Pittsburgh

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Traditional steakhouses, atmospheric French bistros, and tried-and-true Italian joints dominate Pittsburgh’s dining scene, though the city’s gastronomic influences are becoming ever more international. Stroll the side streets of the city’s South Side to make your own dining discoveries before they make the pages of local newspapers and magazines.

Top Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Cambod-Ican Kitchen

Offerings like “chicken on a stick” and the BYOB advisory give you a good idea of what to expect at this well-loved eatery on the south side of Pittsburgh – the restaurant is an off-shoot of a popular fast food truck that used to serve loyal customers in the neighborhood. Sample flavorful Asian finger foods like cilantro-infused spring rolls, spicy kabobs, mini shrimp cakes, and deep-fried wontons, washing it all down with fresh limeade or ginger tea. The decor at this inexpensive local joint might be described as Cambodian-temple-meets-American-pop-culture-kitsch.

1701 East Carson St., PA, 412-381-6199, www.cambodicankitchen.com
Tags: family | budget | great value | asian

Chicken Latino

The Peruvian-style grilled chicken seasoned with peppers and paprika is a real bargain at this Strip District eatery, and authentic too – the owner, Shelbin Santos, is from a town near Cusco. Aside from the signature dish, which comes piled high with black beans and Spanish rice, the hearty offerings here include deep-fried chicken burritos and overstuffed veggie quesadillas. On Saturdays, ceviche (raw tilapia tossed with lime) and shish kebabs are also available. The casual dining area doubles as a market where locals stop by to pick up entire rotisserie chickens with sides of yucca fries.

155 21st St., PA, 412-246-0974, www.chickenlatino.com
Tags: family | budget | great value | mexican | latin fusion

Hoi Polloi Vegetarian Cafe & Coffeehouse

Vegetarians and vegans flock to this unassuming cafe for fresh, homemade vegetarian chili, daily soup specials (you’re in luck if the red lentil is on offer), veggie burgers, and mango wraps. The place is run by a pair of cool, socially conscious young women who keep the prices low and the quality high. Fair-trade coffee and just-out-of-the-oven muffins and baked goods add to the appeal – the vegan hot cocoa is delicious when Pittsburgh weather is chilly and gray.

1100 Galveston Ave., PA, 412-586-4567
Tags: budget | trendy | vegetarian

Isabela on Grandview

Sophisticated Asian cuisine fused with French/Southwestern influences has earned Isabela on Grandview gastronomic accolades from locals. The seven-course prix fixe dinner features options like chestnut soup with gruyere cheese, grilled shrimp with a black bean puree, and a dessert made with roasted pumpkin and dulce de leche, a South American caramel-like delicacy, while the ample wine list offers various French and Italian varietals by the glass. Watch the action in the gleaming open kitchen or gaze out the windows for sweeping views over the Mount Washington area while sampling the amuse bouche at this posh restaurant.

1318 Grandview Ave., PA, 412-431-5882, www.isabelaongrandview.com
Tags: thai | expensive | smart splurge | views | trendy | french | southwestern | vietnamese

Kaya

A current hot spot among trendy twenty- and thirty-somethings, Kaya is lively and fashionably designed – the walls are lit in eye-catching hues of blue and orange and bedecked with artwork inspired by the Caribbean islands. The same could be said of the restaurant’s cuisine. Spicy flavors and Cuban culinary methods bring a Latin flair to tapas-style appetizers and delicious entrees, several of which are vegetarian-friendly. Try the tangy jerk chicken wings or the avocado tempura, and save room for dessert – the decadent chocolate and banana bread pudding is a must. Kaya is unique, upbeat, and popular, so much so that visitors might have a hard time hearing over the din of power-lunchers and happy hour revelers.

2000 Smallman St., PA, 412-261-6565, www.bigburrito.com/kaya
Tags: moderate | trendy | caribbean

Le Pommier

Elegant and understated, this tried and true French bistro has long been a favorite of the city’s romantics. Classic dishes like steak tartare, sauteed scallops, and duck breast rule the menu, while a finely chosen selection of imports and vintages populate the highly acclaimed wine list. Le Pommier’s well-trained staff graciously attend to casually attired guests throughout the bistro’s cozy, candelit, French country-style rooms. Located in a neighborhood thriving with bohemian art galleries and boutiques, Le Pommier remains a fixture on Pittsburgh’s dining scene.

