Friday, January 13, 2012

Tacoquest Pittsburgh: Casa Rasta*

One of the primary functions of Beardhole Pleasures is to catalog the author's experiences as he tries to consume tacos from every taco-selling establishment in Pittsburgh. Tacoquest starts NOW.

Beechview is an urban wasteland. For nearly a year, residents without cars had no access to groceries when the Foodland closed. The entire time that I have lived in Beechview the most traveled intersection has been filled with empty storefronts; properties left to rot by an absentee landlord, living it up in Brazil. Lifelong residents of the neighborhood shuffle around, waiting for public transportation, telling whoever wants to hear about how it used to be a nice neighborhood until the "coloreds" moved in. "And there's lots of MEXICANS too!"

Pictured: A rare glimpse of the cliff-dwelling Beechview subspecies known as "racist fuck."

Do you want a draft beer? Well, yeungling is the best you can get, and the lines are probably so dirty don't be surprised if you cough up a chunk of yeast. If the rent wasn't so cheap, I would have have made my exodus years ago. After 4 1/2 years of living on top of shit mountain, a new food option finally popped up: Casa Rasta.

Casa Rasta has no sign save a crayon drawing in the window. When I first noticed it, I was walking to a friend's house to watch wrestling (a popular activity in Beechview). Upon passing a building that I knew to be a closed pizza shop, I saw that there was a lit-up "open" sign in the window. As I walked past I thought, "Open? What's open?" When I returned later in the week, during daylight, I noticed that the exterior of the building had been painted. I sauntered in from the cold, excited to have food in Beechview for the first time that wasn't pizza or bar food.

I was greeted by two dreadlocked smilers who were the namesakes of the establishment. They are a married couple who just moved back to Pittsburgh after a brief stint in San Diego.
The Menu

The menu consists of reasonably priced favorites including tacos with corn tortillas (store bought, but good nonetheless), tostadas (hard tacos), burritos in flour tortillas, and tortas; a sort of Mexican sandwich. After taking an exceptionally long time to order, I finally decided on three tacos: asada, carnitas and jamaican jerk chicken.

The asada and carnitas were palatable. Served with cilantro and what appeared to be house-made red or green salsa, I had no reason to complain, but what really got me going (sexually) was the Jamaican Jerk(off) Chicken. Bursting with tangy and sweet flavor, the texturally satisfying chicken was complemented perfectly by fresh mango-avocado salsa.
I now only eat my chicken in jerk form.

Subsequent visits to Casa Rasta yielded consistently gartifying results. Highlights of return trips include: rajas, jerk chicken with the burrito option, chorizo and soyrizo. The soyrizo was so convincing that I'm quite confident that I would not have been able to differentiate between the two in a blind taste test.

Beechview doesn't deserve Casa Rasta, but perhaps Casa Rasta signals the turning point for the dying neighborhood. An initiative to revitalize Broadway has brought about a charcuterie, a non-profit coffee shop, and an awful, awful IGA grocery store. If Beechviewers can adqeuately support these new establishments, maybe it won't be so awful to live here anymore.

-Mike Moustache

*DISCLAIMER: I'm not from Mexico. I haven't lived in SoCal. I'm not Mexican, and I don't claim to be an expert on Mexican food. For these reasons, TACOQUEST articles will make no mention of the concept of AUTHENTICITY. Put that shit in your beardhole.**
**DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER: Beardhole Pleasures does NOT recommend putting shit in your beardhole.

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