Get a Solid First Look at Tako in Downtown Pittsburgh

The owners of two Cultural District hotspots team with another visionary local chef to provide the city with a street-food and quality-drink haven.




PHOTOS BY HAL B. KLEIN
 

Tako, the latest downtown restaurant from Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik (Meat & Potatoes, Butcher and the Rye), opened Tuesday night at 214 Sixth St. Despite the name, this is much more than a taco joint — though you can get those there, too.

DeShantz will run the Tako kitchen with Dave Racicot, formerly of notion.
 


“With his technical aspects and my creative aspects, we’re going to be doing some pretty amazing things,” DeShantz says.

Korean fried rice, one of a handful of dishes that I previewed yesterday, is a fine example of the collaboration between the chefs. Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice is paired with house-cured bacon, kimchi, red dragon sauce and a six-minute egg for a spicy, succulent plate of street food.

Street food, small plates and raw dishes make up a good portion of the menu. Then there are some chef-driven dishes where Racicot’s influence on the menu is most apparent.
 


“English Peas,” for example, is a beautiful plate of food. It’s a bright, palate-cleansing dish where spring peas are elevated by lemon curd, mint oil and white chocolate and then brought back to Earth with a dehydrated shiitake dust. At $7, it’s great value for money.

“We’re really having fun and playing with technique here,” DeShantz says.

There are — of course — tacos. Each comes wrapped in a freshly pressed and toasted flour and lard tortilla (vegetarian tortillas also are available). The list is a mix between classic taqueria (carnitas, al pastor, Baja fish) and global modern (octopus with harissa and preserved lemons, Korean with wagyu short rib and fermented cucumber).
 


Spencer Warren heads the beverage program for all three restaurants; Maggie Meskey will manage the day-to-day operations of the Tako bar program. The bar already is rather impressive, and liquor orders still are coming in: Warren expects there to be between 300-350 bottles of tequila, 100 different mezcals and about 100 rums stocked over the next few months.

Warren and Meskey collaborated on the cocktail list, which is a mix of terrifically prepared familiar (pisco sour, daiquiri, Michelada), spins and a few originals. Watch out for the Ramon’s Gin Fizz — it’s an addictive blend of green tea-infused Tanqueray, avocado, lemon, lime, cream, rose water and mandarin Jarritos. I enjoyed the slightly savory Yellow Jacket from the lengthy margarita list; if you’re looking for something sweet and refreshing, try the Aloe & Elderflower.
 


A solid beer list tilts toward Mexico and Asia, and there is also a very limited selection of wines.

Smart design details are everywhere. Steel grates block the end of the wood and rivet bar so servers can pick up booze orders, but patrons can’t line up and block their access. Those steel grates are echoed in an overhead catwalk that leads to an elevated DJ cage. A huge wallpaper replica of Warhol’s "Last Supper" looms over a wall. Rose-pink-tinted chandeliers are made of bike chains.
 


My first thought after visiting Tako is that I’m ready for hot, sweaty summer nights full of street food, tacos and good booze. Tako looks like it’s going to be a fantastic addition to downtown’s development as a food and drink destination. I hope it delivers on that promise. I’ll have more on the space as it develops.


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Eat & Drink:

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

The turnpike wants to educate drivers to some changes arriving soon at toll booths.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Market Square's Big New Bar is Surprisingly Good

Market Square's Big New Bar is Surprisingly Good

You may not want to be charmed by City Works, but the beer-and-bites spot will likely win you over.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

The university will hold an environmental camp at the end of June.

Comments