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Oct 23, 2011 06:42 PM

PGH Restaurant -Parents Weekend

Hello Pittsburgh Chowhounds!

We will be heading to Pitt for family weekend and want to treat our freshman daughter to a nice dinner out. Looking for a restaurant that has good seafood on the menu but other than that we are open to any cuisine. A quick look on opentable's best of list led me to Monterey Bay Fish Grotto and SOBA Lounge which both get high ratings for food and ambiance. What are you opinions of these restaurants? Are there other ones I should consider?

Thanks for any recommendations you can give!

SOBA Lounge
5847 Elllsworth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto
145 Mall Circle Dr, Monroeville, PA 15146

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  1. Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is up on Mt. Washington, so you will get a nice to the city. To bring a freshman up here would be a nice change of view. The seafood is not bad, not that memorable either, but this being Pittsburgh and not exactly close to the sea, it's one of the best places to have seafood.

    Edit: I just realized that there are two Monterey Bay restaurants, one on Mt Washington, another one in Monroeville. The one in Mt Washington is definitely closer and has a nicer view.

    As for Soba, I have never been there. But it's in Shadyside, a neighborhood where young professionals & college kids tend to cluster. There are actually a lot of nice restaurants around that area too-- with nice mixture of ethnic food from Ethiopian to Pan Asian to French.

    1. Soba is one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh, but if the weather is nice, I would go for Monterey Bay. The food is good and the view really is spectacular!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Burghfeeder

        I completely agree with Burghfeeder. Soba is a very good restaurant, and I enjoy it immensely. However, I think you'll be hard pressed to beat the experience at Monterey Bay, based on the loose parameters of the OP. The view is absolutely incredible - you should attempt to get a seat near the window - and it is some of the best seafood in the city.

      2. Soba is by far a better restaurant and one that a college student would be happy to experience. Monteray Bay is over priced and not that good. Go to the outlooks on Mt. Washington before heading to Shadyside for dinner at Soba.

        1. We were just in the 'burgh this past weekend and took our seafood-deprived Pitt freshman to Mallorca on the rec of a friend. Location is South Side. Seafood was very well prepared, atmosphere is casual, and there was great saffron rice served for all. There were MANY seafood (and other dishes) specials that were not on the menu. Another great place if you like mussels (although other seafood there was also well prepared) is Point Brugge Cafe located in Point Breeze

          Mallorca Restaurant
          2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

          Point Brugge Cafe
          401 Hastings St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

          1. I wasn't crazy about SOBA when I visited. I much prefer UMI upstairs, they're very Nobu-esq. Japanese dishes and sushi.

            Monterey Bay, I've never been, but I know it's a chain.

            Spoon in east liberty is another higher end place with fantastic food and a good selection of seafood items.

            if you're really into experiencing some higher end and exciting food check out Notion in Oakmont (short trip outside the city) They're actually doing a seafood tasting menu on the 29th if you're looking for a really, really, memorable experience. Otherwise, a la carte items will include fish. It will also be less busy given that you're outside of the city.

            Tamari in Lawrenceville is a may fit, they're a bit like SOBA but it can get pretty packed and loud on a weekend.

            Salt of The Earth is one of Pitts best, but they will undoubtedly be packed on a weekend, you could try and get a reservation for the upstairs dining area, but I would recommend calling now.

            Eleven is another option, their Big Burrito's restaurant group's premier place. (same group as SOBA, UMI, and others)

            I've reviewed most of these places on my site if you care to take a look.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Rodzilla

              Salt of the Earth is my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh right now. Most everthing I've had there has been delicious, and they always have a few seafood options. However, Salt is a little more adventurous than, and the menu is a little more limited, so I hesitate to suggest it unless the query is more specific or I have more information about the diners.

              Eleven is another very good option. I always genuinely enjoy my food there. All the seafood items I remember having have been extremely well executed, and the menu is a little more accessible than Salt.

              I also agree with Rodzilla in believing UMI is superior to SOBA. I actually tend to conflate the two from time-to-time and, as a result, inflate my opinion of SOBA when I generally dine at UMI.

              I've only been to Spoon twice but had great experiences both times. Wonderful food, and a decent selection of seafood items, IIRC.

              One note: Monterey Bay is not a chain. The owners changed the Rodi Grille in Monroeville to Monterey Bay. It was a hit; they opened the Mt. Washington location. Another hit; they opened a location in Tyson's Corner. Didn't work; it closed. Now, it's just the Monroeville and Mt. Washington locations (the Mt. Washington location being superior), and both are still owned by the original owners of the Rodi Grille.

              1. re: MonMauler

                thanks for the correction Mon, I was unaware. Perhaps I'll finally make a visit at some point.