LA Hounds see Pitt: what's to eat?
Well, the Chow-Pup just got his first college acceptance, to a place he's never seen, so we're bringing him to Pittsburgh in late February to see the place (and the weather!). He's eaten almost every ethnic cuisine in his 17 years, (has been ordering octopus in sushi bars since he was 6; recently survived a South Thai curry so hot it was almost psychedelic) but doesn't presently eat mammals. What's good around the campus?
If you're looking for non-meat eateries in the Oakland area (home to Univ of Pitt and CMU) I can name a few, although I'm not vegetarian myself.
For sushi within a mile or two, our good high-end (expensive) sushi can be found at Umi on Ellsworth Ave in Shadyside. Chaya, on Murray Ave in Squirrel Hill is also good, and less expensive. Although I love their meat dishes, I've heard vegetarians swear by La Fiesta, a dive of a Mexican restaurant on Atwood St in Oakland. The vegetarians (and I) love the cheese they use. Don't be turned off if there aren't hordes of diners, as most of the college kids prefer the drinks (and mediocre food) of Mad Mex down the street. La Fiesta has no liquor license. I could go on and on about restaurants in the Oakland area, but as a meat-lover, I'll let others point out those more suited to your son's (non-mammal) preferences.
You won't find too many high priced eateries around Pitt or CMU, most students can't afford it. There are good ethnic food trucks around the area. Sri's serves a mostly vegetarian indian menu at their truck near CMU. It is good and cheap! Spice Island tea house, located nearer to Pitt, has very good Thai and Pacific Rim food.
For fries and beer, you can't miss the Original Hotdog, (also known as the dirty "O"). They have the best fries in the area, fried in peanut oil. A small portion will serve 2-3 people. It get packed at 2:00 a.m. after the bars close.
I'm going to guess, based on what I've seen (in, for instance, Berkeley, Columbus, Palo Alto, Davis, etc.) that there's going to be some assortment of relatively cheap ethnic places (noodles, falafel, pizza, sausage, Indian all-you-can-eat-buffet type places, etc.) adjoining the campus; which are the best? Anything unique to the area that we can't miss?
Don't know much about the inexpensive, day to day offerings, but for somewhere to go as a family, you should try Mallorca. It is a Spanish restaurant not too far from campus, and it has an amazing array of options. Lots of interesting meats; last time I was there, the non-mammal choices included quail, langoustines, and about 10 different kinds of fish. Not cheap but you get a ton of food, probably enough for lunch the next day. Also, service is generally quite friendly; mention that you're there so your son can decide on college, and you will likely receive even better service!
Vegetarian/Pescatarian options In Oakland (aka the University district):
Oishii Bento for bento lunches
Mad Mex for Mexican inspired food
Eat Unique for sandwiches and soup
Spice Island Tea House for cheap asian
Orchids International (indian food)
Close to Oakland:
Zenith Cafe for vegan brunch (South Side)
Abay Eithiopian (East Liberty)
Quiet Storm Coffeehouse (Friendship/Garfield)
Aladdin's (Squirrel HIll)
Chaya Sushi (Squirrel HIll)
Kaya (strip district)
Tram's Vietnamese Kitchen (Lawrenceville)
La Filipiana (Squirrel HIll)
There are lots more, but these are a good start.
Zaw's Squirrel Hill - Coconut Tofu
There's a new Turkish Restaurant around corner from Orchid in N. Oakland.
Udipi South Indian - Veggie (but in Monroeville)
Also a new Ethiopian around corner from Abay
Coca Cafe Lawrenceville
if in town over a Saturday night must check out the Zenith Sunday Brunch th food is good and cheap but it's a fun environment and gets you to the Southside.
this is close to DoubleWide Diner with many veggie options.
ENJOY the 'Burgh and good luck on college decision!
I've spent a decent amount of time In LA, so I'm going to try and tackle the question from that perspective. If you're a foodie as it seems, You'll see nothing in Oakland you've never seen before, except maybe polish food done properly, which I do recommend but may require a bar visit but the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern in (semi) nearby Bloomfield is my favorite, but it takes a one second google search to find (within a 1/2 mile radius) good periogi's almost anywhere in Pittsburgh. Just understand that besides a few exceptions (white table cloth) you will find very unpretentious well done american and international food in the oakland area. Don't always let the outside of an establishment fool you. Food is great here and we can (for our size) hold our own on fine dining as well.