Deliciously Cheap: Condado Tacos

Daevan Mangalmurti, Writer

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While Penguins fans may be of the opinion that nothing good ever comes out of Columbus, food-lovers in Pittsburgh are about to disagree. Condado Tacos, a Columbus restaurant, recently opened a branch in Pittsburgh. The restaurant has applied the build-your-own-food idea to tacos, coming up with a creative and personalized menu that allows customers to customize their meals.

The interior of Condado is decorated with the dramatic art of festive skeletons, fiery foodscapes, and flummoxing art on both of its two levels. The restaurant is located at 971 Liberty Ave., right in the heart of Pittsburgh’s happening downtown. Condado’s concept is simple: it allows its customers to choose the number of tacos they would like to receive and the ingredients that go into those tacos. Like Chipotle, but better-tasting and without E. coli. The choices Condado offers are sorted into the tortilla, protein, toppings, cheese, salsa, and sauces sections. It is not mandatory to include something from every section. If you really wanted to, you could get a plain piece of flour tortilla topped with ghost pepper hot sauce. The menu is extremely open to choice. Besides the traditional hard corn and soft flour taco shell options, Condado also offers creative new takes on the traditional tacos. On my visit there I had the “ju-ju,” a hard taco enclosed by a soft taco with cheese and chorizo in between. It added flavor, crunch, and texture to my already delicious taco. If chorizo and cheese are not up your alley, there are also options with guac, sour cream, and refried beans, as well as the obligatory taco bowl.

Condado’s protein section holds offerings for both the carnivorous and vegetarian sets. Like any good Latino restaurant, it serves variations on chorizo, pork, chicken, and beef. But it also offers more foreign choices like jackfruit, ghost pepper cooked beef, and ceviche (a raw fish seafood dish). For vegetarians there are tofu and mushroom options, as well as the jackfruit. The barbecue pulled jackfruit is probably the most interesting food on the menu. Jackfruit is an Asian fruit native to India that is known for its strong, fruity aroma and large size. By including it on the menu, Condado shows itself to be exploring new directions in food, and the dish is actually delicious.

The rest of the restaurant’s menu is composed of a plethora of toppings, salsas, sauces, and cheeses that bring freshness, texture, and spice to whatever taco you build. My last recommendation is about one of my favorite drinks, horchata. Horchata is a Hispanic drink that has many versions across the Spanish-speaking world. Rice and cinnamon are usually the core ingredients, with varying amounts of nuts, sesame, milk, water, and spices incorporated depending on where you are on the map. The version I got at Condado stood out to me because of its rich, creamy texture and the absence of ice, which means more horchata is actually in the glass. I strongly recommend it.

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