Pittsburgh Taco Festival brings Latin American food and culture to the Strip District

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It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like tacos. Whether made from corn, flour, chicken, steak, pork or beans, these savory and mouth-watering dishes are worth celebrating – and a festival in Pittsburgh does just that.

The Pittsburgh Taco Festival, held at Strip District Terminal, is an annual celebration of all things taco. The festival ran from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and featured more than 25 different food trucks and vendors, each selling their own culinary dishes based on tacos and other Latin American fare.

Depending on the event website, Craig McCloud founded the festival in 2016 to create an opportunity that benefited food trucks and start-ups. The festival is also a partner of Hispanic Development Corporation of Pittsburgh and the Latin American Cultural Union, and in turn, they receive a percentage of the net proceeds.

Some vendors have included a Venezuelan restaurant Coriander & Ajo, Mexican food truck el Rincón Oaxaqueño, El Sabor Mexican restaurant, Argentinian restaurant Mi Empanada and mexican restaurant The Palapa. General admission tickets were $ 10 each, and Early Bird and VIP packages were also available.

Jesus Martinez, a Greenfield resident and owner of La Palapa, said the South Side restaurant does not have one but two different stands at the festival. These included a food truck with tacos, quesadillas and empanadas as well as a stand-alone tent with birria and churros.

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

“Like the birria, which we make with baby back ribs, you don’t really find it when you’re in Pittsburgh, but it’s something people eat all the time in Mexico,” Martinez said.

La Palapa’s birria was such a success that it sold out around 5 p.m. Zoe Yarsky, an industrial engineering student at Pitt, discovered it the hard way.

“When we got here we wanted the birria tacos so much, so we stood in line for them,” Yarsky said. “And once I was in the second line, they said they only had ground beef left, 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 the performances.

In addition to food vendors, the festival featured local artists and live musicians, such as a pottery shop Macetas by Linzy and a lively performance by the group Latin Fusion Gavas Beat.

For Chris Kirchin – a 2021 Pitt nursing graduate who hails from south London, UK but resides in Shadyside – the festival was a great way to try out some of what the Pittsburgh taco scene is. had to offer.

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

In addition to the tacos, Kirchin said he also enjoys the local artists attending the festival. Some works of art included drawings by Zev Woskoffpottery Macetas by Linzy, and make-up from Beanie Paints LLC.

“Coming down to the patio, there were some really cool artists with some fantastic pieces, and most of them were unbeatable prices, so I really thought about buying a few,” Kirchin said.

Kirchin was not the only attendee impressed with the performers of the festival. Emma Schuszler, a graduate in industrial engineering, said she was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of the event.

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

Although the festival had a bevy of vendors and performers, there were some logistical downsides to the event according to Rachyl Rackin, a bioengineering major.

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

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

For Martinez, the festival provided a great business opportunity and exposed the Pittsburghers to new dishes.

“The visibility we’re getting here is great marketing,” Martinez said. “We have good sales, but people can also try foods that you won’t find anywhere else in town. ”



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