If I were to describe my eating experience at the latest “authentic” Mexican Restaurant to pop up downtown, this one being Cocina de Mexico I would carefully choose my words, and those words would be “Ew.” and “Huh?” Cocina is located on Smithfield, just down from the fur shop and directly across from Wiener World.
From what I can tell the owners are Asian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but really, could a Mexican open an “authentic” Chinese restaurant? Could an American open an “authentic” Ethiopian restaurant? I guess they could try, but damn, they shouldn’t.
The waiter … and no, that’s not a typo … one waiter for 20 tables of lunch goers, definitely was hired because he looks Mexican. However, when my dining partner orders the “Pollo en salsa verde” (that’s what the menu says) and the waiter goes, “Huh?”, I doubt he’s Mexican. And when you point to the item on the menu after saying it three times, and the waiter mispronounces every word you just said, you KNOW he’s not Mexican. (Pollo is pronounced po-yo, NOT polo as in Marco Polo.)
In addition, that ONE waiter pissed off lots of people because who wants to wait ten minutes before their drink order is taken? I had to. And how about when he comes to your table to take your order, but he forgot his order pad and on his way to the kitchen to get it gets stopped by other customers, and then on his way back to your table, he delivers food to other tables, clears their plates, etc.? Sucks. So it took fifteen minutes before we even got our drinks. I saw three parties come in, get tired of waiting, and just up and leave.
The food? Meh. Nothing special. Very salty. Lots of shredded lettuce. I swear the tortilla soup is Egg Drop Soup without eggs and with tortilla strips. Same broth. No lie. The tortilla chips are as stale as three month old bread, but they are served warmed up. There’s no fooling PittGirl by warming up old chips. Please.
I ordered the Mexican Voodoo Chicken Wrap (that’s what the menu says). It is a huge 12 inch tortilla stuffed with massive amounts of lettuce, some onions, big chunks of chicken, and this weird sweet salsa (Sweet and Sour maybe?). They also have a Pittsburgh wrap that is steak and cheese and french fries smushed into a wrap.
I have Mexican friends; I lived in Mexico for two months; I went to the restaurant with a Mexican; I know authentic mexican food and THIS is not it.
I put it on about the same level as Mexico City on Smithfield. Meh. Best part? There is a sticker on the door that says it was voted as the AOL City Guide’s best Mexican in the city. Huh? Then why can’t I find it listed on AOL anywhere? A little help?