Editor’s Note: in the interest of promoting independent Pittsburgh restaurants, artists, musicians, small businesses and more, the Pittsburgh Independent will publish recurring weekly content intended to bring attention to things you may enjoy, starting with our Sammich of the Week. Use the hashtag #PIsammichOTW to let us know a sammich that deserves some shine. (And maybe follow us on instagram.)
Every time somewhere beloved closes on Carson Street, the detractors say that South Side isn’t like it used to be. It’s not cool anymore. And then something new and unexpected pops up to take its place, and life continues.
South Side has seen an influx of new Latin American restaurants in recent years that have not only survived the pandemic but expanded to open second locations, like The Colombian Spot, or food trucks, like Cilantro & Ajo. This casual Venezuelan spot one block over from the Tenth Street Bridge takes its name from the cilantro and garlic sauce that accompanies their empanadas, arepas, parrillas and more.
This place has a few different arepas — hearty corn meal patties stuffed with tender meat, cheese, plantains, avocado, or beans. If you can dream it, you can stuff it inside an arepa.
One stands out among the rest: “La Maracucha,” the one “from Maracaibo,” is a deep-fried arepa split in two then filled with shredded pork, avocado, cilantro/garlic sauce, and fried cheese. It’s filling, flavorful, affordable, and finger-licking good. It’s just the type of sammich we want to spotlight with our #PIsammichOTW.
- #PIsammichOTW: La Maracucha
- Location: Cilantro & Ajo. (Also available at the Cilantro & Ajo food truck.)
- Address: 901 East Carson Street, South Side.
- Cost: $7.99
- Menu Description: “A deep fried arepa filled with fried cheese, roasted pork, avocado, and cilantro and garlic sauce.”
- Vegan alternative: The “vegana” is made with black beans, sweet plantain, and avocado, for $6.99.
He is a 2x 2023 Western PA Press Club Golden Quill award winner, in feature and business reporting. And a 3x finalist in the investigative reporting category.
He is a 2018 first prize winner in environmental reporting from the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on lead in Pittsburgh’s drinking water.
In 2022 and 2021, he was awarded a grant from The Gumshoe Group to support his investigative reporting.