Pleasantly surprised by @SteelCactusPgh

Pleasantly surprised by @SteelCactusPgh

By the time we get to Friday, my family is basically too exhausted to function. More often than not, we go out to dinner. And more often than night it is a place where Mr. Beez and I can have a beer, and Baby Beez can be a loud jerk without anyone noticing or caring. Not that we encourage jerk behavior. Sometimes it’s life. And we need food. And we are tired.

I’m running a half marathon next weekend. After an 11 mile group run last weekend, where I assumed there would be water stops, but there were no water stops, so I got no water, I decided it’s time for me to succumb to looking like a dork and plunk down the cash for a fuel belt. So last night I had to stop at the running store to get one. Oh right, and we needed to feed ourselves, and we have a 4 year old, and it was quickly approaching 8pm and we were all hungry and tired.

Steel Cactus to the rescue.

To be honest, I didn’t have expectations one way or another, and enchiladas sounded awesome. Because they ARE awesome. It was still fairly early for the Shadyside crowd, so we got a table right away. It was a generously-sized booth, which was a BIG plus when Baby Beez decided she was tired of destroying the table, and instead wanted to lay down on the seat and suck her thumb (DEAR GOD YES PLEASE BE QUIET CHILD.)

We started with chips and the basic salsa roja. It was nice and garlicky, and the chips were hot and salty. Not gourmet, but we were starving, and the three of us did some serious damage to them in about 5 minutes flat. Our food came out fast, which was also a big plus.


Baby Beez got a cheese quesadilla and a side of rice, because she is boring, 4, and can metabolize carbs way better than us old folks. She refused to eat the rice at first because it wasn’t white and boring, but then Mr. Beez put on his “dad” hat and ordered her to eat a few bites, and she decided she liked the rice enough to eat the whole thing. The quesadilla was exactly as you would expect, which for our purposes was just what we needed at the time, because tired 4 year olds do not do well with new or adventurous things.


I had the verde shredded chicken enchiladas. Usually shredded chicken doesn’t have much flavor, and you mostly taste the sauce or the cheese. Steel Cactus’ shredded chicken was a really nice surprise. Maybe it was rotisserie cooked? I don’t know, but it was very flavorful and had great texture. It was a very nice perk to the dish. The rice and beans were pretty standard for a Mexican restaurant. That shredded chicken, though, caught my attention and I’ll be sure to return for it.


Mr. Beez had some kind of large spicy burrito that also had the shredded chicken. He said it was “good” and he agreed with my thoughts on the shredded chicken. I pressed him for more thoughts on his dish, but he was hungry and tired and mostly wanted me to leave him the eff alone so he could eat in peace. In terms of comparable restaurants, I’d say it’s more like El Campesino or Gran Agave than Mad Mex, although the decor does suggest it’s trying for the Mad Mex attitude.

Final verdict: Steel Cactus is pretty standard for what you’d expect for a casual Mexican food place, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. The shredded chicken was high quality, the service was quick, and we made it through dinner with a tired 4 year old without the other diners hating us. Sounds good to me.
Steel Cactus Mexican Restaurant & Cantina on Urbanspoon

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