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Trip to Pittsburgh: Where to eat?

I'll be in Pittsburgh for a few days in early May for a medical conference. I've never been there before, so I would like to know what are your top 5 places I MUST EAT?

Price, cuisine, breakfast, lunch, dinner...doesn't matter, just as long as it is great. I'm looking for places that when I get back to Philly I'll be telling everyone about!

Staying at the Omni William Penn, but will have a car.

Also, which is the original location of Primanti Bros, and is that the best one to go to?


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  1. Hope you enjoy your visit. If you go to Primanti's you can walk to the one in the Strip District on 18th Street. About 15 minute walk. Remember why this sandwich was created and don't get the #1 cheese steak (in my opinion). Take cash.
    Some restaurant suggestions:
    Meat & Potatoes - walking distance
    Cure - will need to drive
    Eleven - walking distance
    Dish - drive
    Park Brugge Cafe - drive, does not take reservations.
    Gaucho Parrilla Argentina if you want another sandwich and only a few stools to eat in.
    Pamela's for Breakfast - some love it, especially the crepe pancakes. Obama made it famous. Just a diner.
    I am sure others will have suggestions.

    1. Agree with suggestions from Effort. Eleven is fantastic as is Pamela's - two of my favorites. Also might consider Kaya for a Caribbean feel and Casa Reyna which brought real Mexican dining to Pittsburgh. Both are in the Strip. Lots of great street food in the Strip as well. The original Primanti's is the "only" one to go to. All others are pretty much like suburban family dining places and do not have the unique atmosphere of the Strip location. The Enrico Biscotti Cafe (located behind the bakery) is another interesting option for lunch in the Strip. Also take a look at some of the restaurants in Lawrenceville which is just past the Strip. They are developing quite the restaurant reputation there.

      1. Sorry to borrow your discussion, PhillyBestBYOB, but my request overlaps with yours - we'll also be in town for a few days in early May (for the Pgh Marathon) and staying at the Omni. Can anyone suggest Italian restaurants within walking distance or an easy T ride for a pre-race meal Sat night? We are looking for simple, not haute cuisine, for that particular meal.

        7 Replies
        1. re: truman

          Il Pizzaiolo has pasta and real good brick oven pizza.
          Have heard Sienna Sulla Piazza has good pasta.
          Both in Market Square not far from the hotel.

          Good luck with the marathon!

            1. re: truman

              I am coming for the marathon also and Sienna was recommended to me for my carb loading. Good luck!

          1. re: truman

            We use buses around here, mostly.
            I've never run a marathon, but for after, you might want to try the Ramen Bar (it's a 30 min. bus ride from downtown).

            1. re: truman

              I recently went to proper brick oven which opened not too long ago, and much preferred it over il Pizzaiolo and Sienna Sulla (I do like both of them!). I thought their gnocchi app and pizza were superior. Also within walking distance.

              1. re: yammers

                Yammers, I did not know about Proper Brick Oven until I read this. It has gone straight to the top of my "must try" list. I like Il Pizzaiolo, but I don't love it.

              2. re: truman

                Reporting back...

                Brunch Saturday at Meat and Potatoes was fantastic: huevos rancheros and short rib hash.
                Dinner Sat at Il Pizzaiolo was pretty good - my gnocchi was so-so but the salad, margherita pizza, and DH's pasta (something bolognese) were delicious.
                Lunch Sun at Primanti Bros in the Strip... sad, not as good as I remembered from teenage years... Corned beef was good, though, once I got the ho-hum fries out of the way.
                Dinner Sun at Ten Penny was awesome! Wedge and Caesar salads, BBQ chicken flatbread and pork chop, then apple/cranberry tartlet and chocolate pretzel tart... yum yum yum.
                Breakfast Mon at Bluebird Kitchen - decent food but poorly organized (20-min wait for anything with eggs meant that DH was done with his biscuits and gravy by the time my frittata arrived).

                Thanks, all! We'll be back...

              3. Justin Severino of Cure just won Food and Wine Magazines best new mid-atlantic chef. The restaurant is in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, it would be a short drive from downtown. Every city has it's sandwich and I guess Primanti's is ours but I think they're awful. If you want a sandwich try The Thin Man in the strip district. Beware, Pamela's uses "fake" maple syrup. Other places you may want to try, Salt of the Earth, Notion, Il Pizziolo, Grit and Grace and Butcher and the Rye.

