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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 www.mallorcarestaurant.com 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 www.pointbrugge.com 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.

            2. Thanks for all the great advice! You guys are great!

              2 Replies
                1. re: rocknroll52

                  Although a steak restaurant, The Capital Grill has great seafood.

                2. We decided on Montery Bay Fish Grotto and it turned out to be a great choice! I think my daughter felt very pampered by the elegant atmosphere and the fabulous view, The food was impressive- we especially enjoyed the appetizers- the ahi tempura and the crabcakes were both standouts. The fresh fish choices were a bit overwhelming- too many choices! The salmon strawbery style came recommended by our server and was very good for an unexpected combination. We also tried the orange basil halibut which was very tasty (though my husband swore the fish was cod); the swordfish oscar was amazing; and the grouper monterey style with black olives and artichokes pleased my husband very much. Also enjoyed a side of lobster mac n cheese. We don't usually get desserts but they were all so tempting and made for a sweet conclusion to the meal. The service was attentive and overall it was a memorable if somewhat overindulgent dining experience!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rocknroll52

                    thanks for checking back in! It's always nice when CH'rs come back to report on their choices. Glad to hear you had a good time, maybe I'll finally have to give this place a try.

                    1. re: Rodzilla

                      I agree with Rodzilla. It's always great when the board members come back and report in. Much appreciated.

                      And I'm glad you guys enjoyed your meal.

                  2. Hello again! and once again I am planning a parent's weekend dinner with my daughter at Pitt. Looking back over this thread, and at my copies of Pittsburgh magazine (best restaurants and beer issues!) I came up with these options:

                    Soba Lounge
                    Dish Osteria and Bar

                    . My criteria is a restaurant with good food that will feel like a special occasion but not as over the top formal as Monterey Fish Grotto where we went last year. I threw in Hofrbrauhaus as a choice because it looked like fun and we love beer. Let me know opinions on these!


                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rocknroll52

                      i'd suggest the east end sharp edge over hofbrauhaus...

                      1. re: Chowrin

                        forgive my lack of knowledge of pgh geography- I see there are 5 sharp edge establishments which one is in the "east end"? What is the atmosphere like?

                        1. re: rocknroll52

                          The beer emporium. short walk from cmu/pitt for students (a mile or two).

                          Eating there is like getting a slice of pittsburgh -- blue collar workers to college professors (students too).
                          Good crowd, somewhat noisy on game nights.

                          Food's decent too.

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            thanks I'll put it on my list of beer places to visit- maybe not for this particular dinner though (daughter being under 21 the beer would just be an attraction for my husband and me)

                      2. re: rocknroll52

                        so apparently my last post was taken down for providing a direct link.

                        I think Spoon has the atmosphere you're looking for, and the food is some of the best in Pittsburgh.


                        1. re: Rodzilla

                          Rodzilla, thanks again for your help! Spoon sounds amazing. Apparently my prior note of thanks was removed. You have some very active moderators here,

                          1. re: rocknroll52

                            haha that we do, glad you saw the recommendation and you're very welcome.

                      3. Just wanted to let you know we had a lovely dinner at Spoon thanks very much for the recommendation. The atmosphere was just what I was looking for! The service was excellent, and the wines by the glass delicious!

                        As to the food, I was very impressed, although some dishes shone more than others. The server said that the menu changes frequently, so I don't know if these items are going to be on the menu again, but the kabocha squash soup was delicious and beautifully presented! The wild boar sausage appetizer was not as well received. There was something "off" about the taste of it. The best entree ordered was the dry aged strip and short ribs. I ordered the crispy skin salmon,. which was very good if not particularly memorable.

                        The desserts were really a highlight of the meal. Each dessert features a particular ingredient, and we tried all four of them: chocolate, apple, pear and butternut squash. The spoon bar was especially decadent. Definitely recommend saving room for dessert!

                        We also ended up trying the Beer Emporium which was a great casual restaurant with an overwhelming selection of beer. The burgers were good here, I also tried the mussels which were not great. Very moderate prices for the food, and a homey feeling, also it was not crowded! The front room is more bar like with flat screen TVs while the back room is quieter and more restaurant like. Would come again.

                        I have really been enjoying getting to know Pittsburgh and sampling its restaurants. Thanks to all who give such great advice here!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rocknroll52

                          Thanks very much for reporting back, so glad to hear you had a good time!

                          I've never had boar sausage, but I would suspect that it would be pretty gamy flavor which may seem "off" to some.

                          I have had the short ribs at spoon though and totally agree, really, really great.

                          I definitely need to stop back next time I'm in town.