Pittsburgh is known for its manufacturing and tech hubs, affordable rent and world-class education. Now, a new generation of chefs, brewers and entrepreneurs are helping to showcase that western Pennsylvania’s Steel City is also one of the best places to eat and drink in the United States. Here’s where to go now, beyond local institutions like Primanti Brothers and P&G’s Pamela’s Diner.
Breakfast is essential
In Pittsburgh, starting your day means coffee — and lots of it. Small wonder the city is home to a wide range of coffee shops, each with its own special focus. At De Fer Coffee & Tea (2002 Smallman St., 412-209-2226, defer.coffee) small-batch, house-roasted, “naturally processed” coffees are the main event. The cafe-style menu also offers a wide range of dishes, including toasts, baked oatmeal and Belgian waffles.
If savory is more your speed, Pear and the Pickle’s (1800 Rialto St., 412-322-0333, pearandpickle.com) bodega-style breakfast sandwiches are not just a throwback to the years the owners spent living in Brooklyn, but also to their commitment to scratch-made fare served in a casual environment. Pay the extra buck-fifty for the house-made sausage and your corner egg sandwich back home will never again look quite as good.
Burgh’ers Brewing (3601 Butler St., 412-904-2622, burgherspgh.com) does double duty as both a brewery and a full-service restaurant specializing in (you guessed it) burgers. The burgers are great (and include a vegetarian-friendly Impossible Burger), but the best thing on the menu might be the pickle-brined fried chicken, whose shatteringly crisp exterior and juicy, briny core will have you guarding your plate from anyone foolish enough not to order some for themselves.
For your pick of a drink with lunch, The Urban Tap (1209 E. Carson St., 412-586-7499; 216 S. Highland Ave., 412-404-7723, theurbantap.com) has dozens of draft lines, plus ample seating and a menu overflowing with giant sandwiches. Pro tip: Skip the fries for the golden-brown homemade tater tots.
You’ve been doing a lot of eating, and presumably at least a little walking around, and you deserve a caffeine boost. Each of Commonplace Coffee’s (commonplacecoffee.com) multiple spots serves its house-roasted blends; get the cortado — this aromatic, naturally sweet espresso mixed with steamed milk is a balm for the traveler’s soul.
End on a strong note
While Legume (closed Sundays; 214 N. Craig St., 412-621-2700, legumebistro.com) isn’t explicitly a vegetarian restaurant, it’s a spot driven by both seasonality and availability of produce and other ingredients. Legume is a bit more of a splurge than many other Pittsburgh spots — entrees can range from $23 to $32 — but the farm-to-table sourcing and quality cooking have been pulling in diners for more than a decade.
For something more casual, and for some of the best beers in Pittsburgh, Grist House Craft Brewery (closed Mondays and Tuesdays; 10 Sherman St., 412-447-1442, gristhouse.com) has a rotating assortment of food trucks that park on the premises to serve hungry drinkers. There are several great options rolling through its parking lot, but the crispy-edged Neapolitan-style pies from Alberta’s Pizza are a particular highlight.