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. Read on for the inside scoop.
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 Pittsburgh Restaurant
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite restaurant since we’ve been to nearly 200, but Gaucho Parrilla Argentina tops our list. It’s a meat-centric Argentinian grill and master of its craft.
Though not trendy, Gaucho Parrilla Argentia is 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.
Gaucho Parilla Argentina is located at 146 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, USA.
Iconic Pittsburgh Food
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.
Note from 2foodtrippers
For the full Pittsburgh food experience, stop by Primanti Brothers and try a sandwich topped with fries and coleslaw. Love it or hate it, this sandwich is a Pittsburgh icon.
Favorite Pittsburgh Cafe
Pittsburgh has a number of coffee shops, but my favorite is our neighborhood cafe, Commonplace Coffee. This local chain roasts its own beans and serves excellent cups of coffee.
Order a cortado or straight espresso at Commonplace Coffee. This is not a cafe where you want to mess with the good stuff.
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.
If you time your meal to occur on the same evening as a Pittsburgh Pirates fireworks night, you’ll enjoy a stunning show through the restaurant’s expansive windows.
Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is located at 1411 Grandview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211, USA.
Favorite Pittsburgh Dessert
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.
Hidden Pittsburgh Gem
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.
Meet the Pittsburgh 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.
Plan Your Pittsburgh Trip
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.