Pittsburgh has been named the number one food city by Zagat. Here are eight places to eat that you will only find in Pittsburgh from dining in an old YMCA building to an extraordinary food tour of the Strip District.
1. Whitfield at Ace Hotel
Occupying a century old YMCA building in the East Liberty neighborhood, the Ace Hotel's restaurant - Whitfield was where we had lunch on our first day there. The restaurant invites diners inside with its light-filled interior, high ceilings, and open environment.
The meat and vegetables are locally sourced and prepared. The menu includes items such the Whitfield Cheeseburger, made with Jubilee Hilltop Grass-fed beef, a brioche bun, pepper jam, cheddar, fried onions, and mustard mayo. The Pastrami Sandwich was just named one of the 5 best new sandwiches of the year by Bon Appetit on August 10.
Mac & Cheese
The Whitfield opens for breakfast at 7 am and serves brunch from 10:30 until 3 pm. Dinner hours begin at 5 pm. The lobby bar is open from 11 am - 2 am.
My favorite item? The Chocolate Truffles. They're not on the menu yet, but they should be!
Chocolate Truffles by Head Pastry Chef Casey Renee
2. Grand Concourse
The Grand Concourse is where people take their friends when they want to impress them. The restaurant is inside the beautifully preserved Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station and offers incredible views of the city to go along with award-winning seafood creations.
Spicy Cucumber Martini
Even though it is an upscale establishment, the environment is rather comfortable. The waiters are attentive and know their stuff. A dinner companion of mine wasn't sure which drink to order. The waiter asked her several questions and brought her a Spicy Cucumber Martini. Let's just say that she enjoyed it so much that she had more than one of them.
My daughter and I really liked the Firecracker Shrimp appetizer. The large shrimp were battered, deep fried, and covered in a creamy, sweet chili glaze.
Remember me mentioning the views? I took the photo below when I was outside of the restaurant.
I recommend that after you eat there that you take a stroll along the Bessemer Court and watch the fountain show. Pittsburgh is absolutely stunning at night and the view of the skyline from Bessemer Court is primo.
You can see the menus for Grand Course by clicking here.
3. Square Cafe
Our second day of the press tour started with breakfast at Square Cafe, a cute little restaurant located in the Regent Square neighborhood. The inside is bright and lively and local artists have pieces on display.
I wanted to be "good" so I ordered the Veggie Benedict which is hashbrowns topped with roasted zucchini, squash, asparagus, onions, peppers, Brussels sprouts, 2 eggs over easy and hollandaise and came served with a side of greens. It was quite good.
My daughter, on the other hand, went for Nutella Crepes - three crepes filled and topped with Nutella and served with powdered sugar and whipped cream. She ordered it with bananas. She rated this dish as her favorite while in Pittsburgh. (She wouldn't STOP talking about crepes after she ate there.)
For more information about Square Cafe, visit their website at Square-Cafe.com.
4. Dorothy 6
After visiting historic Carrie Furnaces, our group stopped for lunch at Dorothy 6. This Homestead neighborhood cafe with its exposed brick interior is really cozy and a good place for having a drink and chilling out.
The name of the cafe honors the blast furnace which closed in 1984. There are more homages to the steel industry in the cafe, such as the steel rail which surrounds the bar edge.
I had a plate of three different pierogies with a side of Brussels sprouts. The sprouts were delicious. The jalapeno pierogies were the best of the three, but next time I will order something different.
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
5. The Commoner
What can I say about The Commoner? This trendy restaurant is located in the equally trendy Monaco Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. We dined there the night that Coldplay was in town, which was why the restaurant was PACKED.
The food here had mixed reviews from those in my party, though I thought that the Vegetarian Tikka Masala was the best meal that I had in Pittsburgh.
How cute is the fry basket that came with the burger that another guest had?
6. The Strip District
We met at Old St. Patrick's Church in the courtyard and learned the history of the church. (It houses an actual piece of the Blarney Stone from Ireland and is also one of the few locations in the world that has scala sancta - holy stairs.)
We started with a warm piece of cinnamon bread from Mancini's Bakery. While we ate it, we had a brief history lesson of the church. Afterward, we made our way through the strip, stopping by and sampling some delicious Italian cold cuts at Parma Sausage. We then continued on through a coffee shop where the smell of fresh roasted coffee wafted through the air. We briefly explored Penzey's Spices, Wholey Fish Market, and a few other fun places.
Then we got back to the business of sampling some of the delicious offerings around The Strip.
We sampled the pepperoni roll from Sunseri's. It came with a side of dipping sauce, but I preferred it without. I thought it was quite delicious. (We heard rumors that when Taylor Swift was in town that she ordered a lot of it for her crew.)
I had never tasted, let alone heard of a mele until we visited Colangelo's Bakery. After biting into it, I couldn't help but wonder why?! That little flaky, sweet pastry was heavenly. It was my favorite small bite in the Burgh. (By the way, the Italian term torta di mele translates to apple tart.)
We also got to choose our own biscotti at The Enrico Biscotti Company. They have more than two dozen flavors of biscotti in the bakery. I chose a chocolate one with a white chocolate drizzle. (One can never have too much chocolate, right?)
The Primanti Brothers' sandwich is world famous. While we did not eat there, a kind lady let me take a quick photo of her sandwich. These sandwiches are like no other - they come with everything on them - meat, slaw, fries - EVERYTHING.
I wish that our tour could have lasted longer - parting is such sweet sorrow. You can learn more about the 'Burgh Bits and Bites Tours by clicking here.
While that may have been the end of the press tour, my daughter and I continued to explore Pittsburgh with the help of my aunt and her friend. We ate lunch at this neat little restaurant called Kaya which was located in the Strip District. Kaya is part of the Big Burrio family and makes food inspired by "the sea and the sun."
We started off with homemade guacamole and chips.
I ordered fish tacos but felt like I had made a mistake after seeing my daughter's hamburger. Holy Moly!
See what I mean?
Overall, the environment was pretty cool and the food was okay.
8. The Yard
On our last night on our own, my daughter and I ventured through Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh and made our way to The Yard. It is located on the second floor of the building by NOLA on the Square. The Yard specializes in local, sustainable food across the region. And grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, and beer.
We split the Cheesy Capresey - made with buffalo mozzarella, provolone, thick sliced tomatoes, white truffle oil, basil, and a balsamic reduction on thick, toasted bread. It was served with a side of chips and it was all good.
Since we split the main course, we had some room left over for dessert. It didn't take long for us to settle on Cause We Got High. That's the name of the dessert - I swear!
This dessert is something else. It is thick cut Texas toast with peanut butter, Nutella, and bananas that is battered and deep fried and served with marshmallow. Definitely a dessert for two.
The environment at The Yard is very loud and lively and overall a fun place to dine. This is a place where we definitely want to go back and eat. You can see their menu by clicking here.
That was just a sampling of Pittsburgh's dining scene. (We were only there for four days!) If you would like to learn more about dining options in Pittsburgh, check out the Visit Pittsburgh website.
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