La Hacienda, Pleasant Hills, PA
June 14, 2010

3075 Clairton Rd
West Mifflin, PA 15122
(412) 653-4141

We always love what people name places after. Naming a Mexican restaurant in the US “La Hacienda” would be like us starting a place called “Fancy House” in Guadalupe. Someday, we are going to start a business that exclusively names restaurants, nail salons and hair stylists. LA Nails. Hollywood Nails. The Hair Force. Curl Up and Dye. That’s all you get for free.

Taking over the remnants of a Ruby Tuesday at the rapidly dying Century 3 Mall (which may not even make it to the end of this decade), La Hacienda closed off the mall entrance and built the outside up to look like a…fancy Mexican estate house. Or hacienda! Oh, the education you get when you read Beer, Bacon, Candy!

We started our meal with chips and salsa, which, since the days of Chi-Chi’s, is de rigueur when it comes to Mexican places. The chips were very tasty, but the salsa was just OK. Quite thin, really.

Another Mexican tradition, if you will, is the decoration in a place like this. La Hacienda straddles the line between bright, festive Mexican colors, Aztec iconography, bullfights and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Surely an odd mix.

The menu was expansive. And quite honestly, expensive. We think they are combating this with their new lunch buffet, which is only available Monday to Friday. But us? We were there on Sábado. Therefore, we had to make a decision and not just rely on the wonderful ease that a buffet can bring, where you just say, “I’ll have the buffet,” and absolve yourself from any making of choices.

We got a chili poblano, which ended up being a greasy, fried, gooey puddle. The sauce was decent, but it was pretty messy getting to it. The chicken burrito was better, with really tasty chicken.

The best thing we can say about La Hacienda was that our waiter was seriously the best waiter we have ever had ever. This is not hyperbole. He was honestly the most attentive, nicest waiter in the history of waiterdom. He even called Nina, “my lady.” I mean, this dude took waiting more seriously than anyone ever. Forever ever? Forever ever.

La Hacienda has been around a year or so, but it still feels like they are getting things going. Regardless of the fact that Pittsburgh is about as far from Mexico as you can get, there are plenty of Mexican places in town. All places that are better than La Hacienda, mind you. But if you are at Century 3 looking for wigs or comic books or just have some time to kill and like shopping at Rainbow (and we do, obviously), you’ll get treated well and can enjoy a soupy Mexican thing-a-ma-job.

La Hacienda on Urbanspoon

Round Corner Cantina – Lawrenceville
April 26, 2010

Round Corner Cantina
3720 Butler St
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
(412) 904-2279

We’d heard a lot about the Round Corner. It’s in the heart of Hipsterville, but we braved the pork pie hats and Animal Collective music to have some Mexican food.

As you may have read, as a fan of this bloggy, we have been snowed by hip Mexican places before. Will this place prove any different? Read on…

First off, it was uncomfy coming into the restaurant. We walked past the bar and had no idea where the dining room was. There was no server to greet us or tell us where to sit. We feel weird all the time. We don’t need your help feeling weirder. It was dark and red and no one was telling us where to go…so we wandered to a table and finally someone told us to sit down.

The décor can best be described as thus: A 70s interpretation of a Victorian Art Noveau print. And with the long troth filled with ice in the men’s bathroom, we can tell you that this is an authentic Mexican experience.

Our table was tight and felt like it could tip at any time. And this place was loud. Like, we couldn’t even talk loud. Our servers were, at best, surly. But hey, we didn’t come here to get treated well. We came to eat.

A major strike: no Yuengling. But if you want a $6.50 can of Boddington’s, old man, you can have one.

We started with the papitas, which is like Mexican lasagna. Sweet potatoes in a block of cheese. This was good, but a bit heavy. That said, you know. It’s a chock-a-block full of spicy and cheese and meat and sweet potatoes.

They also brought the chips and salsa out. The chips were nice, homemade chips. The salsa, on the other hand, was runny and did not hold up well.

We tried two different tacos:

The chirizo broke in half and became a gigantic mess before we even got to eat it. It had a decent enough taste, but the double taco shells were almost too much breading for Sam.

The pork belly was a new taste. It would have been nice if they had more apple in them. If it’s possible, they almost had too much meat.

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All we ate was meat. Cheese. And carbs. But really, that’s what we ordered.

Looking on urbanspoon.com, we see a ton of four to five star reviews for this place. Maybe we went on an off night. But we’d rather go to Taco Loco and get more taco for less. This was a really up there in price meal with not as much return. We can’t say it was bad, by any means. It was alright. But we kept hearing that this was the greatest thing ever. And it was…well, it was a Mexican place with high priced beer and tacos. If that’s what you want, and you want to seem cool, then by all means come on down.

Round Corner Cantina on Urbanspoon