As you walk down Avenue Meyran, the hanging lights of the cantina and the bright yellow garden chairs outside make Baby loves Thunderdome tacos glow. Inside, groovy music, quirky art, and quirky decor combine to create a culturally and community-driven space, according to owner Gary Musisko.
Musisko opened the restaurant just over a month ago with help from Zack Shell, owner of the original. Baby loves tacos in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Musisko said the Thunderdome’s unusual name matches the unusual aesthetic he created, which differs from Shell’s establishment.
“This one is called Thunderdome because we jokingly called it that and it was just too stupid not to use it,” Musisko said. “It just doesn’t make sense that a taco restaurant is called Thunderdome. Plus, much of this place doesn’t make sense in terms of aesthetics as a taco place.
Musisko worked with his friend for about two and a half years before opening the restaurant, and he said he had learned everything he knew about cooking from Shell.
“Wisdom uses someone else’s intelligence and skills,” Musisko said. “I can say it’s a wise decision to use Zack’s recipes and cooking ideas because he’s the best, and I think he’s a genius. I wrote a review on Yelp [about the Bloomfield restaurant] That said, “Not only are these the best tacos in Pittsburgh, but they are the best tacos I have ever had in my life. ”
The Thunderdome offers plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. According to Musisko, the current fan favorite is Gordita Crunch, which is a giant burrito with fries and a homemade queso rolled inside for $ 15. The nachos are big, fancy, and elaborate for $ 11. Customers can order three mix and match tacos for $ 11.
Annie Makepeace, a Thunderdome employee, said she appreciated the flexibility of the restaurant’s menu and even made her own special order.
“I also make a mini burrito bowl with a bit of crisps and a bit of queso, cauliflower and chicken,” Makepeace said.
Makepeace said spices shouldn’t be a problem – everyone can enjoy the restaurant.
“If you can’t handle your spice, we’ll take care of you,” Makepeace said. “But if you are curious about spices or adventurous about spices, we will take you on a trip and you are in good hands.”
Going forward, Thunderdome plans to have fish and seafood specialties in addition to its current protein specialties. According to Musisko, a lot of people love the breast, which makes it difficult for him to keep it in stock. They also have homemade drinks, like beetroot and lime juice. The restaurant has its new horchata this week, which can be served hot or cold.
Along with their menu, the environment itself adds to the overall mood. With the help of her mother, Colleen Musisko – carpenter, bricklayer, plumber, electrician, roofer and tiler – Musisko hand-built everything in the restaurant, from stairs and railings to pillars and bars.
To decorate the restaurant, Musisko hung works by mostly local artists. All over the walls there are many different pieces that fall under the genre “Art from the outside”, which Musisko says is art created by people who are not part of the “art establishment”.
To get more involved in the community, Baby Loves Tacos Thunderdome hosts live music from local artists on Saturday nights, such as Poster Child. Musisko plans to perform one-act plays on Sunday, which will hopefully involve students from local universities.
Musisko has spent a lot of time cultivating the restaurant’s “French vampirism” aesthetic, and said the 20-year-old romantic spirit inspired the colors and vibes.
“I think the mind of a 20-year-old is a really romantic mind, regardless of how busy everyone is with their homework,” Musisko said. “I think it’s just a very important spirit, so I wanted it to look like this.”
Jennifer Mytych, a sophomore psychology student, said the general atmosphere was cool and inviting.
“The vibe was very groovy,” Mytych said. “The live music and the decorations really added to the relaxing atmosphere.”
According to Musisko, Baby Loves Tacos Thunderdome invites students and locals to share their art, which promotes culture throughout the Oakland community. He said the restaurant strives to be as beneficial to the community as possible through positivity.
“We just want to be useful and we want to be dynamic and we want to have a positive impact on the people around us,” Musisko said. “And so we created a space, and even though it’s just a humble little space, we definitely want to be involved in the community.”