More Pilo Please

Updated: Apr 12

It might have gotten a new, larger location, but it only means that more people can come into the warmth and homeyness that is Pilo’s Tacos. By more people, owner Derek Gonzalez is looking into the thousands.

“I want to employ 4,000 individuals with disabilities over the next five years,” he said laughing. “I know it’s a lofty goal, but it just means we have to work.”


The taco restaurant partners with Best Buddies to hire people with disabilities in honor of the woman in Derek’s life that inspired the restaurant’s name: Aunt Pilo. As a woman with Down syndrome, she would call everyone ‘pilo’ until the word became her nickname.


“I want her and what she stands for to be the face of this place,” Gonzalez said. “I want to create an environment with authentic food and an authentic mission.”


It’s hard not to love the environment when one of his employees keeps tugging at Gonzalez’s shirt saying, “I love you!” Both my heart and stomach are full.


As for the food, the place is still as great as Brickell is – which is no surprise. My favorite dish was the Flauta 305 because it’s soft, has salsa verde, and it’s perfectly filling. El Mariachi was really fresh and doesn’t make you feel gross after eating.

If you’re a vegetarian or pescatarian, I’d recommended the Cactus Taco as another unique option besides the usual no-meat taco. With the cactus meat, it feels like you’re eating something beyond vegetables and a tortilla.


As for the alcohol, you’ll find more variety at the South Beach location. With a full bar capacity, Gonzalez hopes to fill it up with mezcal and other authentic Mexican alcohol. Don’t even try to ask for Bud Light here. (FYI: Happy hour is from 4-7 p.m. with $4 beer, $4.50 margaritas)

The biggest difference between the Brickell and South Beach location, is the new place should be your next spot after a night out or a long beach day. While Brickell is more of a ‘come get your lunch and go back to work,’ here in South Beach, you can hang out, watch a game on the television, and enjoy the colorful cow head overlooking the bar.


“As we keep expanding, the goal is to make it national,” Gonzalez said. “And definitely to make sure it doesn’t lose its authenticity.”


Expect another Pilo’s Tacos to open up in Wynwood as he achieves many of his goals for a restaurant that brings authentic Mexican food to the city we love.


1216 Washington Avenue

Grand opening: Saturday, August 25 with free Mexican beer and appetizers

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