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LA Chowhound needs Pittsburgh help

LA Buckeye Fan Oct 12, 2009 02:54 PM


I will be traveling to Pittsburgh for a conference on November 18th through the 21st. I have never been and can't wait to try some local favorites.

I will be staying at the Westin Convention Center on Penn Avenue and I won't have a rental car. I would love some recommendations for the following:

1. Any good places walking distance from the convention center for a good lunch?
2. Any good places for a nice dinner within walking distance or a short cab ride?
3. I am responsible for planning a dinner for four coworkers and would love a restuarant that is a classic Pittsburgh experience. Can be both high end or casusal, but jeans would need to be appropriate attire, as we are from LA and I don't think my Executive Director owns any slacks. :) This can be any reasonable distance as I will hire a car.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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  1. b
    Burghfeeder RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 13, 2009 06:54 AM

    You will have some great places within walking distance. I'd recommend Eleven on Smallman Street in the Strip District. Just a short walk from your hotel with great food. Penn Avenue, by the hotel also offers several options including Nine on Nine, or the Sonoma Grill. If you have a clear day you and your coworkers may want to go to Mount Washington. There are several good restaurants but the view is on of the best in the entire country. I mean it!

    Welcome and have fun!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Burghfeeder
      LA Buckeye Fan RE: Burghfeeder Oct 13, 2009 11:49 AM

      Thank you Burghfeeder. Is there a particular restuarant in Mount Washinton you'd recommend?

      1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
        skoledin RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 13, 2009 02:34 PM

        Not to ruffle any feathers, but I would only go to Mt Washington for the view (which is absolutely spectacular) and drinks. If you do decide you'd like to eat there (as it is a particularly interesting destination, especially if you take the incline up), Monterrey Bay Fish is probably your best bet for view + food.

        You won't go wrong with Eleven, Nine on Nine, Sonoma Grille, Six Penn, etc. which are all fairly close to your hotel and appropriate for the types of dinners you're looking to host.

        If you'd like to get out and about a little more in terms of both neighborhood and food, you may want to check out Dish (Southside), Bonna Terra (Sharpsburg gem, BYOB), Vivo (Bellevue, BYOB). In general, you'll probably also enjoy any of the Big Burrito restaurants (Cashbah, Soba, Eleven, Umi, Kaya) and they're all within decent cab distance. Do be aware, however, that cabs in Pittsburgh are notoriously not available outside of downtown, so it's most efficient to try and make arrangements ahead of time for the return trip.

        1. re: skoledin
          LA Buckeye Fan RE: skoledin Oct 13, 2009 02:52 PM

          Thank you Skoledin. I will keep that in mind.

          1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
            Bigley9 RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 14, 2009 10:40 AM

            Also consider Legume!

    2. p
      Panini Guy RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 14, 2009 09:29 PM

      As mentioned, easy walking distance to Seviche, Nine on Nine, Sonoma Grill, Eleven, Lidias. A couple more blocks to Six Penn, Taste, Cafe Zao.

      Not exactly sure what a "classic Pittsburgh experience" implies (pierogi? Mt. Washington?). But, some good Pittsburgh experiences for casual/fun might be Church Brew Works, Tessaro's, maybe even Jerome Bettis 36 Grill?

      1. d
        Deborah McDonald RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 23, 2009 12:53 PM

        You will be pleasantly surprised. A new tip. Poke your head into Braddock's (American Brasserie) which is in the Renaissance Hotel (107 Sixth St. downtown!!): this is a beautiful old spot, a mini-hotel with history that was a disco in the 80s, then a fine dining place, now trying to ditch old memories and get folks to stop in after games, in their jeans, and enjoy the marvels of an old hotel cum restaurant/bar. You can literally eat anywhere--in the marvelous lobby with mosaic ceiling, in the little bar, plug in your computer in a marble alcove and they'll bring your meal, fancy restaurant too! It' s so neat, and the food is good bordering on great without being too creative (it's only downfall)--but it works if you've got companions, work buddies, mom and or kids...and I like it myself. That said, you'll find more than you need right in what we call the "Cultural District" but get to the Strip (Pittsburgh's outdoor marketplace) and you'll direct yourself,. Nine on Nine would be my choice for dinner with your requirements in mind; lunch at Penn Avenue Fish Market funky funky funky, but the best fish sandwich EVER and a totally wild place. Here's a review I thought you'd like, but look for the guy who dons the orange fisherman's pants after a few glasses of wine, grab the table by the window and follow everyone else!
        If you're into it, there' s a great review at pittsburghmagazine.com (go to "restaurants" and hit " Penn Avenue Fish Company" on the right.

        If you're gonna explore further, that's a whole new story.
        Try dinner at DISH, South Side (tacos for lunch there at Yo Rita's);
        or go to Shadyside , the once "Haight Ashbury" of Pittsburgh, and eat at Girasole.
        It's fun just to look around in this district. A great neighborhood bar in nearby Point Breeze is Point Brugge for the best mussels around. Unless you've already eaten some in the Strip.

