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From a taco stand in the Strip to Casa Rasta in Beechview

Beechview’s Broadway Avenue has gained another dining destination with the opening of Casa Rasta, a Caribbean-influenced taco shop and BYOB.  The shop’s owners completed renovations to their exterior earlier this week, and have added an outdoor patio along the avenue.

Chef Antonio Fraga was born in Mexico City, but traveled extensively throughout his country before coming to the United States.  He says through this experience he learned a wide variety of regional Mexican cooking; growing up with his grandmother and mother, Fraga learned hearty home cooking at their side.

And although Jamaican Jerk Chicken tacos might at first sound unusual, if tasty, to some, Fraga says Caribbean influences can be found in many parts of Mexico.  But more than that, Fraga says he wants to show people that you can put whatever you want inside a taco.

“The whole idea of the taco is you grab your tortilla, [put] your favorite food in the middle, and you roll it, eat it, and enjoy it,” he says.

Menu items include cochinita pibil tacos, a marinated pork recipe Fraga grew up with; not-too-spicy Jamaican Jerk wings with mango and avocado salsa; and birria shredded beef tacos.  Past weekend specials have included tinga tostadas, chilaquiles with salsa verde, and spicy curry shrimp tacos.

Fraga says the goal of Casa Rasta is to bring people together over high-quality, affordable food.

"It's food that you share with people that you care [about],” he says.

Last fall, Fraga and wife Laura operated a small taco stand in the Strip District.  There they honed their recipes, and were encouraged to open a full-service shop in Beechview, where the couple lives.

Fraga admits Beechview is still off many people’s radars, but that several new businesses are transforming vacant storefronts into vibrant destinations.  He cites great pizza shops, Italian restaurants, and a growing Mexican community, as contributing to this turnaround.

“This is the neighborhood that hopefully in the future will be my kids' neighborhood too,” Fraga says, “And I’m trying to make it better for everybody.” 

Casa Rasta is open Wednesday through Monday, for lunch and dinner.  2102 Broadway Avenue, Beechview, 15216.  412-223-6106.
 
Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Antonio Fraga
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