Visiting PGH this weekend, need help!
Hello! We are visiting PGH this weekend since we will be moving there in July of 2010 and I've never actually seen the city! We are driving from DC Saturday morning, so I figure we will have lunch and dinner Saturday and brunch on Sunday. I think Pamela's seems to be the universal recommendation for brunch, but I need help for the other two meals!
We are staying in Oakland, but plan to explore neighborhoods that we might like to live in, like Shadyside and Lawrenceville. It would be great to have dinner in a place where we can walk around and see what the nightlife is like. Also, I've heard about the Strip District markets and might try to check that out when we arrive Saturday morning.
I spent 4 years in The 'BURGH; my favorite restaurants are there so I am jealous!
Here they are in order of preference:
1. Primanti's-Oakland and The Strip
2. Mad Mex-Oakland
3. Fuel and Fuddle-Oakland
4. Union Grille-Oakland
5. New Dumpling House-Squirrel Hill
6. Roland's Seafood-The Strip
7. Church Brew Works
The Strip is a great place to start, especially on a Saturday, as it will be hopping! You can either buy items from the various street vendors for lunch or you can go to Kaya, which is a really good Caribbean(?) type restaurant. It is a block off of Penn Ave. Rolands is a good place to grab a drink and people watch, and of course, there is Primanti's as well. Shadyside is going to be very busy this weekend as there is an Arts festival on Walnut street, which is the main drag. Another great place to see some action, especially this weekend! You might as well eat in Shadyside as there is an abundance of great places on Walnut and Ellsworth which is a decent, but doable walk. In fact, you will probably have to park closer to Ellsworth! On Ellsworth, there is Soba which is a more upscale Pan-Asian type restaurant. You also have the Harris Grille which is a much more casual place with great bar food. There is also the Fajita Grill which is really nice, but it is BYOB. You will probably get a lot of recs on places to eat in the Walnut St area, but I might suggest Pangea or Girasole as they are nice places with great decor and atmosphere, IMO. Enjoy!
FWIW, the Shadyside and Lawrenceville neighborhoods are nothing alike. Sort of like choosing between Georgetown and Adams Morgan.
In Shadyside, you might want to try Casbah, Enrico's, Soba or Umi. Also worth stopping by Oh Yeah! for ice cream.
In Lawrenceville, Church St. Brewery, Piccolo Forno or Tamari. Also worth stopping into Dozens for cupcakes or pastries. Coca Cafe is supposed to have a nice brunch, but never been personally.
re: Panini Guy
Went to Coca this past weekend. While I might go back because I live pretty close I would probabily try something else for brunch if i were visiting. Just my humble opinion. Also had a very long wait to get in. The food was good but nothing spectacular.
I do however love Delucas in the Strip District.....
Thank you all for the suggestions! It sounds like we have lots to choose from!!
Panini Guy, thanks for the DC comparison! Which neighborhood is more comparable to which though? We actually live near Georgetown, so that is more our speed. I would love something that is residential, but close to shops and restaurants, maybe even walkable? Are we missing a neighborhood that might meet our needs?
Lawrenceville would be like A-M in the late 80s. Shadyside is probably closest to G'Town, but Sq. Hill has a lot going for it without being quite so tony - lots of great area eats there. If G'Town is your speed, you might also consider Highland Park or Point Breeze. Less concentration of commercial, but both have a couple of excellent neighborhood places to recommend and are pretty close to many more dining options.
re: Panini Guy
Thanks again for all the suggestions! I'll follow up and let you know where we go.
As for neighborhoods, I wouldn't mind something a little grittier than Georgetown, but Adams Morgan is really a huge cluster nowadays. For all the DC people, is Lawrenceville more like Columbia Heights? It certainly sounds like we are not lacking for options, and since we have so much time before we move, we'll be taking several trips to check everything out!
Lived in D.C. for 12 years, been back in the 'Burgh for nearly 4 now. If you live near G'town, I'd say Shadyside is definitely more your speed than Lawrenceville, which is still quite gritty, although getting better. Squirrel Hill also might be a good option. We had initially targeted those areas, but with two young kids, wanted to get more house/space for the money and have access to good public schools, so ended up in the northern 'burbs.
Ate at many highly regarded restaurants in D.C. in my time there. I would recommend the Strip or Shadyside for walking/eating. In the Strip you have Eleven or Kaya, both of which are excellent, but quite different vibes. Roland's is all right, but it is average at best. Firehouse Lounge is also there for late drinks or downstairs at Firehouse there is a new little bar focused on more classic cocktails, much of the contents of those drinks house made. If you make it to the Strip on Saturday, also would recommend La Prima for a coffee drink of your choosing and Penn Ave. Fish Company for some fish tacos.
The South Side is also worth considering. Dish Osteria is there, as is Le Pommier, both of which do a really good job with their food. Also Yo Rita is there, for excellent "gourmet" (a term I use for lack of anything better, despite my dislike of that term) tacos - think duck, chicken livers, braised pork, black eyed peas, great sauces, etc. - and top notch margaritas and other drinks.
I'm also very partial to Dinette in East Liberty/Shadyside - fantastic pizzas made with the freshest ingredients (a super green/eco approach at Dinette), excellent apps, and a great but small selection of affordable wines, all available by the glass.
Shadyside, as others have mentioned, is also an option. Casbah, Soba, Umi, and a new place called Toast, which I've read good things about but have yet to eat there.
I think you'll really like Pittsburgh. It's food scene is very under appreciated. It has its issues (still somewhat run down in many areas, crappy mass transit), but it's far more affordable than D.C. and you can actually get pretty much anywhere by care outside of rush hour in 30 minutes or less. We're pretty glad we came back.
If you go to Pamela's, I'd skip the one on Oakland. I've never been to that location, but my parents had two bad experiences at that location and won't go back. We/they have had good eats at all other Pamela's locations.