Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
Apr 16, 2011 07:04 AM

Must Eats in PGH

Hi! My husband and I will be moving away from Pittsburgh in a few months after a year of living here. We've been able to experience a lot of great Pittsburgh eats...Primanti's, Pamelas, Deluca's, etc. but want to make sure we're not missing anything before we head out. Where should we go and what should we eat?

Is there a best place for pierogies and a fish sandwich?

We live in Lawrenceville and have a baby, so nothing too far afield and anything open at lunch is better than dinnertime (since it's also the baby's bedtime.)


Deluca's Restaurant
2015 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The best fish sandwiches are at Penn Avenue Fish Company, either in the Strip (they close at 4 PM, so you have to go for lunch) or downtown on Forbes Ave. Or you can get salads or sushi. So good, you won't want to move.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Jay F

      Well, Penn Ave Fish has the best fish in town, yeah, and great sandwiches, and if you like that kind of thing you might want to try before you go because it's very good, but if you want to try a traditional Pittsburgh fish sandwich (huge hunk of some white fish, battered or breaded, and fried) then that's not the place.

      Oyster House (Market Square, downtown) is a good tradition. Benkovitz, in the Strip, that would be a little closer to you, although really although it was good recently I think Oyster House is my favorite. (PIcking a favorite is kinda like picking a favorite cheesesteak in Philly.) Or, since it's still Lent, head out on Friday to a local church fish fry, that's a Pittsburgh tradition for sure. There should be one in your neighborhood, although not all will actually still be doing it on Good Friday. (Lent ends on Easter, next Sunday the 24th, so you'd have to do that this week, to one that's actually open on Good Friday.)

      You could make a must eat list a mile long or very short depending upon what you like, budget, etc. I mean, we could say eat at Salt of the Earth before you go, right? If that's your thing. They open at 5 so you'd have to go at opening time. It's not too far afield at all. :-) I haven't been but it's a place worthy of special trips by all accounts.

      Dinette is one I like very much although they too open at 5.

      I suppose the validity of some places will vary depending upon where you are decamping to. I mean, if you're moving to NYC, that's very different than if you're moving to an even smaller town where you won't have the variety that is here.

      1. re: CrazyOne

        >>>>Well, Penn Ave Fish has the best fish in town, yeah, and great sandwiches, and if you like that kind of thing you might want to try before you go because it's very good, but if you want to try a traditional Pittsburgh fish sandwich (huge hunk of some white fish, battered or breaded, and fried) then that's not the place.


        Because nothing new and different will *ever* be as good in Pittsburgh as doing it the way we've been doing it since my grandmother's grandmother was born.

        1. re: Jay F

          You can rant about that if you like. But don't attribute that attitude to me or my post. That should not have AT ALL been implied from the way my post reads. Indeed I am right there with you on the "OMG that's not the way we've always done it" reaction. But:

          If people are asking about pierogies and a fish sandwich before leaving town, I'm definitely thinking they're talking about the traditional fried one. They're rattling off traditional foods alright? Sheesh. And if you're not familiar, you might walk into Penn Ave Fish expecting to get a fried sandwich. They don't have one. And that's cool. They have lots of other fantastic stuff.

          I love both Penn Ave Fish Co and a fried fish sandwich. Each has its place. What the hell is the problem with that?

          1. re: CrazyOne

            It must have been your "if you like that kind of thing" line.

            1. re: Jay F

              Not everyone does. Shrug. Their loss.

              I could use the same line for Salt of the Earth. Some people are not interested, even the ones reading here.

              1. re: CrazyOne

                I've never been to Salt. Every time I look at their menu online, nothing really draws me in. Only two things look even semi-interesting to me on today's menu. One is the softshell crab, only it has seaweed and horseradish. The other is the bass, but it has coconut.

                And too bad. It's so close.


                1. re: Jay F

                  Jay, I never wanted to bring that up on this board. Salt's menu never has anything that I want to go eat.. ( I am not saying that thier food would not be great) I look at thier menu and am at a lose at what I would eat. (not eating seafood doens't help)

                  1. re: Augie6

                    It's really a leap thing for a lot of people, I guess. I haven't rushed to try Salt either. People I trust say the experience is fantastic. I like the idea of sitting at the counter watching the kitchen as well. But you basically have to trust the chef and not have too many food aversions for it to be truly appealing.

                    It's clearly a worthy suggestion. It's up to others to decide if they are open to it. Unusual combinations are a hallmark for Sousa it seems to me, but it's not like he doesn't know what he's doing. I have little doubt it's going to taste good, but it's not for the picky eater for sure.

                    1. re: CrazyOne

                      I dined at Salt. It's definitely not for everyone. People complained about the portion sizes -- really? Does everything have to be Olive Garden (slop) sizes? I had the Tilefish in Dashi broth.. the levels of flavors, food was wonderful. Powdered bacon was really cool in the cheese plate (dessert for us::)). The combinations aren't that obvious.. not like you'll find a pile of coffee grinds on a plate... the flavors are subtle.

