I’ve long suspected my reticence to eat Mexican food stemmed from my senior year at Point Park College—and specifically those two long semesters of Spanish.
While my declared major was journalism and mass communication, my undeclared major was Shots and Beers. Hey, a wise man once said there’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called college. Despite the partying that went along with being newly 21 and soon-to-be graduated, I was earning no less than B grades in all of my classes.
All, of course, except Spanish II. In that class, I was hovering dangerous close to the F mark. And because it was a mandatory course, if I failed it, I wouldn’t walk. Always a fan of pointing out the proverbial elephant in the room, I stayed after class one day and told the teacher the truth:
“I know I’m doing terrible. Are you going to fail me?"
And I will never forget her response:
“I’d never fail an outgoing senior. And I see your byline, so I know you’re doing SOMETHING. Besides, there are some people who just are not capable of learning a foreign language. And I think you’re one of them.”
Embarrassing? Yes. But it was the God’s honest truth. But I haven’t been able to look at a taco the same way again.
That brings us to my most recent Journalism Adventure with Candy: This time to dish on the fish (tacos) at Southpointe’s own Los Chiludos.
Or, you may also call this column ‘The One Where Amanda Totally Redeemed Herself.”
After ordering an obscene amount of food (which included shrimp tacos, fish tacos, a spinach enchiladas, as well as chips with a cornucopia of different salsas), I admitted to Candy that I’ve never really been into this sort of cuisine.
But then the food came—everything looking almost two colorful and pretty to eat.
While the shrimp tacos were tasty, the amount of onions turned me off, and while the fish tacos were a treat, they weren’t my favorite. For me, it was those spinach enchiladas that made the meal.
The crisp, spicy spinach paired perfectly with the tortilla and red sauce that pulled it all together.
The mere freshness of the ingredients (we were assured everything was made fresh right there at the Southpointe Boulevard eatery) and the uber-friendly nature of the staff convinced me immediately that I’d be back again for lunch or another late-Friday night supper.
When we left, I couldn’t help feel somewhat vindicated. While I might never learn the Spanish language, at least I learned how to appreciate some of the flavors inherent to the culture.
I didn’t know what to expect when Amanda told me we were going south of the border for this week’s fish.
During the semester she was editor of our college newspaper I was asked to be baptized in a tin bathtub—in the soul of an Oakland basement—to expose a religious cult on campus. So the possibility of needing a passport to serve a weekly column didn’t seem like a stretch to me.
Thankfully, a Mexican restaurant in Southpointe was as far across the Allegheny County border as I had to go. Our dining spot was Los Chiludos, which flanks a small plaza at 325 Southpointe Blvd. in Cecil.
I hoped that a restaurant name which translates to “the big pepper” wouldn’t be light on flavor, and Los Chiludos didn’t disappoint. Starting with three salsas we sampled, our taste buds were sent on an authentic, Mexican adventure. The ranchero salsa was mild and flavorful with plenty of cilantro to spare. The chunky mango salsa was delicious and offered a taste of spring. But a smokey chipotle was my favorite. If offered a lot of flavor and a little spice.
With that combination, what’s not to like?
The sampling of salsas was followed by an array of seafood served on corn tortillas, and spinach enchiladas next to uncommonly good rice and pinto beans.
Cod fish tacos were topped with red cabbage, mango salsa and chipotle Dijon sauce, and included sides of rice and pinto beans for $8.95. Shrimp tacos were topped with red cabbage, cilantro and onion, and included sides of rice and pinto beans for $10. And spinach enchiladas were topped with fresco cheese, red salsa and sour cream, while also served with rice and pinto beans for $7.85.
Everything was memorable, but the spinach enchiladas are what I’ll recommend to friends and what will inspire me to go back. The zesty spinach paired with the soft tortilla and robust salsa coalesced into the perfect bite.
It didn’t hurt that everything was served with a smile, which is a tall order when serving Amanda and me. We’ve reached the point where we apologize in advance upon walking in. Undoubtedly, every dinner involves us speaking loudly while communicating on no less than four devices—three phones and one laptop.
That the staff at Los Chiludos was so hospitable was much appreciated and not unnoticed. Not only will I recommend it to Friends, I will go back. Because at Los Chiludos, it doesn’t need to be Lenten season to enjoy the fish tacos.