Silvi’s Southside Kitchen
By: Laura Szafranski
I am a native South Texan who has lived in Pittsburgh for around ten years and while I enjoy the different ethnic foods found here, there is nothing like food from home. And while I am a good cook who can make all the food from home, sometimes you would rather have someone else make it.
My husband, a South Side native, and I are always on the look out for any new Mexican restaurant. For me cause I miss the taste of home, for him because he swears that he would move to Texas just for the food.
A few days ago we read an article about Silvi’s Southside Kitchen. A new Mexican restaurant owned and operated by a fellow Texan. Bingo, I thought, maybe someone who makes food like what I grew up on and crave. So we searched for their website online and found the menu to be what we wanted. But the question was, would it taste like home.
Since I get out of work late on Friday’s it was the perfect time to try Silvi’s out. After circling two blocks between E. Carson and Sarah Street for a bit, we finally found a close parking space. I was excited to try this new restaurant and I hoped that it would, at long last, be what I have been searching for.
When we walked in the door, there were more tables empty than taken, but I never take that into account in a Mexican restaurant. Long ago I learned that there are many people who fear Mexican food based on poor experiences at other restaurants. I had to see for myself.
We seated ourselves at a booth and were soon greeted by a very nice man who turned out to be the owner, Dmitri Avila. He took our drink order while we read the menu (soft drinks only, they are BYOB though). As we read, there was wonderful Mariachi and other Spanish music in the background. Not so loud as you couldn’t hear your dinner partner or even yourself, but just enough for ambiance.
It’s a good menu, not so many items in each sections as to completely confuse you, but enough to give a good variety. As a starter we chose the Chips and Salsa ($2.99). You are given the option of salsa or Pico De Gallo. We chose the salsa and it was wonderful. The chips were fresh from the oil, hot and seasoned just right. Extra crispy and crunchy so beware of falling crumbs on your clothes. The salsa was the perfect blend of spice, tomato, onion and chile. And it had the perfect amount of heat for me, hot. It wasn’t, as my father would call, tomato marmalade.
The rest of the menu has Soups and Salads, Burgers and Sandwiches and Little Bit of Mexico, just the section we were looking for. While I wanted to try everything listed, there was one particular item I really wanted to try, the Carne Guisada ($9.99). I guess the best way to describe Carne Guisada would be the Mexican version of Beef Stroganoff only without noodles and the gravy is spiced with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and tomato sauce and slow cooked for hours so the beef was unbelievably tender. I was in heaven, pure heaven. THIS IS WHAT I WANTED.
While I was mooning over my food, my husband was digging into his Chicken Acapulco ($9.99). A grilled chicken breast coated with cheese sauce and smothered in pepper and onions and topped with Queso Fresco and slices of avocado. And while he wished that the cheese sauce had been a little thicker, he said the chicken was perfectly cooked and heartily dug in with gusto and enjoyed every bit.
All the Mexican entrees come with rice and beans. I know that at many other restaurants these sides can be as boring and plain as paste, but they were wonderful. The rice was seasoned nicely, not just cooked in a tomato base to give it color and was cooked just right, not a mushy red pile on our plates. The pinto beans were homemade and cooked to perfection, not from a can or refried into a soupy mess.
With nothing on the menu over $9.99, this wonderful representation of Mexican food is easily accessible to all.
Through our whole meal, Mr. Avila was the sole person on the floor serving tables as the slowly began to fill up after we arrived. Service began to slow some since he was the only server, but he was always patient and quick to get you anything you needed while he took orders, filled drinks and brought out food, always with a smile and a thank you.
While we ate I asked him what part of Texas he was from. Turns out he grew up 80 miles from my home town. While in Pennsylvania that may seem far, inTexas, that means we are practically neighbors.
With our stomachs pleasantly full and our bill of just under $30 paid, Mr. Avila thanked us for coming and told us to have a good night.
We will most definitely be returning to Silvi’s Southside Kitchen.