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Mar 11, 2010 04:03 PM

2 days / nights in Pittsburgh

So, 3 gals, 20 years out of high school, meeting for 2 nights of fun and freedom without kids or spouses, staying in downtown Pittsburgh. Where to eat? Seeking, in order of priority:
1. good food
2. interesting / non-chain
3. somewhat hip
Lay it on us!

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  1. What fun! Are you looking to stay in downtown to dine? If so, I would suggest Eleven (in the Strip District, minutes from downtown) or Seviche(on Penn Ave, Downtown.) Eleven is part of a larger restaurant group, with some chain-ish restaurants in their repoitoire. But, Eleven itself is interesting and consistently offers solid, creative food. The menu somewhat focuses on seasonal food as well, which is always a plus. Seviche is a tapas bar offering both cooked and raw food. Don't let the cheesy website or restaurant scare you - the food is good. If you are looking for a good hangover brunch, try Lidia's. It is part of a chain, but you'd never know it from the food. Brunch is especially wonderful - antipasto and dessert offerings, and an addition item from a limited menu, along with a bloody mary or a mimosa all come with the brunch pricing. If you are around on a Saturday, and you want to brave the crowds, head to the strip for some great streetfood or an awesome diner-style breakfast at Pamela's or DeLuca's.
    If you are heading outside of the city, you're opening another can of worms. Pittsburgh has some amazing restaurants offering local food with daily changing menus, but the trip outside the city can be daunting if no one if your group is familiar with the city and with the lack of public transportation.
    Whatever you do, enjoy! And let us know how it goes.

    5 Replies
    1. re: BCF

      21st Street Coffee while cruising Strip District., Enrico's Biscotti. If you're not staying at the Renaissance you may want to experience the lobby while enjoying a drink. Their new restaurant, Braddock's, has opened to mix reviews but may be worth a look.
      Carson St/Southside has too many options. Lots of buzz over Yo Rita. We've had good meals at Cafe Du Jour

      1. re: 42duffy

        thanks! this all sounds great. Downtown or close by will be best. Not inclined to drive much.

          1. re: 42duffy

            Nooo, not the readers picks! LOL The reader poll is crap, nothing too exciting typically. It appears the new owners of Pittsburgh Mag have turned up the lame and taken away the actual 25 best article from the web site. Not that it is any kind of end-all list either, but it's more useful than the reader poll. How many times does Eat n Park appear on that page? Bet I can guess why they have "Italian-Chain" and "Italian-Non Chain": because they didn't want to have the embarrassing scenario of Olive Garden winning for best Italian!

            Depending upon when you're coming, 21st Street may have a new outpost open right downtown.

            Worth going to the South SIde for: Yo Rita, definitely.

            I think Dinette could be worth a trip to its neighborhood too, but it's only two nights so if you're going to do Eleven, Seviche, or something like that then you don't need both (neither are open for lunch) and I'd choose Yo Rita as the more interesting.

            Go to Pamela's in the Strip for breakfast, sure (or lunch, whatever). Don't waste that meal in a crappy hotel restaurant or anything. ;-)

            Nine on Nine could be another option for downtown. And to a lesser extent, Sonoma Grille and Six Penn Kitchen. I enjoyed my meal at Sonoma, less excited by Six Penn really though it is popular. (But hey even Bravo Franco is popular on a busy show night, and that place is crap. ;-))

            1. re: 42duffy

              Nakama is the best restauran followed by Eat n Parkt!?!!!?! Please ignore that list!

      2. CrazyOne is right about the Readers Picks, Ignore them! These are some good suggestions, but in addition to the nicer restaurants, I would make it a point not to miss going down to the Strip District in the morning. There you can also go to Pamela's for breakfast but make sure to take in the great food stores from Wholeys to Pennsylvania Maccoroni. In addition, if you are traveling here for the first time, make it a point to head up to Mt. Washington for one of the best views in the country. I'm not kidding! You can walk or drive over the Smithfield St. Bridge and take the incline up the mountain. Just a drink at Monterey Bay is a great relaxer!

        1. If you are staying at the Marriott downtown on Penn Avenue, you'll be upstairs from the Sonoma Grill, across the street from Seviche, and a short walk from Nine on Nine. Nine on Nine would be the choice for food, but the Sonoma Grill would be the place for three old, um, long time, friends to catch up and whoop a little. Nine on Nine just feels like Serious Dining. Sonoma Grill features Ca. wines.

          Agree, the bar at Monterey Bay is a great spot for a few drinks. If you can get a table by the window and have a toot or two, you could probably order up some small plates for snacking. That view is especially nice around dusk.

          I'll probably get burned for saying this, but the Sunday brunch at the new casino is just fine. A very nice room, plenty of food from which to choose, and friendly service. They just keep coming around with that champagne and OJ. Gotta love it.

          I don't know from hip, but you will find that Pittsburgh people are friendly all around. They don't hide in a shell. They talk to ya'.

          Yo Rita is a favorite spot. It's a short distance from right downtown. This is a comfortable place. They do creative tacos and drink combinations. The last time we were there, I had a duck taco and a nephew had a sweetbread taco. My wife had some strange colored drink!! Again, friendly all around.

          Hope you enjoy your stay.

          3 Replies
          1. re: yayadave

            Nobody mentioned the 'must do' in the 'burgh. Primanti's in the Strip District. Avoid Rolands in the strip unless your hotel toilet is comfortable.
            You ladies can grab a taxi and venture across the rivers to expand your pallet. Head to the South Side where you'll find Mallorca Amazing food and top notch sangria.

            Grand Concrorse for Sunday Brunch is rather famous. Again...across the river.

            North of downtown: Max's Allegheny Tavern...great German food

            Great Mediteranian ..(Food Channel's Guy Ferrie stopped here) at the start o the Strip District.

            Or just ask any Pittsburgh you see. Have fun ladies!

            1. re: yayadave

              Dave knows all.

              Do yourself a favor and skip Primantis. In fact, if your interest is having fun, skip the Strip all together. It's fun if you're shopping for stuff to cook that night or want to see "old Pittsburgh", but hip it ain't.

              Lower Lawrenceville is a better choice for "fun". You can grab great coffee at Espresso a Mano, breakfast at Cafe Coca, shop for clothes, art, oddities, go gallery hopping (check 16:62 zone site: then hit Tamari for lunch. Go back to your hotel for a beauty nap, then get ready for the evening.

              Evening fun = SouthSide. Go get some good food at YoRita or Cafe duJour or Dish or 17th St. Cafe. Then walk down to Nakama and see if you can get hit on by desperate yinzer yuppies (but don't eat there). Or take the Incline and get buzzed up on Mt. Washington where the clientele is either out of towners or folks who've been embalmed but don't know it yet. But the views are always spectacular even if you've seen 'em before. If that's too clean for you, you can chug beers and dance on picnic tables at the Hofbrauhaus. Many of the stores in the newish Southside Works are open late - lots of niche-chain fashions, plus Sur La Table if you're missing domestic life :-)

              If you're up for it, spend the second day up in Shadyside. Lots to do, see, buy and eat up there as well. Right next door is East Liberty (Eastside) and the recommendation for Dinette is a very good one (easy walk from heart of Shadyside); There are some newer eateries up there as well, but can't speak to them personally. The adjacent Squirrel Hill neighborhood is great for food/drink, but the shopping isn't particularly compelling.

              Have fun.

              1. re: yayadave

                I just remembered. One nephew had a rooster comb taco. You don't see that at Taco Bell.