Brian Gorder is on a mission to get his Mt. Washington taqueria open by Cinco de Mayo.
After an 18-month delay due to Covid and construction-related red tape, he’s more than ready to serve Mexico City-style munchies at Gordo’s Tacos & Tequila.
Gorder converted the condemned building at 131 Shiloh Street — which once housed a tattoo parlor, a barbershop and apartments — into a two-story restaurant with seating for 150 patrons. The space boasts a courtyard and garage doors that open up to views of Oakland and the South Side. Folks can enjoy dine-in service or order from the front takeout window.
The emphasis will be on braised and smoked meats stacked on a trompo (vertical rotisserie) and thinly sliced by hand. Gorder imports heirloom corn kernels from Oaxaca, Mexico, and grinds them into dough, called masa, to make fresh-pressed tortillas and chips.
“It’s a tortilla like you’ve never had before,” he says. “I plan to make a couple thousand of them every day.”
During this year’s Covid-induced downtime, Gorder worked a few catering jobs and spent many hours in his test kitchen perfecting recipes. So far, his favorite dish is the Barbacoa Taco with banana-leaf-braised beef brisket, queso fresco, salsa borracha, charred tomato and pickled onion.
To start their meal, guests can opt for chips and a variety of dips, including roja and verde salsas and made-to-order guacamole, which can be spiced up with serrano peppers. The menu also has an assortment of appetizers such as crispy hominy, street taters and ribs tossed in a Mezcal barbecue sauce, plus salads, soups and eats for the kiddos.
In addition to tequila and mezcal, Gordo’s will sell Mexican Coke, Jarritos sodas and freshly squeezed juices that will change depending on which fruit is in season. Customers can wash down their grub with flavored, organic seltzer, too.
A South Hills native who studied culinary business at Penn State University, Gorder has been planning the taco joint for more than four years. Several weeks ago, he launched a Honeycomb Credit campaign to help him make the long-awaited dream a reality. He’s raised more than 70% of his $75,000 goal.
Gorder soon hopes to see a taco in the hand of everyone marveling at the Pittsburgh skyline.
Taco ‘bout a grand view.