Every morning, except Monday, Jose Flores and Jazmin Hernandez fill the Panadería Jazmin display case with an eye-catching array of at least 25 varieties of pan dulce. In September, the couple opened their Mount Lebanon bakery, possibly the Pittsburgh area’s first panadería, after selling their sweet treats at area farmers’ markets for nearly three years.
“You can see all the beautiful breads, all the different flavors. Everything looks so pretty when it’s together, ”says Flores as he replenishes the briefcase at midday.
There are the conchas, the soft shell-shaped bread that is a signature of Mexican bakeries; crispy, ear-shaped and crispy orejas; bigote in the shape of a crescent and sprinkled with sugar; fruta empanadas stuffed with jelly; soft and braided trenza and, for Dia de los Muertos, pan de muerto flavored with orange blossom. In addition to the stacks of pan dulce, there is a handful of salted bread like the bolillo and baguette. Even with a face covering, I found the aromas of sugar, hot wheat, cinnamon, cocoa and anise intoxicating as I opened the glass partition to stack my selections on a serving platter.
Flores and Hernandez are from the Toluca area, Mexico, where Hernandez’s family has operated a bakery for almost 40 years. Flores got into cooking in 2017 by making queso cubes at home (you can find the sweet and savory mini cheesecakes on the far left of the Panadería Jazmin display). To better learn the craft of pan dulce, he worked in the family bakery and in a few shops in Toluca. After that, Flores and Hernandez operated a specialty bakery in their hometown for about a year before immigrating to the United States. They visited a sister in North Carolina and an uncle in California, but it was a stop to see a friend in Pittsburgh who convinced them this is where they wanted to stay. “We just loved this place,” says Flores.
Everything in the display case is prepared fresh daily – the duo cooks and usually starts their day at 2 a.m. Some pastries, like palmera and sweet empanadas, are made from puff pastry.
Flores and Hernandez have over 60 varieties of pan dulce in their repertoire – most of them come from the traditional panadería canon, although some are family recipes, and they work on their own creations. I’ve tried nine so far, and want to know more.
And don’t overlook these bolillos; these rolls are some of the best breads I have had in Pittsburgh for both pressed and toasted sandwiches.
300 Beverly Road, Mount Lebanon; 412 / 207-8457, instagram.com/panaderiajazminpgh
What do you get when a restaurant with “hamburger” in its name is a fried chicken joint? An affordable riff on various permutations of crispy, crispy and appetizing poultry.
Squirrel Hill’s signature dish – the hot and spicy crispy thigh burger – is a prime example of why this is such an exciting opening. The sandwich features a juicy, well-seasoned chicken thigh, twice breaded in wheat flour, deep-fried to perfection and topped with shredded lettuce and a white garlic sauce, all in a fluffy chocolate bun. Sesame seeds. It’s a pretty dreamy version of a fast food fried chicken sandwich, especially when adding one of the optional sauces.
98K Hamburger is the fifth storefront for a New York-based chain and the first location outside of Brooklyn and Queens. The fact that the outpost is in Squirrel Hill reinforces the idea that the neighborhood has become one of the most exciting areas outside of New York City and the San Francisco Bay area for Chinese food in the United States. during the last years. In the past year or so, the neighborhood has added Yue Bai Wei, Jian’s Kitchen, Dagu Rice Noodle, and Tsaocaa to an already established list of regional and Pan-Chinese restaurants (including four of Pittsburgh Magazine’s top restaurants).
Franchise co-owner Selina Zheng said her aunt, co-owner Xiaoban Zheng, wanted to open a 98K in Pittsburgh after eating at one of the stores in New York City.
“The flavors reminded him of some of his favorite fast food restaurants in China,” Zheng says. “There was no Chinese fast food like this around here. So we thought we could open it.
The Zhengs met with 98K owner Junhao Li, who visited Pittsburgh and agreed the city had promise as an outpost for his small chain. They then spent time training in New York City, where they developed a menu for the Pittsburgh site (each 98K has slightly different menus).
