an order of tacos. At Tocayo, you can either get two of the same taco or mix and match and simply pay whatever price is higher for the two. Naturally, I went for the mix and match with one pastor and one barbacoa.
First up, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't talk about the tortillas. The corn tortillas stand out in appearance, texture, and flavor from the conventional tortillas served at most tacos in Pittsburgh. This is likely because Tocayo mixes some blue corn into the tortilla mix to give these an added pop.
The pastor, historically my favorite taco style, was made of pork shoulder and topped with red onions, habanero pineapple salsa, cilantro, and roasted pineapple. While I didn't note too many chunks of pineapple relative to what I expected, you certainly get a concentrated pineapple flavor in the salsa and the charred pork shoulder was very reminiscent of a traditional pastor (albeit likely not cooked on the trompo). While this is a playful take on the style, I can appreciate it as the flavors worked.
The barbacoa, on the other hand, was a bit more straightforward. It came with shredded beef, grilled onions, queso fresco, avocado, and salsa roja. The toppings here were perhaps a bit too heavy and overshadowed the beef to a slight degree, but all things being equal the barbacoa incredibly tender and had that rich flavor we come to expect from the shredded beef.
As an added bonus, orders of tacos come with a cup of soup or a house salad, so I was also able to try a verde pozole soup with my meal. This one included salsa verde and pulled chicken and was arguably one of the best soups I've had in a while. It was intensely rich and lightly spicy and the flavors seemed to meld together beautifully. Had I not eaten enough for three already, I would've ordered a bowl of this one.
I walked out of Tocayo completely stuffed and already thinking about when I will make a return trip to this one. So if you find yourself craving Mexican when in Shadyside, you'll do well to get to this one as fast as you can.
Tocayo is located at 810 Ivy Street in Shadyside.
Looking for more great tacos in Pittsburgh? Click the previous link to check out all the spots we've been to so far!
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