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Feb 15, 2013 08:05 AM

Recommendation needed Pittsburgh area for Cheap Eats but exceptional food.

Family of 4 looking for lunch or dinner restaurant recommendations With these parameters;
1. Quality food, any ethnicity
2. Beer or wine selection not needed
3. Value, $$ at most
4. Relatively safe neighborhood
5. Ambiance should be second to the food

Thanks in advance

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  1. Some that are good and not expensive.
    Il Pizzaiolo for pizza and pasta.
    Nicky's Thai Kitchen on the Northside.
    Smoke Barbeque Taquaeria for interested smoked tacos, in Homestead.BYOB
    Thin Man Sandwiches in the strip for sandwich.
    Point Brugge Cafe, but a little more expensive for dinner.
    Wingharts for a burger.
    Kaya is popular, not sure of the cost but I don't think it is to expensive.

    1. Penn Ave fish company is a great value if you stay away from the sushi (sushi is great but expensive).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rick

        +1 for Penn Ave Fish Company *for lunch only* @ $10 per item. You can get the most excellent big salads with your choice of salmon, tuna, swordfish, crab, etc., for $8.95-10.95. Two locations, downtown and Strip District.

      2. What's your definition of $$?

        I find Union Pig & Chicken affordable for what you get.

        If that price range is acceptable, that opens up a ton of options.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Panini Guy

          I think Union Pig & Chicken is about as good of BBQ as you can get north of the mason-dixon line, but it pales in comparison to what you will find at any road side shack in the carolina's, any where near Memphis or Texas, for sure.

          Still, it's solid BBQ at a decent price.

          1. re: Panini Guy

            Panni to me $$ converts to a plate costing either side of $10.00. Your recommendation of the Union Pig is spot on cost wise. Please elaborate on your other options, we have another 5 yrs. of visits to the area.

            1. re: jwheely

              A full rack of ribs at Union Pig & Chicken will cost you $20+. Most plates there will set you back $15 or so. Any sides are around $3-$5 a piece. Non-alcoholic beverages are generally $2-$3, but you get free refills for soda, I think.

              1. re: MonMauler

                Mex: Cinco
                Fusion: Tamari (some of the menu in this range)/Yo Rita!
                SE Asia: Smiling Banana Leaf/Pusadee's Garden/Nicky's Thai
                Korean: Korea Garden/Golden Pig/Dosanii
                Middle East: Kassab's/Amels
                Meat: Any of the 'artisan' burger places.

                And of course, Big Jim's in the Run.

                There are more, others can chime in.

                1. re: Panini Guy

                  Here's Big Jim's: I've lived here for years, and I had no idea what or where "the Run" is.

                  PG: I assume this is Cinco:

                  They both look great, btw. Thanks.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    Keep in mind that with Big Jim's, the ambience is the lack of ambience. I stick to the sandwiches. They can feed 3-4.
                    Some humorous reviews on portion sizes here:

                  2. re: Panini Guy

                    I had lunch at Cinco today, and it was the best Mexican meal I have eaten in Pgh.

                    I had something called Minerva Tacos, which were three soft corn tortillas filled w/BBQ beef and cilantro, with a wonderful salsa. I wasn't really able to identify all the flavors. They were served with a standard rice and beans complement. Just delicious.

                    My friend ordered Carne Chalua, and didn't like it as much as I liked mine.

                    Here's the menu.

                    Thanks for the reco, PG.

              1. Thank you to all that posted suggestions. I've saved all the suggestions to evernote for future reference.

                We ended up eating here;
                Fri. night Hoffbrauhaus, not my idea but it was fun the schnitzel was ok until they drown in it some sort of cheese sauce. It was a group dinner, people were having fun.
                Sat. a late lunch at Northside Smoke Taqueria. LOVED IT
                Sat. night mainly because it was close to our hotel and quick we visited Wingharts, I agree with the Shipwreck raves.
                Sun. Waffallonia, nuff said, except we'll be back.

                I'd also like to acknowledge we enjoyed; Phipps Conservatory and the National Aviary.

                One last challenge; Breakfast restaurant suggestions same parameters as lunch and dinner but a MAX. of $7/plate.

                Again, thank you for the comments.

                6 Replies
                1. re: jwheely

                  Oi, I guess I'm late to the party.
                  For breakfast, it's gotta be Pamelas.
                  (Obama liked the pancakes so much he got the chef to make 'em at the White House -- Midwestern style pancakes).

                  The price is well within budget, I promise..

                  1. re: jwheely

                    Unfortunately the best breakfast in Pittsburgh isn't open on weekends: Bluebird Kitchen.

                    1. re: jwheely

                      For bfast, I agree with the Pamela's recommendation. I really like their pancakes and lyonnaise potatoes. They also give you a carafe of coffe, which I think is quaint. I'm also a fan of DeLuca's, also in the strip. It's a traditional, old-school diner. Both places are in the strip (Pamela's has other locations), and you will wait if you get to either place after 9am on the weekend.

                      This opinion is not generally shared on these boards, but I love Primanti's for any meal. It's particularly good for breakfast. The double egg, and bacon egg and cheese are particular bfast favorites, but I could have a cap or a pastrami (egg optional) anytime.

                      There are a lot of small bfast joints that are serviceable and cheap around here.

                      Bluebird is good, but it's a takeout joint. I guess they have the counter seats along the wall and window. The food is good enough, I guess, but it isn't anything spectacular. If you want to take the food back to your hotel or something, I guess it's ok. I've taken plenty of bfasts and sandwiches back to my office, and it's been good. I'm not sure I've seen a sandwich under $7 there, though. They are not open on the weekend. And they don't have table service. This last point is a deal breaker for me if I am looking for a casual breakfast out. Bluebird has far better food, but it is the equivalent of going to McDonald's and getting some coffee and an Egg McMuffin, only the seating is much more limited.

                      Otherwise, if German food interests you, please do not go to the Hofbrauhaus. Max's, in the northside is a much better, and probably cheaper, option. Penn Brewery would probably be between the two.

                      1. re: MonMauler

                        Pamela's might have the worst coffee in all of Pittsburgh. A carafe of the stuff is actually punishment.

                        The "love" for Pamela's and DeLuca's around here actually points out to a huge opportunity for someone to create a better breakfast joint. It seems Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft chain is coming to town soon (not sure where, but they're hiring), so that should be an improvement in this category.

                        1. re: Panini Guy

                          I don't drink coffee anymore (got bronchitis bad one year, permanently lost my taste for it), but the tea at both Pamela's and DeLuca's is weak, wan stuff, iced or hot. I just drink water. Paying for their tea is "fool and his money" stupid.

                          Pamela's disappoints me because their pancakes are so good, but they adamantly, aggressively refuse to offer real maple syrup (I've asked many times), even as a cost-added option. And I can make eggs at home, so I hardly ever go there. It's the epitome of the old-Pittsburgh way of doing business: we make enough money doing it the way we've done it forever and ever, so why should we change?

                          1. re: Panini Guy

                            Waffles Inc. is, IMO, a better breakfast joint. Now that they have another location in the South Side I don't have to couch it by saying it's way out in New Brighton. :-)

                            Still not sure it'll meet your coffee standards of course but should be better than some. ;-)