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Dec 16, 2010 07:28 AM

Converting Non-Believers- In Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's dining evolution only recently began to walk on two feet. --Panini Guy

This statement hit excatly on a conversation I was having with friends family in NYC, comparing food/lifestyle cultures. I will admit, I am certainly new to the foodie world. About 6 years ago in college (and watching mulitple shows of anthony bourdain), I realized I am not werid for thinking that Sheetz and McDonalds wasn't going to cut it. I am also not strange for wanting to pay more for a quality meal, that might not give me as much quanity as other options.
However, in Pittsburgh (especially my age group lets say20-30) is almost impossible to derive from the standards of an olive garnden-ish meal.

Having said all of that, I am noticing more social venues in pitts area, offering unique options. Even in the suburbs , I am able to find a craft beer with lets say a duck confit with buffalo sauce. (not typical wester pa bar grub, but damn good)

IS THERE ANY POSSIBLE WAY to get more of my associates to open thier minds to enjoy worth while meals, rather than just the usually feed bag approach? Would Love some help or opinions

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  1. I'm also a foodie in an often non-foodie crowd. I usually can get people to go to a good happy hour at an interesting place and they'll sample some apps or small plates. Tamari and Casbah are 2 that come to mind.

    229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    2 Replies
    1. re: olivertwist

      I think that comes with age. When I was in my 20-30's.. I thought Chi-Chi's and Eat N Park were good. Probably late 30's/early 40's.. I learned to appreciate food. Kinda like I stopped drinking Coors Light because it was cheap to enjoying a craft beer or Guinness.

      I agree with Oliver - Tamari is great (some are squeamish on the "raw fish" idea though).. Ibiza is great for tapas. What about Brgr (attached to Spoon)? Maybe a "higher end" burger..?

      1. re: burghgal

        Ironically sushi and any raw fish is the easiest sell, but I m not a seafood person. hahah
        Tamari seems like a awesome place. Brgr, is a great idea!! My hardest deal as of late, is to get a girl to stop eating like a moron.(not to sound mean lol ) Brgr is a wonderful transitions.

        Any other suggestoins are welcomed... and Chi-Chi's is deeply missed.

    2. I've come across the same thing with my age group (early 20s) but I also think it's the area. I'm a quality over quantity type - which seems pretty atypical for the area. You're not necessarily going to be able to get people to give up that "value" mindset they have towards their endless pasta, salad, and breadsticks combo at the olive garden.

      Tamari is a great transition spot, try and bring your friends during happy hour when they offer the half priced robata grill. They'll feel they are getting their "value" and also get to experience the bacon and quail egg robata skewer.

      salt of the earth might be the next step- fine dining without the pretentiousness, or price tag. I think it can show even non "foodies" the fun that a quality meal can be.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Rodzilla

        i'm in my late 20's. most of my friends do enjoy great food and none of us are into chains and we all live in pittsburgh although most of us are in the city? anyways, my ideas to expand people's minds safely would definitely be: brgr, yo rita, tamari, silk elephant, soba. If you are thinking of locally owned but good non chain food at a reasonable price, i would throw in: point brugge (mussels, frites, mac & cheese), piccolo forno (everything is affordable but the bolognese lasagna is my fav), fatheads, tessaros.

        1. re: yammers

          Well I've got something to look forward to. FWIW my older friends are usually the ones who are more likely to be enthusiastic about finer dining. It's the 21 and younger crowd that seem to have such a hard time of it.

          1. re: Rodzilla

            Rodzilla, alot might have to deal with the amount of money available to spend. I am 25 and finally getting off my student loans and have a steady income. This is also true with my friends, making it easier for everyone to be able to spend more for one night out. 3 years ago, I wsa lucky to find $30 for a whole weekend let alone half a meal. Yo Ritas is something i am very anxious to try!!!

            For me , most of my friends equate good food with fancy establishments. This is such a hard stigma to get around. Some of my stratgies was to actually take a group of friends out and pay.. just to show them, its not a painfull experience and can be a laid back atomoshpere.

            Yo Rita
            1120 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

            1. re: Augie6

              take 'em to the O. or to babe's place. there are plenty of awesome places that don't need boku bucks to go.

              Also: some people equate "good food" with "not enough beer to have fun."

              1. re: Chowrin

                The "O" is fun, loud, trashy, and good after the bars close food. It doesn't belong in this conversation.

                1. re: yayadave

                  Spending Money doesn't always mean a good food and good food doesn't always cost a lot of money. I have to agree with yayadave, the O is a great bar munchie place, but not a destination.

                  Chowrin, I do agree with the not enough beer statement. Its practicaly impossible to change a persons mind that just wants to get "hammered" and only eat to sustain drinking all night lol.

                  1. re: Augie6

                    suggested the O because it has the right atmosphere. something that no one, bar none, would feel was too uptight for them. A place that says, "hang out have fun."
                    Agree that if the O is more than a mile from ya, ya shouldn't be going. That said, still gonna rec it, b/c I knew seniors at CMU who said, "where's flagstaff hill?" ;-)

                    In other parts of the city, what "surprisingly good" wouldja recommend?

      2. I went to Brgr last week. I was thoroughly impressed with our food. I had the Button Buster (beef burger with short ribs), wife had the Localvore (lamb burger) and we split some onion rings for lunch. Both burgers were exceptional. Real complex flavors and well executed. I highly recommend and will be returning when I'm back in the 'Burgh.