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Jul 11, 2009 04:45 PM

Pittsburgh - 4 hour Amtrak layover

I will be passing through Pittsburgh's Penn Station and will have a 8PM to midnight wait for my next train. Where should I have dinner? I am looking for something which is "essential" Pittsburgh in terms of food and decor. Any cuisine except seafood is fine. Extra points for something traditional or "old school."

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  1. F. Tambellini, Carlton, Common Plea could be the most essential Pittsburgh within downtown area most convenient to train station.

    8 Replies
    1. re: 42duffy

      Those are definitely old-school places. Not what I would pick, but that's okay, except since I have actually been to F. Tambellini, I wouldn't recommend it at all. The Carlton is known for having good wine at low markup and solid if perhaps unexciting food. If it were me, though, I'd go to Lidia's, Kaya, Eleven, Sonoma Grille, Nine on Nine, that kind of thing. These are decidedly NOT old school; none of those places has been here even a decade yet (okay, maybe Kaya has). But they are among the best places to eat in town. Eleven is top notch in every way and really convenient to the Amtrak station. But you also have to be looking for fine dining.

      I'm not even sure what essential Pittsburgh should be. Should it really be a fine dining experience? Wouldn't a more essential Pittsburgh experience be more blue collar? I dunno. That may depend more on what the OP has in mind. For some, Primanti's would be essential Pittsburgh, and that's walkable. It's certainly an institution. But, in 4 hours you could go just about anywhere, although the trick might be getting a cab on the way back. (Getting one near the Amtrak station would be easy; at the very least there will be some waiting at the nearby Westin Hotel.) Maybe a ride to the South Side would be in order. Lots of bars and restaurants within walking distance of each other, and wandering around there and in and out of different places is a tradition. Or, for an essential fine dining experience, there's always Mt Washington. Someplace like Georgetowne Inn is old school, mediocre food and one of the best views you could possibly have with your meal. Hey, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. ;-)

      1. re: CrazyOne

        great comeback CrazyOne, I agree but was short on time and went for quick "old school". haven't been to any of those 3 in quite awhile. But I'm thinking Kaya has been around long enough to qualify as essential. if never been to the Burgh, give Mt Washington a shot!

        1. re: 42duffy

          If you want a great meal in that time go to Davios. Its byob and the meat is fantastic. Actually everything is right on. Have NEVER been disappointed there. Seafood, italian dishes and the top dish is the double cut veal chops. Zuchini Saltimbucca was excellent last time there. cab not that far away. If I had one meal in pittsburgh that would be it.

          1. re: kevin25

            Many thanks for all of the suggestions. CrazyOne raises a good point . First, when I mentioned "old school" I was thinking of a Pittsburgh restaurant which might have been around since the 1920s or 1930s. 1980s doesn't all into that category. And, I will be dining alone. A place where I could sit at the bar, eating good, but not necessarily gourmet food, is what I am looking for.

            1. re: gregleck

              Geez I can't think of anything here that's been around that long. I'm sure someone will come up with something. The closest I can think of is Del's, which goes back 60 years: I'm not sure it's worth a trek over there, though. I haven't been. It's not far, but it just doesn't come up in discussion so my suspicion is that what keeps it going is memory and tradition and not so much the food.

              If you want to stay in walking distance, I'm thinking maybe something like Six Penn would work. I dunno how much you want to spend. I think there's a more comfy bar area there than some other spots, or maybe the rooftop works. I like Kaya but the bar doesn't look like a good spot to eat at all. Sonoma Grille is probably a good place to eat at the bar if you're interested in having wine. If you're looking for something that comes out less $$ than these, it's going to be tough to find something to truly recommend, methinks. If that range is okay, there are more choices too (some of which I rattled off in my earlier post), although those three are places where I've actually eaten.

              I'm sure others may have more ideas.

              1. re: gregleck

                For "OLD" in the downtown area, there's the Original Oyster House in Market Square (1870) and Mitchell's on Ross St. (1906).

                1. re: Panini Guy

                  I'm liking the Six Penn option based on the add'l comments and feedback.
                  There's a small bar on first floor then if weather nice that rooftop could be pleasant. Could also grab a drink and snack at the Bridge bar in the Renaissance. Once you're there you could towards and perhaps across the Clemente Bridge.

                  1. re: Panini Guy

                    Duh, how could I forget the Oyster House? I've never been to Mitchell's. I only get a fish sandwich at the Oyster House. It's pretty good, but you have to want that or the fried oysters or such and not anything more involving than that.

        2. Old, sit at the bar, good solid food and downtown - sounds like Mitchell's on Ross Street.

          You might have to check how late they serve at the bar. They get a lot of daytime trade from the courthouse around the corner and they've been around for a hundred years.