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Help a NYC Chowhound out in Pittsburgh!

lichow Oct 28, 2012 08:36 AM

I have never been to the city, and am coming along with husband at conference--I am the NYC foodie for lack of a better word, so they have put me in charge of the ONLY night we have out in town, this Thursday. 10 people most likely, we are staying at WIndham downtown, and I like to find what locals consider the very best (that doesn't mean most high-end or expensive). Would love to be able to walk or easy (two) cabs there --what is a not-miss?

And please let me know if I can help you in NYC.


  1. w
    Whigsboy Nov 1, 2012 12:47 PM

    My vote would be for Spoon, if they can accommodate your group. Last two meals there have been excellent, and that includes the cocktails. Service was also really good. I like Salt, but think it's a little overrated.

    I would have said Cure, but doubt they could handle a group of that size and it's still BYOB, although that's apparently going to be changing soon. That said, it's worth a call to see if they could do a group of 10.

    Enjoy the 'burgh!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Whigsboy
      lichow Nov 12, 2012 05:45 AM

      Thanks to Chowhounders for such excellent suggestions....I really enjoyed Pittsburgh and all the mid-century architecture, very nice people (almost unreal-ly nice) and walkability downtown where we stayed.

      We ended up taking a big group (10) to Salt of The Earth which worked PERFECTLY with those trestle tables. I found the food mostly fabulous....a little bit of attitude which I secretly smiled at (come on--several of us were NYers; we know from attitude) but loved the layout and vibe.

      I found the blackboard kind of difficult to see, and thought the way the dishes were listed on that board odd--I almost didn't order the duck dish because it listed shiso so prominently and I don't love that flavor but it was a very minor note.
      Loved the wines by the glass selections....and those who had cocktails were very happy (they looked great).
      Food was, as said above, terrific--the duck dish with flageolets and persimmons was MAJOR WINNER as was the crab appetizer. The highly-touted "30-hour short ribs"--not so much. Very DRY, which seems hard to believe if it was braised for 30 hours (it WAS soft). Where was all that good braising liquid or gravy? Odd.....and dry. Also worth mentioning was the strange soup bowls which made the portion of soup look so miniscule.

      Desserts tasted far better than they sounded on the board. Curry? In my chocolate? It actually worked but so, so odd to feature it so prominently in the listing. Well worth the money and a nice ride to get there.

      Thanks again!

      1. re: lichow
        Panini Guy Nov 13, 2012 08:29 AM

        Glad to hear you enjoyed Salt. Did you get anywhere else worth discussing?

        1. re: Panini Guy
          lichow Feb 2, 2013 12:49 PM

          (blushing) Just Primanti's....twice. (hey even chefs eat at Nathan's here in NYC!)
          Unfortunately we got stuck in convention dinners in hotel. I really enjoyed Pittsburgh and plan to visit again. Great town to walk.

        2. re: lichow
          cowboyardee Nov 13, 2012 11:31 AM

          "The highly-touted "30-hour short ribs"--not so much. Very DRY, which seems hard to believe if it was braised for 30 hours (it WAS soft). Where was all that good braising liquid or gravy?"
          I haven't tried the dish, but the short ribs were almost certainly cooked sous vide, and probably without liquid.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            lichow Feb 2, 2013 12:51 PM

            Understood.....but they were sadly lacking. Puzzling in comparison to the rest of the meal.

        3. re: Whigsboy
          Owtahear Nov 12, 2012 08:48 AM

          I thought I read where Cure got a liquor license. Not sure when it goes into effect. But I think now.

          1. re: Owtahear
            mb luvs SBH Nov 12, 2012 08:56 AM

            We have eaten at Salt just once and the food was terrific. We also loved the ambiance and the room. I agree the chalkboard was difficult and somewhat awkward to read. Since we had reservations for upstairs, we had to stand by another table to look it over. I prefer to peruse a menu with a cocktail or glass of wine. However, this was one small issue out of an overall wonderful evening.

            1. re: mb luvs SBH
              twg Dec 21, 2012 01:47 PM

              I use the online menu when ordering

        4. b
          Burghfeeder Oct 29, 2012 11:13 AM

          Panini's choices are all very good. I just wanted to mention that you may want to confirm your transportation in advance. Unfortutantly, Pittsburgh cabs are lacking. You won't have a problem getting one at the hotel, but you won't be able to just flag one down when you leave the restaurant. It shouldn't be a problem to make arrangements, just be aware!


          1 Reply
          1. re: Burghfeeder
            lichow Oct 31, 2012 04:10 PM

            That is a great suggestion, thanks. Now if our airline will be so cooperative from NYC!

          2. p
            Panini Guy Oct 28, 2012 04:57 PM

            Something I've been meaning to do
            Map of all 25 restaurants along with the top 5 coffeehouses (determined by me).

            2 Replies
            1. re: Panini Guy
              mb luvs SBH Oct 28, 2012 05:19 PM

              Great map! Thanks for sharing.

              1. re: Panini Guy
                lichow Oct 28, 2012 05:42 PM

                Really great map; along with those recommendations I am all set. Thank you so much.

              2. p
                Panini Guy Oct 28, 2012 01:28 PM

                Take a look at this first: http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pit...

                Of those 25, four are more or less walkable from your hotel (Meat & Potatoes, Nine on Nine, Penn Av. Fish, Eleven). Some of these are several blocks away, so your party might want to cab it anyway. All should be able to handle a party of 10 on a Thursday.

                The most celebrated restaurant in Pgh is Salt of the Earth. That's a cab. It's not very expensive and they can certainly handle large parties as it's mostly communal tables. Apps are around $10, most entrees low $20s, short wine list, short beer list (all microbrews), short list of designer cocktails (not really a call-your-own-booze place). It's a chef-driven no substitution place with unusual and creative uses of ingredients, so if any of your party is a fussy eater, you'll probably want to look elsewhere (although they'll work with allergies and vegans).

                Legume is a little closer in Oakland (still a cab) but also a very good choice. Root 174, Spoon and Cure are the current hotness - If one strikes your fancy, call ahead to see if they can take a 10 person party. Casbah, Umi & Soba are all fairly spacious, although you can do better in NY in each style.

                As I used to live out your way, my other thought was "what would impress a jaded NYer?" and the funny thing is none of those 25 came up - I'd actually suggest a pigout at Union Pig & Chicken (owned/operated by same chef as Salt of the Earth). Barbecue in Manhattan is way too pricey and UP&C is as good/better than Blue Smoke or Virgil's. :-)

                4 Replies
                1. re: Panini Guy
                  lichow Oct 28, 2012 01:40 PM

                  Wow, fabulous--this gives me a great overview; thanks so much. We actually eat a lot of barbecue as it's The Big Thing this last year. Salt of The Earth looks really, really good.

                  1. re: lichow
                    Panini Guy Oct 28, 2012 02:35 PM

                    Report back and let us know what you thought!
                    Hope you're not trying to get here in next couple of days... ugly. Hopefully the Wyndham doesn't float away.

                  2. re: Panini Guy
                    Effort Nov 2, 2012 09:25 AM

                    Agree with Panini Guy. In Weirton, DeeJays BBQ is popular. Have not been in years but it is still popular.

                    1. re: Effort
                      Effort Nov 2, 2012 01:00 PM

                      Sorry, this is on the wrong question.

                  3. s
                    sal_acid Oct 28, 2012 12:59 PM

                    A lot of this turf is covered here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/873285

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