The Pittsburgh Taco Competition brings Latin meals and tradition to the Strip District

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like tacos. Whether made with corn, flour, chicken, steak, pork, or beans, these hearty and delicious dishes deserve to be celebrated – and a festival in Pittsburgh does just that.

The Pittsburgh Taco Festival held at Strip District Terminal, is an annual celebration all about taco. The festival took place on Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and had more than 25 different food trucks and vendors, each selling their own culinary variations of tacos and other Latin American foods.

After the event Website, Craig McCloud founded the festival in 2016 to create an opportunity for food trucks and startups to benefit. The festival also cooperates with the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation and the Latin American Cultural Union, and they in turn receive a percentage of the net sales.

Some vendors included a Venezuelan restaurant Coriander & Garlic, Mexican food truck the Oaxaca corner, taste Mexican restaurant, Argentinian restaurant My empanada and Mexican restaurant La Palapa. General admission tickets are $ 10 each, and early bird and VIP packages were also available.

Jesus Martinez, Greenfield resident and owner of La Palapa, said the South Side restaurant had not one but two different booths at the festival. Including a food truck with tacos, quesadillas and empanadas as well as a separate tent with birria and churros.

According to Martinez, the traditional Mexican-style cuisine in his restaurant sets his truck apart from other vendors at the festival.

“For example, birria, which we make from short ribs, isn’t really found in Pittsburgh, but it’s something people in Mexico eat all the time,” Martinez said.

La Palapa’s Birria was such a hit it sold out around 5pm. Zoe Yarsky, a senior citizen of Pitt studying industrial engineering, found this the hard way.

“When we came here, we really wanted the birria tacos and waited in line for them,” said Yarsky. “And when I got second they said they were all ground beef, which basically ruined my day.”

Food trucks and stalls were lined up on either side of the terminal parking lot, with a stage in the middle for performances.

In addition to food vendors, the festival featured local artists and live musicians, such as a pottery Linzys Macetas and a lively performance by the Latin Fusion Band Gava’s beat.

For Chris Kirchin – a 2021 Pitt Nursing graduate originally from South London, UK but living in Shadyside – the festival was a great way to try out some of what Pittsburgh’s taco scene had to offer.

“I lived in Texas for a while and was excited to come here to try authentic Mexican tacos again,” said Kirchin. “Some of these food trucks are fantastic.”

In addition to the tacos, Kirchin also appreciates the festival’s local artists. Some works of art contain drawings by Zev Woskoff, Pottery by Linzys Macetas, and face paints from Beanie Paints LLC.

“When I went down the deck there were some very cool artists with fantastic pieces, and most of them were brilliantly priced, so I really thought about getting a pair,” said Kirchin.

Kirchin wasn’t the only visitor to the festival who was impressed by the artists. Emma Schuszler, graduate industrial engineer, was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of the event.

“Maybe I should have just read the flyer better, it probably advertised it, but I didn’t know there would be music,” said Schuszler. “I thought that contributed a lot to the experience – the atmosphere was spot on.”

Although the festival had a variety of vendors and performers, there were some logistical drawbacks, according to Rachyl Rackin, a senior bio-engineer.

“I felt it was an expensive cover charge,” said Rackin. “And the alcohol was very expensive. It’s like $ 8 for any type of alcohol. In addition, the tacos are expensive and the lines are long. “

Because of this, Rackin said she didn’t have the “ultimate taco experience” but had a good time overall.

For Martinez, the festival was a great business opportunity and introduced new dishes to the Pittsburghers.

“The visibility we’re getting here is great marketing,” said Martinez. “We make good sales, but people can also try foods that cannot be found anywhere else in the city.”

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