                      Olive Garden
                      83 E City Ave, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

                      1. re: burghgal

                        Portion size is Wester PA is a huge issue. I believe that the "bank for your buck" mentallity is just feed into our brains. (I also fall into that trap at times)

                    2. re: Augie6

                      Here's from today's menu :

                      Sashimi* $10: escolar, prickly pear, horseradish, shiso. I love fish, Augie, so I might like this, except for the horseradish. And the escolar (read this:

                      Mackerel* $9: uni, cauliflower, cabbage, coffee, banana. I don't care for cauliflower or (especially) cooked cabbage.

                      And the entrees I'd choose are the same as those in yesterday's menu.

                      No Salt for me.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        That escolar dish is one of my favorites. The horseradish you mention is a bit of a play off wasabi, but is actually a powder (not sure exactly how they pull it off - do they use maltodextrin? I dunno) with a very light consistency and without the pungency or heat of fresh horseradish. If heat from the horseradish is your concern, it's not a major problem here.

                        Also, your link to escolar doesn't work. But if you're noting its... um... possible digestive effects, then you can also rest assured - there's not enough of it on Salt's dish to have those effects, which to my knowledge, are only known to occur at portions over 6 ounces. Beyond that - escolar makes the most heavenly delicious sashimi. I first tried it as a novelty, but I was blown away - totally worth the risk, IMO.

                        Also, people have been mentioning that people might be put off by modest portion sizes - given the context of much of Pittsburgh's dining scene and the expectation of Cheesecake Factory sized portions, I can see how this might be an issue. But I just wanted to point out to any lurkers that Salt is not one of those big plate, tiny portion restaurants. An app, main, and desert should be plenty to fill most hungry adults.

                        I agree though that Salt is not for everyone. Crazyone said above: "you basically have to trust the chef and not have too many food aversions for it to be truly appealing." I second this statement.

                    3. re: Jay F

                      I'm not sure why horseradish or coconut would somehow be a turnoff.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          I guess my confusion is that I assume many people who come to chowhound, as opposed to say Urbanspoon or Yelp, like to eat many different things. In this string you've ruled out horseradish, coconut, cabbage, and cauliflower. I have to assume your list of foods you don't like might be fairly extensive based on that sampling, so I'd think you'd have a hard time finding a restaurant you like that offers anything beyond what's offered at most chains.

                          Sorry, that kind of thing just always perplexes me. If you like to eat good food and search out good places to eat, it has to be difficult if you're a somewhat picky eater.

                          1. re: Whigsboy

                            Whigs, fwiw, I detest cooked cauliflower and am not a coconut fan. I don't seek out horseradish, although I'll eat it, and I generally only eat cabbage when prepared as kim chi or golumbki or cole slaw because it just does nothing for me when presented as 'cabbage'. Don't ever tell me there's raisins in a dish and the only time a green pea passes my lips is when it's discreetly hidden in a samosa, .

                            I'll try anything once and have eaten a hundred other things (grasshoppers, worms, spleen, testes, corn fungus, brains - on a pizza, no less, etc.) that would revulse many, some of which was cooked and served in conditions that get people wondering how I wasn't hospitalized.

                            So yeah, I'd suggest that to pick a small list of stuff that someone doesn't like and then try to label them is a tad unfair. Especially in light of Jay's history of posts which implies he gets around a bit and is well beyond the safety of chain restos.

                            Jay - all I'll say about Salt is this. Kevin Sousa made me like brussels sprouts. At least for one night. Give it a try man. It's a place where regardless what was served in a particular dish, I'd be confident I'd find more things I liked than didn't on my plate. And at the price range (relative to other top places) you can afford to experiment.

                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                Maybe I will try it someday, PG. But is it really so much for me to expect to be seduced a little by a menu?

                                And thanks for having my back.

          2. oyster house fish sandwich with buttermilk

            1. tessaro's. tram's. the new how lee. The original hot dog shop (in oakland)

              4 Replies
              1. re: Chowrin

                The dirty O. lol It is fun experience. Give it a try.

                1. re: Effort

                  Yes, definitely get some fries at the O! Haven't been there in so long that I completely forgot about it!

                2. re: Chowrin

                  Can I get an exposition on the new How Lee? It looks like it's been busy every time I've gone by lately. I am a huge fan of the Rose Tea Cafe just two doors down.

                  Rose Tea Cafe
                  5874 1/2 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

                  1. re: Daveman84

                    the rose tea cafe is Cantonese style. True chinese cooking... but much more tending towards fish.
                    The New How Lee is Sichuan. Hot, Numbing, and Vinegar. Ask for the food extra spicy -- you won't be disappointed.
                    Also, you want to order off the non-American menu (though their Hunan chicken is outstanding). the non-American Kung Pao Chicken has szechuan peppercorns, and oh so many chilis!

                3. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Very close to you in the Strip is S&D Polish Deli that has really good pierogies. My favorite fish sandwich in the Strip is as Roland's. Benkovitz and Wholey's are good also.