        1. houndog RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 23, 2009 03:19 PM

          Welcome. I've lived in northern Orange Cty for many years, and my mother's still there. I'd second many recs here, esp Nine on Nine, Legume, Casbah and Eleven. As someone often starved for good Mexican, I love Yorita's, but don't think your group need to go there. However, I'd highly recommend Toast, which should be within easy walking distance of your conference hotel on Baum Blvd. Excellent bistro food, and a well priced wine list, esp by the glass. Legume's adorable: real commitment to local food, beautifully prepared, more affordable than most and small. It's also byob, so get to a liquor store first if you go. Church Brew Works is not far from where you'll be, though you will need a car to get there. Haven't been in years, but they used to have pierogis on the menu. It's a rehabbed church, with beer where the altar was. Good but not great, as the other recs are. Pgh's best burgers are at Tessaro's, which is very affordable and has a Pgh atmosphere, whatever that is. I agree with the comment about Mt. Washington: go for the view, have drinks, but save eating for elsewhere. Consider parking at the bottom of the hill and riding the funicular up. Pgh has a compact and architecturally beautiful downtown, and you can see all of it from up there.

          1. RetiredChef RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 24, 2009 06:33 AM

            Lived in Socal for 30+ years, here is my take on the dining scene in Pittsburgh and the areas that you requested.

            >>>1. Any good places walking distance from the convention center for a good lunch? <<<

            Six Penn – Hit and Miss but a little pricey, wouldn’t eat dinner there but they are okay for lunch.

            Franktuary - Ok thinking outside of the box, they have great hot-dogs.

            The Terrace Room – It’s in the Omni William Penn Hotel (Yes a hotel restaurant that does a great lunch, albeit very pricey). The hotel and the dining area are very impressive, you will feel like you are dining how the Vanderbilt’s or the Rockefellers did.

            >>>2. Any good places for a nice dinner within walking distance or a short cab ride?<<<

            Nine on Nine


            (Both within walking distance) These are probably the top two “high end” restaurants in Pittsburgh

            >>>3. I am responsible for planning a dinner for four coworkers and would love a restuarant that is a classic Pittsburgh experience. Can be both high end or casusal, but jeans would need to be appropriate attire, as we are from LA and I don't think my Executive Director owns any slacks. :) This can be any reasonable distance as I will hire a car.<<<


            Fat Heads Saloon


            Church Brew Works (Go for atmosphere only, food and beer are only so-so but it’s a cool place.

            **Higher End**

            Isabela on Grandview - #1 A Italian Restaurant that is pretty good (I’m not a fan of Italian but I would go back) #2 It’s on Mt. Washington with a view of the city (Most restaurants up here are avg-poor) they are good.

            Legume – The farthest drive for you but worth it.

            Restaurants mentioned here that I would pass on because they are overrated and the food is underwhelming:
            Sonoma Grille – tries oh so hard to be something but falls flat on execution 70% of the time
            Casbah – Service and atmosphere is nice – food is average but very expensive.
            Point Brugge Cafe – This could get me killed in the burgh, but in reality the food is not that good. You want mussels and French fries go for it, even then I’ve had better.
            Lidia’s – Salty, expensive and rather boring Italian. I’ve heard their Sunday brunch is good.

            Good Luck

            5 Replies
            1. re: RetiredChef
              LA Buckeye Fan RE: RetiredChef Oct 27, 2009 02:47 PM

              Thank you all for so many thoughtful requests. I'm comparing and contrasting menus. The Fodor's travel board recommended the Hofbrauhous(?) for the food and entertainment. What are the Chowhound's view of this place? I think the fun atmosphere could be inviting if not too cheesy. I love to know your thoughts.

              1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
                yammers RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 27, 2009 03:59 PM

                hofbrauhaus is pretty fun if you are up for a drinking evening (think shotskis where they have four shot glasses on a ski and four people drink them at once). I think the food is terrible. lots of fried food. i like german food too! it just leaves a bit to be desired. i do like the pretzels with beer cheese.

                1. re: yammers
                  Burghfeeder RE: yammers Oct 27, 2009 06:10 PM

                  I'll back up yammers on the Hofbrauhaus. It's a fun evening with beers the size of your head and fun people. The people that I was with loved the food, so you may too, but it's not my favorite. Still it's a fun place!


                  1. re: Burghfeeder
                    RetiredChef RE: Burghfeeder Oct 28, 2009 04:35 AM

                    What Yammers said drinking fun - blah food.

                  2. re: yammers
                    LA Buckeye Fan RE: yammers Oct 28, 2009 09:54 AM

                    That's what I was afraid of. Thanks for the info.

