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Downtown eatery takes a fresh approach to Mexican fare

Fourth Avenue isn't the most bustling byway in Downtown Pittsburgh. On a recent Tuesday, after a long walk from the North Side, we were surprised to find abundant street parking available (not to mention one sleepy-eyed lot attendant who had but three or four cars to watch over).

The street itself was kind of sleepy just before noon, with just a few pedestrians briskly moving along as chilly temperatures descended on the city.

But warmth was nearby in the form of Madonna's Authentic Mexican Food, in the Times Building. For nine years, proprietor Mario Moussa has been serving tacos, burritos and other fare with this proviso: "Absolutely everything is fresh," he says.

So it is. We chose a taco with sauteed vegetables bursting from its seams. It's a handful to eat but, at $2.99, a bargain. Hungry folks might want to choose a twofer deal, with two tacos for $5.89, be they grilled chicken, steak, beef or the restaurant's signature fish tacos.

The burritos are of a similarly impressive girth, resembling mini-torpedoes (even though we had the chico version, not the grande). For $4.99, we chose the grilled chicken, and split it between two co-workers. The grande version, at $5.99, seems unfathomable. Like the tacos, they come in steak, ground beef, fish, BBQ chicken and grilled chicken varieties, all at the same price.

The quesadillas are not typical of the ones served in chain restaurants. Our steak quesadilla (the chico version, at $3.99), is touted as a flour tortilla folded over melted jack cheese. Our taste tester said she could "hardly find the cheese for the huge quantity of meat. In fact, I think I've had steak hoagies with less steak. Very tasty, though."

We also were enticed by the Nacho Supremo ($5.49), a mound of crisp corn chips with cheddar and jack cheeses, fresh salsa and gobs of guacamole and sour cream. Simply too much of a good thing.

Although we got our victuals for takeout, there's a nice, cozy vibe at Madonna's Authentic Mexican Food. There are eight four-seat tables and a counter with seating for eight.

Additional Information:

Madonna's Authentic Mexican Food

Location: 336 Fourth Ave., Downtown

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Closed Saturdays and Sundays

Details: 412-281-4686

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