2104 East Carson St., PA, 412-431-1901, www.lepommier.com
Tags: romance | expensive | trendy | french

Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar

Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar isn’t close to the city’s downtown, but foodies don’t mind driving toward the northern suburbs for the establishment that Pittsburgh magazine named “the best new restaurant of the year” in June 2008. Chef Matthew Porco garnered rave reviews at Veritas in New York before dedicating himself to Mio, crafting the menu with fresh New American and Italian dishes. Regulars enjoy his homemade gnocchi and sea scallops with maitake mushrooms in the restaurant’s plush, low-lit dining room.

225 Commercial Ave., PA, 412-781-3141, www.mio-pgh.com
Tags: expensive | smart splurge | new american

Penn Brewery

This bustling beer hall and German restaurant is a must for serious ale lovers – Pennsylvania’s first microbrew was produced here, and today the menu features innovative twists on pub grub (like the yummy Goulaschsuppe, a hearty potato and beef stew). Ask the knowledgeable staff to recommend a lager to go with your plate. Locals and visitors alike sit at heavy wood tables, just a stone’s throw from tanks filled with Pilsner, and nosh on gourmet schnitzel and sausages. The neighborhood is traditionally German, so both the Penn Brewery and the streets around it come alive during Oktoberfest.

800 Vinial St., PA, 412-237-9400, www.pennbrew.com
Tags: moderate | trendy | pub | german

Point Brugge Cafe

A Belgian bistro that’s casual, chic, affordable – and serious about their steak frites? Yes, please. Point Brugge Cafe, modeled after a European bistro and outfitted with wood and metal fixtures, is a find for beer connoisseurs and gourmet eaters who aren’t looking to spend an arm and a leg. Try the Brugge Frites, twice-cooked potato wedges served with basil mayonnaise, and watch for seasonal events like the recent “Harvest Beer Dinner,” a one-time feast of meats and brew. The Sunday morning brunch is a lively affair.

401 Hastings St., PA, 412-441-3334, www.pointbrugge.com
Tags: family | moderate | great value | trendy | belgian

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

This locally owned downtown branch of the upscale Ruth’s Chris Steak House is a frequent stop for business travelers, locals celebrating special occasions, and visitors craving fine steak and a glass of Cabernet. The dark wood furnishings and intimate booths are standard issue for an urban steakhouse – the main attraction is the hand-cut New York Strip steak served while it’s still sizzling. A good wine selection and a range of seafood, pork, and poultry entrees round out the menu. Rich, perfectly prepared desserts like Ruth’s cheesecake are a sweet ending to a classic meal (if you can manage to take another bite).

6 PPG Place, PA, 412-391-4800, www.ruthschris.com/Steak-House/5507/Pittsburgh
Tags: expensive | steakhouse

Thai Me Up

Don’t let the gimmicky name fool you – this South Side restaurant serves traditional Thai cuisine in a no-frills atmosphere. Locals say that the spicy basil noodles are far and away the best dish on the menu, but classics like spring rolls, curries, coconut soup, and pad thai are also crowd-pleasers. Try the pineapple-fried rice and a flavorful iced tea, the perfect refreshment on a hot city day. The restaurant only has a few tables (and a host of devoted regulars, thanks to the highly affordable prices), so expect to wait up to 15 minutes to be seated on busy days.

1925 Carson St., PA, 412-488-8893
Tags: family | budget | thai | great value

The Library

Literary types from out of town are drawn to this bistro for its library theme; locals keep coming back because of the chef’s careful attention to roasted meats and pasta dishes. Inventive entrees and appetizers take their names from bookish references and famous writers (the Scarlet Letter tortellini tossed with red-pepper cream sauce is a crowd-pleaser), and even smaller details, like menus made from recycled books, are thematic. But the dining environment is hardly staid – the stylish brick-lined rooms and an outdoor patio fill up nightly with groups of friends laughing and talking over bottles of wine.

2302 East Carson St., PA, : 412-381-0517, www.thelibrary-pgh.com
Tags: moderate | american | trendy

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