Weekdays in Pittsburgh

I’m gonna be in Pittsburgh from Tuesday until Friday night, staying in East Allegheny, and would appreciate some recommendations.

I went to CMU in the late 90s, and except for Polish food (recommendations?), Pamela’s pancakes, and the atmosphere of the Church Brew Works, there’s nothing I’m nostalgic for (RIP Sree’s). Bill Addison called Pittsburgh the Country’s Next Destination Food Town, so I’m looking forward to experiencing what’s new and good, or classic and better than I remember. Any must-have suggestions? We’re coming from San Francisco with our toddler, who is a good eater, but limits our dinners to 6pm or earlier. For this trip, the thriving cocktail culture isn’t of much interest.

It seems like some of the more interesting restaurants don’t do lunch, and I’m not finding much of interest near the tourist areas we plan to visit: Mexican War Streets, Andy Warhol Museum, National Aviary, CMU campus, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Any suggestions, or should we plan to drive for grub?

Some initial thoughts:

Any destination places we should add to the list, or best in show for pierogies and haluski? Other than Polish, any immigrant cuisines not common in the San Francisco Bay Area with great food?

Some lists I’ve been looking at:

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We finished the Pittsburgh portion of the trip a few days ago. We ate decently, but traffic and logistics made us repeat meals at nearby places we liked. The city is very spread out!

Closeby the Aviary and Children’s Museum is the Federal Galley, a food court with contemporary options ranging from healthy vegetable-focused dishes to the type of stoner food common to food trucks (e.g. one place’s “yinzer salad” is a waffle fry-based salad).

  • The Mexican stall, El Lugar, has tortillas hand-made from fresh masa, a mix of nixtamalized white and yellow corn. Really good beans and corn-tasting tortillas.

  • Michigan and Trumball has Detroit style pizza, a lofty pan-pizza with a darker crust than a NY Sicilian. I haven’t had this style before, and enjoyed their eggplant parmigiana and their mushroom (with arugula and lemon zest) versions.

  • Supper had a mish-mash of items, all well prepared including a BLT toasted in duck fat, a more sour than sweet vegetable tagine, and a chickpea powder (Panisse) fries.

The food at the Children’s Museum itself is pretty bad, only appropriate when an imminent melt-down makes the few hundred feet to the Federal Galley seem like too much.

Also on the north side, we twice enjoyed Huszar, a two-year old Hungarian restaurant on the border of Deutchtown with a welcoming neighborhoody atmosphere, and hearty home cooking. We all liked the goulash, chicken soup, chicken paprikas with spaezle-like dumplings, and langos (deep fried savory bread topped with sour cream and I think shredded mozzarella). House made pickled cabbage, white or red depending on the season, was wonderful and it’s acidic bite balanced out the heartier dishes.

The Strip District has changed quite a bit in the past 20 years. Gaucho, a BYOB only Argentine meat-oriented place, required an hour wait on a Thursday night and was quite delicious.


For breakfast, Pittsburgh staple Pamela’s continues to be an especially greasy spoon. The crepe-style pancakes, fluffy in the center, and tapering to a crisp on the edges unfortunately looked much better at the table next to mine and tasted better in memory than actuality. Their fried scalloped potatoes pleasantly tasted of sauerkraut, which the server denied was in them, so probably were spillage from something else on the grill.

  • I was too congested to taste anything at Apteka, so I’ll just post photos. I was able to pick up some fermenty flavors at the Eastern-European focused vegan restaurant, and will have to return. The Pierogies are fried to a crisp, so any potential delicacy in the wrappers was lost, sigh.

  • Best breakfast was at Bitter Ends Luncheonette in Bloomfield, a small place that bakes their own rustic loves and grows it’s veggies a farm just outside Pittsburgh. Great bean toast and a “breakfast salad” (Sunny Egg, Griddled Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Sweet Peppers, Lettuces, Onions).

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ACK. I missed this post, being on the way to Boston. Glad you had some good meals and thanks for the tips on eating in the North Side! I don’t get over there enough. The metro goes underground now to the north shore. Or it’s a short walk across the bridges from the golden triangle.
For anyone coming to the ‘Burgh, plan on Uber or cab! It’s a small city but crazy w/bridges and clashing grids!
Anyone else coming, heads up: breakfast at Enrico’s in the Strip!! (!!!). Try the greens/beans & smoked bacon. Takeout is best at Gaucho Parilla!
Seems like you can toss a rock and hit a good plate of food here these days. You found some good ones! Thanks!

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Whoa, Gaucho does takeout!

Enrico looks great.

The weather was chillier than I’m used to, but we toughed it out and walked on the bridges rather than take the metro. Another few weeks would be another story.

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Great report. Wonderful photos.

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No Primantis?

For unknown reasons, the last time I went to Primanti Brothers, in 2002, the server threw ice at us from across the room.

We didn’t have a chance to get to Primanti Brothers this time, but I promise to toss fries and coleslaw on a sandwich when my kid has a big enough mouth to appreciate it :slight_smile:

I’m amazed at how Primanti Brothers has expanded—- I saw satellite locations on the way to, and in, Morgantown West Virginia! (I also noticed that Pittsburgh has a DiBella’s, which was a favorite of mine when I lived in Rochester!)

Yeh - there used to be just one - now there are a bunch. The original one has the most vintage grease though.

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