As a Pittsburgh native, I’ve eaten at my fair share of restaurants around the city (and have the increasing waistline to prove it). From delicious diner bites – stack of pancakes, anyone? – to classic Argentinian cuisine, Pittsburgh is home to a diverse selection of restaurants – I promise you’ll never go hungry!
While it’s impossible to fit them all on a single list, here are my top favorite places to grab grub around the city.
1. Brick N’ Mortar
Located on the outskirts of Pittsburgh in Heidelberg Borough, Brick N’ Mortar started as a food truck known as Burgh Bites before expanding into a full-service restaurant. The dream of owner Ricci Minella, Brick N’ Mortar is known for its unique menu of sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and even pasta.
I always grab one of their sandwiches when I am short on time. My favorite is the Rastafarian – a powerful punch of flavor featuring corn-mango salsa, charred chili pepper aioli and Jamaican jerk chicken. Throw in a side of their signature torts (crispy tortilla chips), and it’s the perfect lunch.
2. Sienna Mercato
It’s hard to miss Sienna Mercato, a three-story Italian restaurant on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. What’s unique about this local hot spot is it’s three restaurants in one: Emporio, a gourmet meatball joint; Mezzo, a classic pizza, pasta and charcuterie spot; and Il Tetto, a rooftop beer garden with an extensive list of brews on tap.
This is my go-to spot with friends on a Friday or Saturday night. I like to start on the first floor, grabbing a couple of gourmet meatballs – these aren’t your typical meatballs. They not only serve up classic beef but deep-fried cod, chicken, spicy pork and veggie. Next, it’s a pepperoni pizza at Mezzo on the second floor, followed by some beers on the rooftop. I usually go for a Cowbell, an imperial stout or the Pipeline Porter with hints of coffee.
3. Grand Concourse
If you’re looking for a fantastic lunch or dinner spot, check out the Grand Concourse at Pittsburgh’s Station Square. The restaurant is housed in the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Station. Built in 1901, the establishment still has the original marble columns and stained-glass ceilings.
While the restaurant has multiple menus, I like ordering the surf ‘n turf. The filet mignon is tender and comes paired with a decadent lobster tail. Just be aware this can be a pricier dining experience, so if you’re on a budget, check out the more casual Grand Dancy Dancer Saloon off the main dining area, which serves up reasonable small plates. I like the Firecracker Poppers – tempura fried shrimp with a sweet chili glaze.
4. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina
Gaucho Parilla Argentina is a classic Argentinian steakhouse in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District known for preparing quality meats in traditional South American fashion – over a wood-fire barbecue grill.
The menu is full of savory options, from heavenly small plates to mouthwatering entrees. From ribeye and chorizo to seafood, salads and tasty empanadas, this place brings a taste of Argentina to Pittsburgh. I like to start with the classic chimmi-churri with fresh parsley and follow things up with a Pollo Milanese sandwich (pan-fried chicken breast topped with cabbage slaw). Of course, you can’t skip washing it all down with a clean and crisp Mexican lager.
5. Pamela’s Diner
Pamela’s Diner has a history of being one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in the city, thanks to its crepe-style hotcakes and famous lyonnaise potatoes (buttery, crispy potatoes usually tossed with caramelized onions). Catering to hungry Pittsburgh locals since 1980, this popular pancake and potato spot has several locations throughout the city, but the Strip District location is the most popular.
The diner has a retro look and vibe that always makes me feel at home. I can count on a warm welcome, a cup of hot coffee, and a pile of lyonnaise potatoes paired with those delicious hotcakes. If you’re feeling adventurous, get the potatoes topped with cheddar cheese and green peppers.
6. DiAnoia’s Eatery
You’ll be shouting, “that’s a ‘more” when dining at this popular eatery in Pittsburgh. I stop by in the morning for a stuffed cornetto – a Nutella-filled pastry. And for dinner? A plate of the Pesto Alla Trapanese with cherry tomatoes and almond pesto calls my name.
On the other side of the restaurant, Pizzeria Davide, a dedicated pizza joint run by Dave DiAnoia, operates and flourishes with a takeout window and quaint outdoor dining area. If I don’t have time for a full plate of pasta, you can find me stepping up to the window around the back in search of my Margherita pizza to go.
Revel is the quintessential spot for those looking for more than just a restaurant experience – it mixes passion for Pittsburgh with a refined and contemporary feel. The restaurant, dedicated to remembering the 1845 Great Fire of Pittsburgh, sits on Forbes Avenue just a block away from Market Square.
I usually hit up this spot for brunch and always get smoked salmon on an everything bagel. If I’m meeting friends for dinner, it’s the Street Corn Shrimp appetizer with sweety drop peppers and avocado aioli followed by a Cherry Chaser house cocktail made with St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur.
8. Social House 7
Beautiful murals and elegant sculptures line the interior of this Izakaya-style restaurant located on 7th Street just off Fort Duquesne Boulevard. Social House 7 is a fusion between a gastro pub and a tapas bar – Japanese, Thai and Korean cuisines come together for a laid-back and welcoming feel with a full bar and an emphasis on shareability.
I usually order the Bi Bim Bap to start, a plate full of marinated wagyu strips next to an egg and a side of Korean barbecue sauce. I like to sip on a draft pour of a sweet, malty Sapporo beer accompanied by my favorite menu item, Teriyaki Tsukune, a dish of Japanese-style meatballs.