I would recommend a moveable feast in the Strip. The street food, while not on par with a lot of "foodie" cities, is starting to come in to its own. I like the lingua (veal tongue) tacos at Reyna's. 2 for 5 bucks, can't beat 'em. Rat on a stick down the street is a treat. Biscotti at Enrico's (not technically on the street) is not to be missed. When the weather is warmer, you can also find sausage sandwiches and pizza, mystery meat dogs, Italian ice and espresso. All for less than a sit-down.
Just to throw in - the Strip on a Saturday morning is always a recommendation, it seems, but it's so insanely crowded, parking's really hard, etc. All the same stores and restaurants are open on weekdays (usually just in the daytime). DeLuca's is a lot more enjoyable when crowds aren't spilling out the door, propping it open, as they wait for a table. Go, by all means - but consider a Tuesday morning, maybe. (And don't forget Mon Aimee Chocolate and La Prima Espresso.)
What experience and style of dining are you looking for?
Are you just looking for things unique to Pittsburgh to say that you have eaten there?
Are you a foodsnob? Then Primanti's will not be to your liking?
Here are some suggestions:
Bar type food ala Primaniti brothers:
Tesaro’s known for their hamburgers
Fathhead Saloon – Huge sandwiches
Point Brugge Café – Belgium food (mussels/frittes and Belgium beer)
Yo-Rita – already mentioned
Bloomfield Bridge Tavern – Polish bar with food, lots of fun
Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh – German bar with German food.
Jerome Bettis Grille 36 – Large commercial operation, think TGIF style sports bar.
Pamela’s – already mentioned
Deluca’s – greasy spoon diner almost always a wait, pitt institution.
Chruch Brew Works – Convereted a old church into a brew pub – quite unique
Mad Mex – Pitt/mex food, go there for the margaritas.
Abay – Ethiopian food.
Kaya – Carribean fusion food
Café de jour – French obviously
Picolo Forno – Italian / pizza
Higher end Dining
Nine on Nine
Dining with a view of Pittsburgh from MT. Washington
There are quite a few places but remember you are paying for the view, the only one that seems to do an above average job of food is:
Isabella on Grandview.
NOTE: I am not a resident of Pittsburgh but have been working here for 4 months and get to eat out a lot (expense account). I’m not endorsing the food at any of these places since individual tastes vary; however none of these places will kill yeah. These are just the popular places that people like, are not chains and they are unique to Pittsburgh.
Wow- for not living in the city for very long this is a really complete list- you certainly get out alot!
My favorite places to bring visitors are in no particular order:
Tessaro's (mentioned above)
Girasole (mentioned above)
Murray Ave Grill (Sq. Hill)
Union Grill (Oakland)
D's (Regent Sq.)
Gulifty's (Sq. Hill)
Pamela's (mentioned above)
Walnut Grill/Shady Grove (Shadyside)
Bangkok Balcony (Sq. Hill)
My tastes tend to lean more towards casual. When we do go for higher end dining we usually just go to Ruth Chris, but that's just a regular chain.
Oh don't forget Klavon's (Strip District) for an old fashioned ice cream parlor treat!
This is rather late but I must add that before I would go to Hofbräuhaus, I would go to Max's Allegheny Tavern in the north side. Unless of course it is the loud but fun atmosphere you are looking for. Max's food while not straight from Germany I feel is a bit more authentic than the Hofbräuhaus which to me is German food in the US like Chinese food is here.. Not really native.
I recommend Legume - it is BYO and sustainable/local and delicious!!
Also YoRita - http://www.yoritasouthside.com/ - where Kevin Sousa, a really innovative chef acted as a consultant while he was between gigs (not sure whatever happened to his new venture)
Agree with Bigley on both and would add Bona Terra as the other great regional farm-to-table restaurant along with Legume What Sousa is doing with YoRita is something that would impress in cities bigger than ours.
Would add that if you're gonna make yourself visit Primanti's, the other lower-end classic institution worth visiting is the "O" - Original Hot Dog Shoppe. Not suggesting it's particularly good, but it's IS all Pittsburgh. You may appalled, you may love it. Drag some folks in from the street to help finish your order of grease fries ;-)
I agree with Yo Rita's - excellent both in terms of taste as well as innovation, but both times I've been to Legume has ended with a disappointing main course.
In Pittsburgh, I would skip the high end restaurants unless you want to drive out to Nemacolin, where the excellent Lautrec resides. I dare say that place would have 3 Michelin stars, were it in a rated city.
Instead, I recommend, as others have, Tessaro's burger and Josza's Corner for a, literally, home cooked Hungarian meal.
Of course Primanti Bros! Have fun!
I would recommend Isaley's Chipped Chopped Ham Barbeque. One of my most favorite things. www.isaleys.com is a resource. I had to buy it in Giant Eagle supermarket my last trip. Lemon Blend (mix with water and enjoy!) is great too.. it can be found at some of the gourmet stores right around the warehouse district by Primanti Bros.
I was only in Pgh for a very short time and only ventured to Primanti's (otherwise it was typical franchises..) Here is a link to a chow blog on Pgh restaurants that may be helpful. It is a great city. Don't forget to ride the "incline" :-)
Sorry not be more help..