I went to graduate school in New Mexico and had the opportunity to travel to nearby Mexico quite a bit, so I consider myself a bit of a Mexican food expert. When I moved back to the Pittsburgh area, it became my personal challenge to find good, authentic Mexican food. I’m happy to say that Emiliano’s Mexican Restaurant & Bar is one great find in this quest!
I have learned not to judge a restaurant by its outside, strip-mall exterior. As often as not, you step inside and are instantly transported into a lovely setting as is the case with the Richland location of Emiliano’s.
It also has a bar area for just drinks and snacks [although you can order a meal there].
Contemporary with a Mexican theme –- a nice, friendly atmosphere with plenty of seating welcomes you when you walk in the door. As I stated earlier, don’t let the strip-mall exterior fool you.
Of course Emiliano’s has margaritas, with drink specials daily. [I must admit that I have never had a margarita in Mexico though and they were never featured on the menus as they are here!] Various beers including a couple of Mexican selections, mojitos, sangria and other options are offered. Emiliano's also offers the normal selection of soft drinks, coffee and tea.
This is where I confess my guacamole addiction. I could live on guacamole and nothing else. Seriously. I love Emiliano’s guacamole and even as I write this, I am starting to plan my next fix – and it is only $2.99, but you may want several orders.
The restaurant also offers nachos, the mandatory Mexican appetizer, with all the toppings – I can make a meal out of the guacamole and an order of nachos and still share. Nachos range from $5.99 to $8.99 depending on toppings.
The Salsa Sampler is also a nice choice with its three choices of the restaurant's salsas for only $3.99. Soups, salads and quesadillas round out the selections.
So many entrees, what to chose? My daughter loves the Fajitas Cancun [she loves all fajitas] with shrimps and scallops for $13.99. My son had the soft-shelled three-taco dinner for $10.99, choosing the roasted steak filling although he could have chosen the fish, pork, chicken or sausage fillings as well.
My husband chose the Emiliano’s Special which was a sampler of sorts with a burrito, a tostada, a tamale, an enchilada, a chile relleno and a taco. As if that wasn’t enough food, rice and beans came with it, all for only $13.99.
I chose the Vegetarian Sincronizada, a grilled tortilla sandwich filled with spinach and mushrooms, cheese, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos. It was topped with guacamole salad [yes, more guacamole for me] and a side of rice for only $7.99. The entrees are huge and we had plenty of leftovers.
Fried ice cream has somehow become a Mexican tradition and I love it. The problem is, I never leave any room for it! Emiliano’s offers its version in a crispy shell and my son graciously allowed me a bite - $6. The restaurant has several dessert offerings including Tres Leches Cake for $5; Churros [fried dough sticks] for $6; and the all-time Mexican dessert, sopapillas [fried dough wedges] for $4.
We always have friendly waiters at Emiliano’s and they keep your water and ice tea glasses filled – always a plus in my book.
Address: Richland Mall, 5375 William Flynn Hwy., Gibsonia, 724-443-7778.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.