Savoring Pittsburgh’s Neighborhoods

Set Your Compass for a Memorable Meal

MS_SOTW_Savoring-Pittsburghs-Neighborhoods_3
Meat and Potatoes

The Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) will co-host the 2017 Main Street Now Conference in Pittsburgh, May 1-3. Leading up the conference, we’ll be sharing a series of articles to introduce you to their Main Street program and communities, and the city of Pittsburgh.

It’s five o’ clock. At the end of a long day of conference sessions and neighborhood tours, the evening meal promises a chance to unwind, socialize, and get to know at least one of the neighborhoods you just met a little better over dinner.

Pittsburgh’s vibrant restaurant scene has begun to gain national notice with world-class cuisine and James Beard Award-nominated chefs. But you don’t need to limit yourself to buzz-worthy restaurants to have a deliciously Pittsburgh dining experience. North, south, east, or west, there’s a place for every appetite and budget within easy walking, driving, or transit-taking distance of your hotel. Below are just some of this local restaurant reviewer’s favorite Main Street dining destinations. (All addresses are in the City of Pittsburgh unless otherwise noted.)

Downtown Pittsburgh:

Formerly a barren realm of lunch-hour delis and expense-account steak houses, Downtown Pittsburgh’s revitalization has made it the hot center of our fair city’s exciting dining-out scene. Just a few of the options:

  • Social House 7, 123 7th St.: Top-notch Asian fusion cuisine in a flamboyant collage of Japanese temples, markets, sushi bars, and art. https://socialhouse7.com
  • Wingharts, 5 Market Square: Its owner grinds his own chuck daily and serves the burgers on gloriously glossy challah buns from local bakery, Mediterra. The wood-fired pizza is legit, too. http://winghartburgers.com
  • Meat and Potatoes, 649 Penn Ave.: Deliciously combines several current trends, including revisited staples of the American pantry and nose-to-tail cooking, in a lively, well-lit space.  Also consider M&P’s high-style, high-concept cousins, Täko and Butcher and the Rye, located nearby. http://meatandpotatoespgh.com, http://takopgh.com, http://butcherandtherye.com

MS_Savoring-Pittsburgh_Social-House-7
Social House 7

North:

Pittsburgh is the city of bridges. An oft-repeated cliché holds that locals are loathe to cross them, but don’t be bound by that! Walk or hop a bus for a quick trip across one of the Three Sisters bridges to enjoy the tiny, tasty, very neighborhood-y restaurants of the North Side.

  • Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, 856 Western Ave.: Outstanding Thai cuisine, from familiar standards to chef’s specials that are truly special. http://www.nickysthaikitchen.com
  • Carmi’s Soul Food, 917 Western Ave.: Home-style Southern cooking on the North Side and a favorite of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mmm-mm good! http://www.carmirestaurant.com
  • Lola, 1100 Galveston St.: A neighborhood bistro featuring “contemporary comfort food” we’d like to experience every night. It’s all in the details! http://lola-bistro.com
  • James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy, 422 Foreland St.: Like live music with your food? Here’s your spot. Order refined pub grub from menus housed in old LP covers. http://jamesstreetgastropub.com
  • Penn Brewery, 800 Vinial St.: Authentic German food in a historic brewery, complete with outdoor beer garden. What more could you want? http://www.pennbrew.com
  • Scratch, 1720 Lowrie St.: Good, easy-to-like food in a relaxed atmosphere with books, games, a pinball machine, and a piano. Have fun! http://www.scratchfoodbev.com

MS_Savoring-Pittsburgh_Scratch_URA
Scratch

South:

Pittsburgh’s South Side is one of our great Main Street success stories, and restaurants continue to proliferate along its 20-some blocks of Victorian charm mixed with funky youth culture. The sidewalks can get rowdy with college students on weekend nights, but these restaurants—a step up from the street’s more youth-oriented bars and taverns—should tempt you to brave (or join!) the revels.

