The Kitchen Post

As I sit here looking over my pork-embellished “Taco Tuesday” travelogue, the sultry aromas of this week’s encounter almost fill my nostrils. The Kitchen Post in Struthers was our obvious choice this week when looking for a tantalizing joint serving up tacos. I can’t even tell you how many people have mentioned this local hidden gem to us recently. You can almost miss this charming eatery tucked away on Youngstown-Poland road. The restaurant is small, yet cozy. It has a very eclectic use of different textures, patterns, and colors. It gives you a hometown feel with a big city vibe. My favorite aspect of the restaurant’s aesthetic was the use of denim cushions for the booth backs.Continuing, the staff that waited on us was very friendly and helpful with menu choices. The menu is short and handwritten which is always a good sign because it means that it changes often. They do a simple Taco Tuesday deal— three tacos for nine dollars. These are not your average tacos however. They have a cultural array of fillings from chorizo to fried catfish and tater tots (yes, I said tater tots). We ordered every taco on the menu except the adobo flavored chicken option. They were all outstanding. Each one was unique and flavorful. They had a fantastic use of classic seasoning with a touch of modern flare. As far as food preparation is concerned, a few identifying marks stood out. First and foremost, it was quick. When dealing with Mexican cuisine there is no reason to have a long wait. Most of the proteins used in tacos are ones that take hours to prepare and should be ready at hand. Something else that grabbed my attention was the delicate display of the cilantro sprigs. Every taco had a small crown of fresh cilantro. This is almost a requirement when serving Mexican food because it is a perfect refreshing foil to the deep savory tones of the proteins involved. What I loved most was that I noticed a cook in the back hand plucking each sprig with care. This is essential when dealing with fresh herbs. You can lose tons of flavor and bruise the herb if not handled gently.I feel I must name our top taco choices. To start, my number one was the brisket taco. The meat literally melted in my mouth and I could tell the brisket was treated with love and care. It had an interesting choice of cheese with a marriage of feta. The saltiness of the feta rivaled with the savories of the braised meat. My second favorite had to be the catfish taco. The protein was fried to perfection with a beautiful light and flaky texture. Usually mahi is my go-to when making fish tacos at home because it has a less fishy flavor, however, the catfish was a delectable choice. Also, whenever I make fish tacos I tend to gravitate towards a fruit salsa, usually something with mango and pineapples. The Kitchen Post went another route. They used a fresh slaw and a chipotle mayo. This coupled with the fried fish gave it a perfect southwestern soul food flavor. My fem fatale had high regards for the pulled pork taco. Her tortilla envelope had slow roasted pork adorned with pepper jack cheese and mustard BBQ. The spiciness of the cheese mellowed by the unique composite BBQ sauce created a virtual flavor explosion.My only negative note (and my counterpart concurs) was that of the chips and queso. The duo seemed almost out of place compared to the well-prepared tacos. They were clearly bagged chips coupled with store bought queso, or so it seemed. This confused us because everything else seemed so intentional. A freshly fried tortilla chip with a splash of a hand-squeezed lime and seasoned with salt would have been a perfect accompaniment to the rest of our Mexican staples. While the chips and queso may have been lacking, everything else was unique, whimsical and personal. We loved the feel of the small space and the comfort that the food provided. It was a perfect stop at a local hometown hero.

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