              2. j
                julierose RE: LA Buckeye Fan Oct 30, 2009 08:20 AM

                I am in a dinner club and we go to restaurants all over the city. I would highly recommend trying Dish in the Southside. It has been my favorite restaurant by far. Also, Hofbrauhaus is a lot of fun, but the food is not so god. We were not crazy about Six Penn either, but really enjoyed Point Brugge. They have good food and a great beer selection. La Tavola is a good restaurant in Mt. Washington. It's not next to the view, but if you go there to check out the view, La Tavola would be a good option because its in the same area (BYOB). I've heard wonderful things about Legume and really want to try it so you'll have to let me know if you go there. And Dinette is another place that has been reviewed well. Its a small pizza place with fresh and local ingredients and a menu that changes daily!

                Point Brugge Cafe
                401 Hastings St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                Tavola Restaurant
                400 West Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064

                1825 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

                3 Replies
                1. re: julierose
                  LA Buckeye Fan RE: julierose Nov 13, 2009 02:14 PM

                  Thanks Julierose. I will report back. Since I leave in a few days, I'd better start looking for my coat. It's been in the 90's here. Not much of a fall. :(

                  1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
                    Burghfeeder RE: LA Buckeye Fan Nov 14, 2009 08:06 AM

                    If fall is what you're looking for you should be in luck! Lol!

                    Actually it's been very nice here...It should only be about 40 degrees cooler that you are accustomed to! have fun!


                    1. re: Burghfeeder
                      LA Buckeye Fan RE: Burghfeeder Nov 16, 2009 04:04 PM

                      Thanks Burghfeeder.

                2. s
                  shadysider023 RE: LA Buckeye Fan Nov 17, 2009 06:19 AM

                  Lunch near convention center - If looking for a super casual soup and sandwich type place, try Mark's Grille (923 Penn). Not fancy - old school, cheap, and tasty. Decent sushi, etc can be found at Penn Avenue Fish Company (2208 Penn - a bit more of a hike).

                  Dinner downtown - Six Penn, Eleven.

                  Dinner for four coworkers - I think it would definitely be worth it to make your way to the Southside. 10+ blocks of bars and restaurants.

                  Casual - Fathead's - big sandwiches, lots of beer

                  Nice(r) - Dish (sicilian - pretty cool little joint, make a res), 17th Street Cafe (comfortable neighborhood joint), Cafe Du Jour (casual BYO)

                  You could even grab a beer or two at Fathead's and then head to Dish for dinner.

                  Also, FYI, November 20th is 'Light up Night' in Downtown Pittsburgh. Nothing too crazy but downtown will likely be a bit more lively and restaurants a bit more crowded. It could actually be a nice night for a downtown dinner. And there are fireworks! We love fireworks.

                  http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/do/light-up-night-2009 (for more info


                  http://snickies.wordpress.com/ (my pgh blog - have reviewed some of the places mentioned)

                  1. LA Buckeye Fan RE: LA Buckeye Fan Nov 23, 2009 08:23 AM

                    I returned from my trip last week. Thank you all for the help. You have a beautiful city and I thorougly enjoyed my time in it. Now for the food...

                    I got a little lost walking around the first night and ended up ducking into a McCormick and Schmick's to have a drink and ask for directions back to my hotel. I must say...they have terrific happy hour deals. I tried some potato pierogis with carmelized onion--three big ones for $1.95. You could get 6 sliders for less than $3. I know it's a chain..but those were some good pierogis and good deals. The martini was nice too.

                    I met my boss later for dinner at the Fish Market (?) that is connected to the Westin. He enjoyed his lobster bisque, crab cakes and trout. I had the clams. The broth was a little salty for my taste, but I enjoyed it. We split a banana upside down cake, which was very good.

                    The next day for lunch, it was raining so I darted into the first restuarant from your list I could find. I had a nice bistro salad at the Sonoma Grill. It had med rare filet, and crispy shoestring fries topping it. It was a very nice lunch.

                    The next night was the group dinner. They really wanted the Hofbrau Haus, so that's where we went. We all really had a good time. The food was better than I expected. The fried appetizers were greasy (which you warned be about, but I can't pass up a fried pickle) but the pretzel and beercheese more than made up for it. I had the Sauerbraten (sp?) with mashed potatoes and red cabbage for my entree and it was very tasty. My coworkers were all satisfied with their entrees too. Everybody managed to skip anything fried for their entree. We all had a humongous heifewisen to wash it all down. And ended by splitting the Apple Strudel. Not too sweet, very good.

                    My final day I had lunch at Mark's Grille. I cozy little place with nice waitstaff. I had a roastbeef sandwhich on a Kaiser roll. Nothing fancy, but very tasty. After visiting the Warhol Museum (very cool) I had dinner at Nine on Nice. This was fantastic. I had a beet salad with a goatcheese poppyseed dressing as my starter. Very flavorful. A simple salad finely executed. For my entree I had the risotto with truffles and duck prociutto. AMAZING. The best risotto I've ever had. And I've had a lot of risotto.

                    Thank you again for all your help. My biggest regret was I didn't get to try a Primanti Bros. sandwich. I hope to make it back before too long.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
                      shadysider023 RE: LA Buckeye Fan Nov 24, 2009 12:03 PM

                      glad you enjoyed your trip!

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