Question: What do you get when you combine an Irish bar tradition, a Mexican restaurant and an ad hoc American shopping holiday?
Answer: Black Friday at , which is Dormont business-owner/chef Theo Giannoutsos’ way of adding some flavor to a familiar scene.
Located on the corner of West Liberty and Hillsdale avenues in Dormont, Mexi-Casa has been tagged “Pittsburgh’s Least Authentic Mexican Restaurant” for its playful and delicious take on Tex-Mex barbecue dishes.
Since Giannoutsos opened Mexi-Casa’s doors in 2003, the menu has evolved and expanded to feature a variety of Americanized Mexican dishes, and Mexicanized American dishes, some of which contain ingredients you don’t typically see encased in a tortilla.
From traditional items like fajitas, tacos and cheese quesadillas to barbecued favorites like ribs and wings, patrons are sure to find something to please their palates.
Out-of-the-ordinary offerings include the Acapulco Burrito (pulled pork, grilled pineapple, Mexi-Casa sauce, lettuce, rice and cheese), the Mediterranean Quesadilla (cheddar, feta cheese and black olives), and the Frito Pie (Frito chips and chili layered in a bowl, topped with cheese and sour cream).
Mexi-Casa’s comprehensive and unique menu demonstrates Giannoutsos’ creativity, passion and commitment to his customers. It’s his goal to serve large portions of great food at affordable prices, he said.
Giannoutsos, who worked at Reyna’s in Mount Lebanon for three years before starting his own business, extends his priority to please beyond what’s listed on the menu. All of the burritos and quesadillas can be made-to-order at each customer’s discretion.
So if you don’t want “this” or want some of “that,” Giannoutsos will hook you up—and he’ll do so right in front of you. A grill, oven and other kitchen appliances are located out in the open, behind the wooden bar, allowing customers to watch Giannoutsos as he sautés, flips and folds their food.
Normally, patrons have to wait until 4 p.m. on weekdays to get their hands on Giannoutsos’ delectable dishes. Black Friday, however, was an exception to this rule.
Mexi-Casa opened at 8 a.m. on Friday for a Kegs & Eggs celebration of food and spirits. Giannoutsos offered a special short menu of Tex-Mex breakfast dishes featuring breakfast burritos.
The menu items may have been different than what’s offered daily, but the careful preparation and huge portions of food remained the same. Giannoutsos told us that he weighed his first burrito of the day, and it weighed in at 24 ounces.
That’s a pound and a half of eggs, grilled onions and peppers, homefries and cheese, joined by a choice of meet, inside a warm tortilla.
I sat down to tackle this mammoth meal myself, taking on the chorizo breakfast burrito. The spicy chorizo balanced perfectly against the rich eggs, which also provided a smooth and fluffy textural contrast to the crisp homefries and crunchy grilled onions and peppers.
The burrito was anything but boring. It provided my tastebuds with the nice spice I craved after the mellow tones of Thanksgiving dinner the night before.
Numerous patrons expressed the same sentiment, saying that they came out to the Kegs & Eggs to enjoy a flavorful post-Thanksgiving meal. Some customers stopped in after their Black Friday shopping, and others came out solely to dine on something different.
Dormont resident Larry Fosareta, who is a regular at Mexi-Casa, said that he and his family woke up early for the special breakfast. Neither he nor his kin did any Black Friday shopping. For them, Black Friday was all about hitting their favorite eatery for special menu items.
In addition to the foodstuffs, Mexi-Casa’s Kegs & Eggs menu also featured some festive adult beverages. Decadent drafts made the short menu list, alongside flavorful cocktails specifically concocted for Black Friday by bartender Ali Wyrostek, who works as an adjunct professor at West Moreland Community College when she isn’t slinging shots for Giannoutsos.
When asked how, or why, he came up with the idea for a Kegs & Eggs event on Black Friday, Giannoutsos explained that he’d held the restaurant’s very first Kegs & Eggs on St. Patrick’s Day this year. The event was so successful, he said, that he decided to carry it over to Black Friday.
“We opened at 8 a.m. (on St. Patrick’s Day), and every seat was filled by 8:30,” Giannoutsos noted. “The customers loved it, and kept asking us to do it again.
“It’s all about giving the customers what they want.”
Giannoutsos strives to give customers what they want every business day, not just during special events. Customers pack into the joint on Mondays for $5 burritos and $3 house margaritas, and come back to enjoy other drink specials throughout the week.
For more information on Mexi-Casa, its menu and daily specials, visit the Mexi-Casa webpage—or, better yet, stop in the restaurant, at 3001 West Liberty Avenue, and order a meal you won’t soon forget!