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Oct 27, 2007 08:16 PM

Wexford heads up (Pittsburgh north 'burbs)

Well, this was a surprise today. Just a few days ago we were down at the Pine Tree Shoppes in Wexford for our occasional stop at Thai Place, and were oblivious then to what we noticed today just driving by on Rt 19. In fact, since we weren't in a hurry, we ventured in to make sure what we were seeing. Turns out it was this: Passport Cafe It's in the space on the end that used to house a Rotelli Pizza/Pasta franchise. It was mid-afternoon and we did not eat there. It's also, as I see now, a bit outside our normal price range for a dinner out near home. But for those looking for something different out here in the otherwise fairly barren north, this could be worth a shot. Opened in September, it says.

Also of note the new branch of Walnut Grove is now open in the former Elephant and Castle building just up the hill on the same side of Rt 19. This place is rightly packed every night we've been by at the moment as everyone works out the pent up demand for something new. This just opened in the last 2-3 weeks. Should be better than most of the crap we have out this way. I'm sure it's drawing people who are tired of, say, Atria's up the road, or such. I only have the original Walnut Grill in Shadyside to compare it to, above average anyway for such a large menu.

The third new Wexford restaurant, open a couple months now I think, is Patron Mexican Grill, down in the long empty building where Rt 19 crosses over Rt 910. We don't do much Mexican and haven't been, but I hear this is pretty decent. Web site is incomplete with no menu yet Went by one Saturday early on and it was so full that cars looked to be trying to park across Rt 19 in the car dealership!

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  1. You had me excited momentarily... I'd drive from South Hills to Wexford for good Mexican restaurant, but clicking the link, I see that it's yet another combo plate joint. Maybe Patron is a good combo plate joint, but we've got that covered down here with El Campesino in Peters. Wish we'd get something more than the usual stuff rolled in a tortilla with rice and beans on the side. Mexican cuisine is soooooo much more than that.


    7 Replies
    1. re: Panini Guy

      Sorry bout that. :-) What about Mexico City downtown? I haven't been there either. As I say, we just don't bother much (SO is veg and almost any Latin American food doesn't really lend itself, apart from the deliberately inauthentic places like Mad Mex). Somehow I thought that both Mexico City and Patron were more than combo plate, but maybe I'm dreaming that we ever get more than that here.

      It's pretty funny (at first glance) that you're from NY and miss good Mexican. I always think of the people missing Mexican as being from the West, but of course it's not that surprising as people come from everywhere to NY. Just have to break out of that generalization. A couple people who are from out west seem to like the aforementioned Patron and also Azul (in Sewickley).

      Have you tried this Rivas place in Carnegie? This is a Nicaraguan restaurant. I thought they had a web site, but all I found was the P-G writeup I know, I know. Hey, they have a new food critic now, maybe it'll get better! ;-) But this is from that in between time. Sure made it sound good though. They moved from one flooded place (Etna) to another. I have really vague but pleasant memories of dinner at a Nicaraguan place in St Louis of all places probably about 10 years ago. Not any way to judge it really, but if you haven't tried, well, the descriptions of this sound...I guess kind of like what I would imagine some non-combo-plate Mexican cuisine could be like although I'm sure it's not quite the same.

      I'm trying to remember if I've ever had Mexican that wasn't like the combo plate joints. Maybe in NY once, but I can't remember exactly what it was like, and it was delivery so not too elaborate.

      1. re: CrazyOne

        Thanks for the mention of Rivas. Wasn't aware of it before. We've heard good things about Azul as well but haven't been yet. And we still like Taco Loco and the page on El Campesino's menu w/o the numbers on it.

        While I'm originally from the Northeast (both NY and Boston metros) and there is a greater variety of Latin American places up there, it's certainly no panacea. Forthunately the couple of good places are very good. But I also lived in Mexico for a year , which was where I really learned to enjoy the gamut of dishes in the national cuisine, only 1% of which we see in Pgh unfortunately.

        1. re: Panini Guy

          If it matters, Azul has some nice tequila. And I don't mean Jose Gold.

          Rivas is BYOB.

          1. re: Panini Guy

            Panini Guy, I'm a food writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and I'm doing a story on the "other" food writers of Pittsburgh, i.e. the one's who don't get paid for it. I love reading your posts on Chowhound and various other Pittsburgh food and drink sites, and I would love to interview you for the article. If you're interested, send your contact info to, or call me at 412-263-1198.

        2. re: Panini Guy

          I am from San Francisco and was so excited to eat at Taco Laco in the Southside. Super authentic down to the Latino soaps on their flat screen TV. Its a little pricey but so worth it. They have amazing specials there and a lot of traditional mexican fare as well. I also like that there is a parking lot for the place. I know its not Wexford, but next time you're in the area...

          1. re: Burgh_eater

            Where in Mexico did you live? I lived in Tampico- on the Gulf of Mexico- the seafood was excellent. I have yet to find anything great..I've resorted to making my tortillas from scratch.

            1. re: QSheba

              Right in Mexico City. 57 Rio Ebro, five blocks from the US Embassy off Reforma. You're right on the seafood, which is what is so frustrating up here. Actually, some of the best sushi I've ever had was in Mexico, especially the fresh water eel and the snapper (huachinango).