Even though the Pittsburgh restaurant has a smaller menu than New York restaurants, there’s still plenty to grab the first few times you go. I suggest starting with one of the sandwiches. From there, examine bone-in pieces such as the wings and legs; crispy and juicy, they are exactly what you would expect from a piece of fried chicken. I loved the subtle seasoning of the Szechuan chicken fillet and the crust of the crispy, salted chicken, which is also sprinkled with potato starch before frying.
The sides could use a little work. On my first visit the fries tasted like they had only blanched the fries and had not received a second fry needed to make them crisp before serving; they were slightly better on my next visit but, while chicken tops any other fast food in town, fries still wouldn’t come out of the bottom third. Another side, the macaroni and cheese, was endearing for lunch. Would love to see a veg option beyond a simple garden salad (vegetarians, you won’t share my 98K enthusiasm).
And yes… there is a hamburger on the menu. It’s a very good one too. The beef patty has a denser mouth feel than a standard American fast food burger. Still, it’s quite tasty and, dressed with lettuce, mayonnaise, American cheese, and a surprisingly perfect slice of tomato (no guarantee that will hold past tomato season), I would take it on most. fast food chains.
The good thing is that pretty much everything is affordable (all sandwiches and wraps, for example, are under $ 10), so feel free to mix and match. This is because the best way to navigate the menu is to jump in and see what you like. There are also various meal sets and mix and match options. Overall, this is an exciting addition to my favorite Pittsburgh food court.
5867, avenue Forbes, Colline des Écureuils; 412 / 258-1280, 98k-hamburger.business.site
Täkō Bakery Square
Last week, the Richard DeShantz restaurant group opened their latest restaurant, täkō Bakery Square. It may be a derivative of the popular täkō that opened Downtown in 2014, but it’s a very different restaurant from the original.
The Bakery Square space is much more airy than its brooding downtown counterpart – here it’s over 5,000 square feet of high-ceiling space with a jungle of houseplants (natural and plastic), warm wood tones and crisp white walls. The service is quick and relaxed. Head to the counter at the back right of the restaurant, place your order, sit down and you will receive a text when it is time to collect your food from the allocated storage room. It’s a little impersonal, but it shakes things up, especially in this age of understaffed restaurants.
The energy was at its peak when I visited on Saturday night.
Täkō Bakery Square’s greatly expanded menu includes a wide range of entrees, tacos, tortas, a huge section of build-your-own bowls, and desserts (for comparison, the downtown location currently matters. nine tacos and two desserts on the menu).
The DIY bowls look like a significant difference from the hip downtown restaurant built around Mexican-Japanese fusion tacos, but they’re a smart choice for Bakery Square. You start by choosing a base of grains, greens, or rice, select a main ingredient from a list that includes carnitas, chorizo, and maitake mushrooms, add seasoned vegetables such as grilled carrots with a salad dressing. guajillo and pasteur cauliflower marinated in adobo and the top is all off with a selection of cheeses, toppings, dressings and crispy things. I had mine with cereal (a good mix of chickpeas, farro, quinoa and amaranth), seasoned roast chicken and a bunch of supplements and found the whole bowl to be an all-round feel-good meal. makes delicious (enough for two people, really).
I also loved the texture and layered flavors of my Milanese torta. The sandwich included a crispy pork cutlet, black bean hummus, sriracha aioli, red cabbage, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, and pickled red onion, all in a pressed roll; Can’t wait to try the other two torta dishes on the menu.
As with all RDRG establishments, the bar program at täkō Bakery Square is well designed. Indeed, with its superb lists of cocktails, margarita, mezcal and tequila, this is where you will find the most similarities with downtown täkō.
Even on a busy opening weekend, things went smoothly. Partly that’s because they’re a systems-driven group of restaurants that a decade later know how to design a stable workflow. But it’s also an opening on deck for everything, with top chefs from all RDRG restaurants in the kitchen and partners Tolga Sevdik and Kevin Kelley jostling each other in front of the house.
I hope that the quality of the food and the ease of service will continue once everyone returns to their respective restaurants. If they succeed, täkō Bakery Square seems like a solid addition to Pittsburgh’s fast and casual dining options.
120 Boul. Bakery, Larimer; 412 / 866-8256, takobksq.com