Photo by Kristy Locklin.

With its neon signs and colorful murals, Doce Taqueria is making McKnight Road look a little bit like the Las Vegas Strip.

“We want to blow the corporate feel away with this place,” owner Andy Balint tells us.

The fast-casual restaurant will open next month, bringing West Coast-style tacos to the North Hills. Located in a former Boston Market, the 1,290-square-foot building has seating for 100 patrons inside and out.

In comparison, Doce Taqueria’s original location on East Carson Street is only 240 square feet. The company also runs the adjacent Twelve Whiskey BBQ and Doce Taqueria truck, and has plans to launch another low-rider version of the mobile eatery next year.

While the business is rapidly changing, food and flavor quality are constants. And the eatery is a family affair.

Photo courtesy of Doce Taqueria.

Balint and his brother, Executive Chef Alex Balint, grew up in the food industry. Their dad ran a catering company and continues to smoke all of the meats sold in the restaurants.

At the South Side location, carnitas with slow-smoked pulled pork, Mexican slaw and farmer’s cheese is a lunchtime favorite. The new spot boasts its own on-site smoker.

In addition to tacos, nachos, vegetarian options and street corn (delivered each day from Evans City, Pa., when it’s in season), the new Doce Taqueria will serve Don Julio margaritas, several Mexican draft beers, rotating local beers on tap and signature drinks made with south-of-the-border sodas and local products.

Another detail that may please North Hills diners who visit the new location: There are no televisions. The Balint brothers want people to come in, chow down and just soak up the edgy L.A.-inspired interior design, which was all handmade in Pennsylvania.

Local artists Sean Coffey and John Maurice Muldoon added their artistic touches to the walls, while Valencia-based sign company Thomas Neon created the electric works of art.

Everyone involved with the restaurant’s management, including Director of Operations Christie Cercone, grew up in and around the North Hills, making this property a perfect fit.

But eventually, other neighborhoods may get their own versions: Andy Balint says Doce 2.0 will serve as the aesthetic model for future taquerias he wants to open throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.