                1. Cure, Point/Park brugge (lunch, red/green curry mussels + frites), Meat & Potatoes, Butcher and the Rye. I will be different and throw in Alla Famiglia (the meatball and veal chop are my favorite. While expensive, I think it's the best red sauce italian restaurant), spoon, grit & grace and Tamari into the mix as well.

                  If you're in the strip (which I would recommend walking around) I like: a snack of pirogues at S&D Deli, a taco at reyna's, a sushi roll at penn fish and a pepperoni roll at mancinis, a donut at peace love & donuts (the bacon one is my favorite). Oh and a sandwich at prim antis (this would be a big eating adventure)

                  1. I'm a Philly guy who is in the 'burgh frequently.

                    I'd say avoid Primanti Bros. They aren't all that great if you are sober.

                    Avoid Lidia's and Paris 66, mediocre to bad food.

                    Soba is a nice pan-asian place.

                    Legume, Salt of the Earth are both very good. I haven't been to Cure, but its on my list...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sal_acid

                      When I traveled to "the burgh" on a regular basis 10 years ago the dining scene was bleak at best. Fortunately we could then take advantage of a very nice country club with excellent, but standard, fare. Wonderful to see the uplift in better dining options. Back then when asking for recs one would hear of the great Pizza places and of course Primanti Bros.(ugh). Which made one quite suspect of the level of restaurant which the population would support. I for one never quite understood the dearth of good dining. Some of the current suggestion are quite enticing and would be visited if I ever find myself in the Steel City again.

                    2. The Strip is a must do...it's like the Reading Terminal and Italian Markets but with more ethnic choices (and no Amish...) Try Bar Marco if you like craft cocktails, or for brunch if you're here on the weekend.

                      Downtown we like Meat & Potatoes and Butcher & the Rye (same owners, would do just one.) Grit & Grace is similar small plates but with a more Asian twist. Il Pizziaolo is good, didn't care for Sienna. I love Wingharts burgers but it's a true dive (in a good way!)

                      Lawrenceville is great, too. Love Cure and Tamari. Piccolo Formo is popular but I like Il Pizz just as much and it's NOT a BYOB.

                      Lots more choices in the East End, Spoon, Dinette, BRGR...and Southside, Dish, Stagonis and a new fave, the Chip Shop next to Pipers Pub.

                      Good luck choosing!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mb luvs SBH

                        Write a review of the Chip Shop, plz!

                        1. EaterNational has updated their Pittsburgh "Heatmap":


                          1. Just came back from a weekend in Pittsburgh. For restaurants we ended up with dinner at Meat & Potatoes and a lunch at Il Pizzaiolo.

                            Meat and Potatoes was fun for a late dinner. The music was pumping, the oversized velvet armchairs were comfy and the drinks were inventive. The bufala negra cocktail packed quite a punch and I couldn't stomach more than one. The bramble was lighter and easier to drink.

                            Their whole concept just tries a *little* bit too hard. The Fernet on tap, the painfully long food explanations by the waitstaff (we heard how the prep chef deboned the fish special) and the confusion about what beers were on tap because "we change the taps several times a night" were all a little too much. We know you're a big hipster, let's just make sure there's good service, delicious food and fun drinks and call it a day.

                            We tried an assortment of snacks and mains. The poutine was a gluttonous delight, fried brussels sprouts were a big hit, and the fish special was light and simple and good. The wagyu flat iron was also good but the bite I had tasted was very seasoned, like it was covered in some kind of salty rub that really permeated it, covering the taste of the steak. Maybe it was just the bite I got.

                            The service was verrrry slow but the chairs were so comfy we didn't mind too much until we realized we had been there for two hours and were really tired so we skipped desserts and after dinner drinks.

                            Il Pizzaiolo (downtown) was also worth the trip. The pizza was good but disappointing compared to some of the pizzerias we go to at home in Boston. Great drink and beer selection with many artisanal Italian beers that are hard to find. Good service and delicious meatball app. Perfect espresso downstairs at the bar.