When I first moved to Bloomfield, a local told me I had to check out the “taco speakeasy” down the road. This concept certainly piqued my interest.
A restaurant on Liberty Avenue was making tacos “for donations” while awaiting permits, she explained. Some called it a several month “pop-up,” some called it a long-term “soft opening.” “Taco speakeasy” is my favorite description, and possibly the most accurate. Baby Loves Tacos signed a lease for an open storefront on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield nearly a year ago. When the wait for permits took longer than expected, the owner decided to do things his way.
I was prompted to look for dimmed lights under a sign that read “Jim’s Wraps and Salads.” A slightly ajar door served as a signal the restaurant was open for business. Posts on the Baby Loves Tacos Instagram account informed followers of the daily hours and menu.
Before I ever made it to the “taco speakeasy,” WTAE article reported the Allegheny County Health Department ordered the restaurant to close for operating without a valid permit. Just one week later, Baby Loves Tacos was fully inspected, permitted and officially open for business in January 2018.
I finally had a chance to taste the tacos just after the old “Jim’s Wraps and Salads” sign was replaced with an official glowing invitation.
I selected three tacos from the menu, hand-drawn overtop a menu from the neighboring restaurant, China House. I had the option of ordering my food to-go or standing and eating at a counter bar. The cozy ambiance (while not great for food photography) enticed me to stay. I knew there was more to see if I stuck around.
It became clear that everyone else in the restaurant knew each other—but it didn’t feel like that one hipster bar where no one will pass you the microphone during karaoke because you’re not part of the regular crowd. I immediately felt welcome. The owner, Zachary Shell, made a point of chatting with each customer. It felt warm and inviting, like a dinner party at a friend’s house. Baby Loves Tacos maintained its intimate atmosphere even after a line formed out the door.
After scrolling past dozens of tacos on Instagram during the opening week, I worried I might be disappointed when I finally tasted the food at Baby Loves Tacos. I can now assure you that all the buzz is warranted. These tacos are fantastic. I’m not usually a fan of corn tortillas, but these shells were the best I’ve ever had. It’s tough to pick a favorite from the chicken, chorizo and buffalo cauliflower tacos I sampled, but if you can only try one I’d recommend the chorizo.
I’m excited to officially welcome Baby Loves Tacos to the neighborhood. I see many tacos in my future.
Be sure to follow Baby Loves Tacos on Instagram for more information, adorable doodles and clever captions.