  • Tres Rios, 1719 E. Carson St.: If Andy Warhol had stayed in Pittsburgh, he might have appreciated this Mexican-ish restaurant. It’s quirky, bright, and doesn’t take itself too seriously—but the tasty food is no joke. There’s a tequila bar, too. http://www.tresriospgh.com
  • Carmella’s Plates and Pints, 1908 E. Carson St.: Carmella’s riffs on the tired old tavern foods of yesteryear are confident, stylish, and delicious in new and exciting ways. And if the German hunting lodge decor doesn’t tempt you to raise a pint, we don’t know what will. http://carmellasplatesandpints.com
  • Stagioni, 2104 East Carson St.: The name is Italian for “seasons,” and the chef takes a delectable seasonal approach to the menu. Housed in gracious and convivial dining rooms, this might just be Pittsburgh’s best Italian restaurant. http://stagionipgh.com
  • Waffles INCaffeinated, 2517 E. Carson St.: The young chef who started this restaurant has a serious commitment to waffles, beginning with the five-year-old sourdough starter that’s the foundation of the batter. Add a plethora of sweet and savory toppings, and you’ll ‘let go your Eggo’ forever. http://www.wafflesincaffeinated.com
  • Dish Osteria, 128 S. 17th Street: A couple blocks off the beaten path and housed in a former corner bar, this is a lively, European-style bistro that offers Italian and Mediterranean cuisine with a light touch. And it’s open late, which—along with sidewalk seating—is the Holy Grail of Pittsburgh dining. http://www.dishosteria.com

MS_Savoring-Pittsburgh_Penn-Brewey-The-Abbey
Penn Brewery and The Abbey

East:

East of downtown lie Pittsburgh’s universities, whose students and faculty have always kept dining interesting; the Strip District, with its wholesale food markets frequented by local chefs; and its newly hippest neighborhoods, Lawrenceville and East Liberty. So much to see, do, and eat here!

  • Smallman Galley, 54 21st St. The business model is a story of its own: this is an incubator created to give four would-be restaurateurs a leg up in the industry. Each has 18 months to attract a clientele—and investors—before the chalkboards are erased and a fresh four are brought in. The variety makes this a great choice for dining in a group. http://www.smallmangalley.org
  • Franktuary, 3810 Butler St., Lawrenceville: Creatively-dressed hot dogs, a variety of poutines, and hand-crafted cocktails in an attractive, sit-down space. https://franktuary.com
  • Smoke, 4115 Butler St., Lawrenceville: Amazing tacos next door to Pittsburgh’s cutest movie theater, Row House Cinema. https://smokepgh.com
  • The Abbey, 4635 Butler St.: A sprawling, eclectic array of spaces in a former funeral home and masonry shop, The Abbey serves everything from morning coffee and pastries to late-night dinner and drinks in an almost religious, deeply Old World atmosphere. http://theabbeyonbutler.com
  • B52 Cafe, 5202 Butler St.: A vegan Middle Eastern restaurant that synchronizes both concepts with exceptional results. Don’t go home without some of proprietor Omar Abuheljeh’s housemade dark chocolates! http://www.b52pgh.com
  • Cure, 5336 Butler St.: House-cured charcuterie and a seasonal, locally-inspired menu in a rustic-chic setting. Proprietor Justin Severino is one of Pittsburgh’s four 2017 James Beard Award nominees. http://www.curepittsburgh.com
  • The Porch, Schenley Plaza, Oakland: Dine right in a park in the heart of Oakland on food that is modern without being stark, homey without being heavy. http://www.theporchatschenley.com
  • Paris 66, Centre Ave.: French is actually spoken by the staff and many habitues of this charming creperie and bistro in East Liberty. Sooner or later, you’ll have to go home, but you’ll always have Pittsburgh! https://www.paris66bistro.com

MS_Savoring-Pittsburgh_Smallman-Paris
Smallman Galley in the East side's Strip District, and Paris 66 in the East Liberty neighborhood.

West:

West of downtown, things are a little sleepier, but delicious meals await those who venture here. Just try to resist:

  • The Summit, 200 Shiloh St.: Just steps away from the famous Mt. Washington view of Downtown, this is a cozy, hospitable gastropub that sidesteps American comfort food in favor of international inspiration. http://thesummitpgh.com
  • Micro Diner, 221 Shiloh St.: A tiny but mighty place to get lunch, dinner, or breakfast any time of day. http://www.microdiner.com
  • Bakn, 335 E. Main St., Carnegie: You already know bacon is delicious. Count the ways at this bacon-themed restaurant, which swings both savory and sweet. http://www.eatbakn.com
  • Village Tavern, 424 S. Main St.: A warm, welcoming, and satisfying Italian restaurant. https://www.facebook.com/villagetavernpgh/

MS_Savoring-Pittsburgh_Carmellas-micro
Carmella's Plates and Pints on the South Side, and Micro Diner west of Downtown.

Read other Story of the Week articles from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, our conference co-host: