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Apr 26, 2012 12:33 PM

kid-friendly weekday lunch in Pittsburgh (& a dinner)

Next month, we'll be making a family road trip into PA and our last day brings us through Pittsburgh for one overnight and part of a day. The plan, as I know so far, is to visit the Children's Museum in the morning, then grab lunch before heading home. We'd prefer NOT to eat at the cafe inside the museum.

What might our lunch options be for a Friday lunchtime that's not too far from the museum? (FWIW, we'd be headed out of town toward Akron, OH.) No chains, any menu ok (my almost-4yr old isn't picky), casual preferred.

Also, any thoughts on a good quality (but kid friendly) dinner spot in Pittsburgh for that Thurs. evening when we get into town? I don't know the hotel location yet -- still working on that. Again, any menu ok, even ethnic if it's good. No chains. Someplace we can experience 'only in Pittsburgh'.


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  1. Six Penn is downtown but just across the bridge from the North Shore...if you are staying in town. Has good kid options, also brick oven pizza, wings.
    If you are looking for a sandwich place for lunch Peppi's on Western Av. is popular. Subs and sandwiches.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Effort

      Thanks! Six Penn looks good. What would you say their specialty is? Also, you say that Peppi's is 'popular'... but is the food itself any good (I know plenty of popular places that, well, I wonder why they are)? What would you recommend there?

      1. re: jroach

        Peppi's is just a little sub/sandwich shop. Better than most but nothing great it is just sandwiches. Bettis grill recommended by burghfeeder would work for kids and lunch food is good for a sports bar.

        1. re: jroach

          I'd argue against Bettis Grill. It's just a sports bar with slightly more food options. Ate there once with a large group (family) and nobody was particularly pleased with their food. It definitely has the chain restaurant vibe.

          We've taken our kids to Dinette in East Liberty/Shadyside and had no problem. Not necessarily a cheap family dinner, but great food: pizzas and apps. Focus is on simple food, high quality ingredients.

          Also, Church Brew Works is definitely a good option with kids. Some good food (not universally great) and the interior is something to behold. Get the perogie of the day.

      2. The North Side has a number of good choices. One that comes to mind is the Bettis Grille. While its sort of a sports bar, the food is pretty good and the atmosphere is good for kids.

        1. I would go to the Church Brew Works (suggested above) for that dinner. It's fairly kid friendly I would think and is an unusual setting, maybe not totally unique but certainly isn't one you find every day.

          Having just visited, I would actually have lunch at the cafe in the museum. Although, if the goal is to have the kids out of there at lunch and know that they won't be able to go back for more, I can understand. The food is decent for lunch, though, and the pricing is reasonable. Other than that I've been trying to think of something worthwhile that would take you north of the city on your way home, but I'm not really certain of anything to suggest.

          10 Replies
          1. re: CrazyOne

            Thanks for the report on the cafe food. Typically, I figure most of these in-house snack places are overpriced and often have a menu of hotdogs/burgers/grilled-cheese that caters to kids who exist on those things (my kid is hit or miss on all of the above). Glad to hear it's decent. If our timing ends up as such that we have to eat there, it sounds doable. I was also thinking an outside restaurant would enable us to eat at a more local type place (and I know my kid's attention span -- there's no way he'd last past 3 hours in a museum of any kind, LOL).

            1. re: jroach

              Please report back and fill us in on what you decided to do. I also agree that the Church Brew Works would be another good spot, and the food is quite good, not to mention the beautiful surroundings.


              1. re: jroach

                You might be surprised. Although I did not witness the childrens' activities, this museum certainly kept a roughly 2.8-year-old ;-) occupied for about 4 hours including the lunch, and he might have gone longer if given the opportunity (we decided upon a set pickup time in the afternoon). It was a weekday so we went to work, only the kid and mother went to the museum, and we met there for lunch. So I can personally attest to the lunch but not the rest of the place. But our visitors were most impressed and would highly recommend it. Tip: I know your kid is a year older, but apparently one regret was that they didn't have a change of clothes. I guess one of the rooms has a water play activity that can cause at least some kids to get overly wet. ;-)

                This link goes to the cafe page from which you can get the full regular menu and the daily specials for 2 weeks looks like. (Those won't be the right ones until you get closer to your trip, but it will give you an idea of some of the things they do.) They do actually serve grilled cheese, burgers and hotdogs, but they have a good number of other things too. And reasonable pricing. All of us adults commented on that. The kid, though, ate a grilled cheese. Ah well. ;-) Anyway, not amazing stuff by any measure, just well above average for this type of facility. From that web page you can also get through to the rest of the museum info which will give you an idea of the activities that are available there.

                If you still find you want to leave the museum at lunch I suppose you could hit up something like Max's Allegheny Tavern, which is German food. Newer place Nicky's Thai Kitchen might work as well as long as your lunch day is not Sunday (okay, you say Friday in original post, so that should work). These are near the museum and not too far off your route home.

                1. re: CrazyOne

                  Thank you. :) I'm happy to hear a 'report' regarding the museum itself, as well as the cafe. I'm impressed that they have 'specials' at all, and they look pretty good (as do the prices). It's good to have the German and Thai recs as well. I really don't know where we'll end up, but it sure is nice to have some option in my back pocket. Oh, and BTW, our travel dates have shifted slightly. Pittsburgh arrival will be Monday night, staying one night. We'd be looking at a Mon. dinner and Tues. lunch, so I just have to check and see which places are open on Mondays.

                  1. re: jroach

                    Not too many places are closed Mondays in the downtown vicinity that I can think of. Although someone mentioned Dinette above I think; they are closed Mondays so scratch that idea.

                    1. re: CrazyOne

                      An UPDATE. We've just established we'll be staying in the University Center area at Quality Inn. Google shows me a few places right nearby (walking distance)... any of these worth a visit? Lezzet Turkish & Mediterranean, Mad Mex, Korea Garden, Larry & Carol's Pizza, Campus Deli... anything? It's the college part of town, so there could be some gems OR some dives in there. Thoughts?

                      1. re: jroach

                        The Porch is good.
                        Union grill is popular for sandwiches, burgers but have not been to it.

                        1. re: jroach

                          Mad Mex is fun, sorta quasi-Mexican-inspired, works great with a kid typically. It's a chain but a local one, and that's the original location. Be aware that walk is uphill somewhat significantly if I remember right. ;-)

                          Spice Island Tea House is a sort of hole in the wall ethnic place: I've been there just once but liked the food. Could probably still walk here, it's also on Atwood.

                          You'd probably want to drive to The Porch. Might be worth it though if you want a little bit nicer dinner. I haven't been.

                          Of course if you're going to drive you could choose some other places too. You could still go to the Church Brew Works if that appealed before, it's not really that far.

                          1. re: CrazyOne

                            Thanks for all the info. I wish our time in Pittsburgh would have been a bit longer. I know we'll be back though and I'd love to try some of these other places. When we arrived into town, our 3yr old hadn't napped and it was already 6pm, so we opted for a quickie dinner at the Union Grill on S. Craig St. I had the Greek Salad which was surprisingly good. Along with the 'usual' kalamata olives, feta, cucumbers, etc. they also included figs. Nice! I've not seen that before, especially at a casual place like that. DH had the California Salad and he opted to add grilled salmon to it. He enjoyed that very much. I tasted a bit and it was good. Nice, fresh greens (as mine had) and a tasty honey-mustard dressing. Definitely homemade dressings there! Our son wanted the mac n cheese, but they were all out of it, so his 2nd choice was the kids meal fish sandwich -- minus the bun (we subbed a garlic breadstick). We also subbed out the potatoes/fries with the regular sauteed veggies. The fish portion was HUGE for a kids meal, but very good -- nicely breaded/fried and not greasy. Veggies were a mix of asparagus, red/yellow peppers (all good) and pea pods (kinda stringy and tough). Aside from the peas and the sysco-esque breadstick, the meal was good.

                            As for lunch the next day, we had stayed so long at the museum that we opted to just eat at the cafe there, the Big Red Room. It was decent and the prices weren't out of line. I had the burger, DH had the special of the day wrap (New Orleans chicken, I believe) and DS got chicken tenders w/ fruit cup. Yeah, decent, got the job done. We were on the road by about 3pm.

                            One little extra bonus stop in the area that we made was Hank's Frozen Custard and Mexican, a place I found mentioned here (or maybe it was on someone's blog I clicked on). Definitely a unique little gem of a place! It's in New Brighton and was on our way home. I was super curious about the walk-up window place that had both ice cream (well, custard) AND Mexican food in the same place. The 3 of us split a bean soft taco, just to try (we were mostly in the mood for frozen custard, but how often do you come across a place like this?). I liked it. Or maybe it just tasted good with my black raspberry shake. DH's cold treat was a basic hot fudge sundae and DS decided (finally!) on a rainbow sherbet cone. We enjoyed the food and the novelty of the combination. The next time we head out to Pittsburgh, I'd find a way to swing by again.

                            1. re: jroach

                              Great to hear you found some good things. Hank's is definitely a great find. I've never partaken of the Mexican food, always surprised at how popular that is in fact, although out in Beaver County there aren't as many places to get even quasi-Mexican stuff. The funny thing is they've been serving that for decades. But certainly frozen custard is an awesome way to cool off the burn of Mexican so I guess in that way it goes together. The custard is great, great stuff.

                              Here's the more current web site: