Pittsburgh is an American city famous for its sports teams and bridges. But what about the Pittsburgh food scene? We’ve asked a local expert to share his picks for the best places to eat in Pittsburgh.
Historically a meat and potato city fueled by steel and coal, Pittsburgh is transitioning to a technology hub with businesses like Google and Facebook operating satellite offices away from their Silicon Valley headquarters. Long considered Pennsylvania’s second city after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh is emerging from the shadow to become a worthy city on its own merits.
No stranger to art and commerce, Pittsburgh is Andy Warhol’s home town and where Andrew Carnegie made his fortune. However, the Steel City was never known for its food scene. As we found during a recent visit, times are changing and there are now many great places to eat in Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania’s hilly city situated on the shores of the Allegheny River is on the rise when it comes to food. Famous for producing ketchup for french fries and then putting those fries inside sandwiches and on top of salads, Pittsburgh now has a farm to table culture and a burgeoning third wave coffee scene. The city is also a hub for craft beer aficionados.
But where are the best places to eat in Pittsburgh? And by best, we mean the Pittsburgh restaurants where locals eat.
A Local’s Picks for the Best Places to Eat in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh restaurant scene is rapidly changing with new eateries opening in neighborhoods like Lawrenceville and the Strip District on a regular basis. Though exciting for both locals and tourists, these changes can make it challenging for diners in Pittsburgh to know where to eat.
We’ve asked local expert Jeremy Jones of Discover the Burgh to provide his tips for the best restaurants in Pittsburgh. Read on for the inside scoop on where to eat in Pittsburgh:
Favorite Local Restaurant
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite restaurant since we have been to nearly 200, but Cure and Gaucho Parrilla Argentina top our list. Both are meat-centric with Cure focusing on house-made charcuterie and Gaucho being an Argentinian grill. Both are masters at their craft.
A leader in Pittsburgh’s culinary resurgence, Justin Severino opened his popular Cure, a nose-to-tail restaurant designed for meat lovers, in 2011. He opened Spanish-themed Morcilla a few years later, earning a James Beard nomination for his efforts.
Though its vibe is less trendy compared to Cure, Gaucho Parrilla Argentia is also one of the top restaurants in Pittsburgh. This spacious Pittsburgh BYOB serves grilled meat and vegetables with flavorful dipping sauces and a friendly, ‘unsteakhouselike’ vibe.
I’m going to avoid mentioning Pittsburgh’s famous sandwich known for being topped with fries and coleslaw because it isn’t that great. Instead, my answer is pierogies.
You can find pierogies almost everywhere you look in Pittsburgh – be it as a side, a main, on top of a burger, or even on a salad at times. The best place to get these bad boys is at Apteka, a vegan Eastern European restaurant in the city’s Bloomfield neighborhood.
Apteka usually serves two flavors of pierogies that change daily including flavors like sauerkraut and mushroom or smoked cabbage and potato. I typically order a large plate with both flavors.
Pittsburgh has a number of coffee shops, but my favorite is our neighborhood cafe, Commonplace Coffee. This local chain roasts its own own beans and serves excellent cups of coffees.
Commonplace Coffee has multiple locations in Pittsburgh.
Special Occasion Meal
Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is a great restaurant for a special occasion since this top Pittsburgh restaurant has the best view of the city! Seafood is the thing to order here, but don’t skip dessert. The angel food grilled cheese dessert is one of the best desserts in the city.
If you can’t score a reservation, you can start or end your evening with drinks and dessert at the bar. You’ll still get to enjoy the view.
Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is located at 1411 Grandview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211, USA.
La Tavola is an authentic Italian gem on Mount Washington that serves another of one of our favorite desserts in the city – Dolce Amore. It’s hard to say no to La Tavola’s chocolate cake topped with flambée’d berries soaked in amaretto and whipped cream.
La Tavola is located at 1 Boggs Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211, USA.
Better Maid Donut in Pittsburgh’s Crafton Heights neighborhood is, quite literally, hiding in plain sight. This unassuming shop looks like most of the houses on the street and only looks like a donut shop when open due to the line out the door, the small sandwich board out front, and the smell of donuts in the air.
Better Maid Donut makes cake donuts and donut holes with thick crust and a delectably soft center that are so good (and popular) that they run out within an hour of opening most days.
The shop opens at 6 am on weekdays and 7 am on weekends, and the line starts before that. You know this local favorite is the right place to be – if you can get up early, that is!
Better Maid Donut is located at1178 Steuben Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15220, USA.
About the Local Expert
Jeremy and Angie Jones run the local Pittsburgh travel blog, Discover the Burgh. This site chronicles their quest to do everything in southwest Pennsylvania. Since founding Discover the Burgh in 2015, they have visited over 700 spots in the region with no end in sight.
Jeremy and Angie also run a global travel blog – Living the Dream. This site features adventures in over 70 countries around the world.
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There’s more to do in Pittsburgh than eating great food. We recommend that you check out both the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art during your visit.
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