It might surprise some that Pittsburgh, well-known for its gritty, industrial past, is packed full of terrific eateries sure to make any foodie take notice. And you don’t have to go far and wide; the city’s many neighborhoods each boast a thriving dining scene!
Downtown eateries are especially varied and vibrant, with food from different countries and cultures on full display. Some offer no-frills, but over-the-top delicious options, while others feature luxe ambiance to go along with crafted cocktails, extensive wine lists, and expensive menus.
Here’s a list of our 11 favorite restaurants to try in downtown Steel City!
Tucked into an unassuming storefront that looks more like a convenience store than a restaurant, you’ll find Arepittas, specializing in Venezuelan street food. You cannot go wrong with anything on this menu, but our favorite appetizer is the yuca frita, made from the root of the cassava plant. Fried plantains and empanadas made with a variety of fillings are also terrific. Make sure you save plenty of room for the main course, a Venezuelan specialty called arepas, which consists of a cornmeal flatbread, stuffed with your choice of beef, pork, chicken or seafood, cheese, avocado, and other traditional ingredients. The Reina pepiada was a favorite — an arepas stuffed with shredded white chicken, avocado, mayo, and garlic. To finish off your dining experience, be sure to wash your meal down with a traditional drink, perhaps coffee lemonade, or chicha andina.
The food at Arepittas is tasty, filling, and easy on the wallet. Bottom line: This is a great place to grab a quick bite or takeout, popular with locals and visitors alike!
2. Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room
The folks at Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room pride themselves on offering from-scratch, locally-sourced food, and that’s definitely evidenced in its superstar wood-fired pizzas and pockets. Good Italian-style dough is tough to find, but you can definitely taste the freshness and the love here. Pastas made in-house are also terrific, including the brisket mac and cheese. Some of the eclectic bar snacks are downright decadent — we’re looking at you, bacon candy — and the beers on tap include plenty of local brews.
This is a great place to get your pizza fix, and it offers both indoor and outdoor seating. Be aware, the portions are large, so you might want to split a couple of items. Trust us, no one will leave hungry!
3. The Commoner
The Commoner, a chic spot located in the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, elevates pub grub standards to upscale fare. The burger? Crafted from wagyu beef. The seafood? Cooked to perfection with elegant sides. And the fries? Served with cheese fondue and roasted garlic butter (although, this is Pittsburgh; count on seeing some Heinz ketchup, too!). The Commoner is a place that manages to feel swanky and down to earth at the same time, a vibe that’s rare to achieve. The bar features a wide variety of hand-crafted cocktails, local beers, and a small but well-curated wine list. If you want to get fancy and fill up without feeling too stuffy, head to The Commoner.
Locally sourced, seasonal cuisine takes center stage at Revel, a chic but casual PGH restaurant known for its handcrafted, creative cocktails. The space is warm and inviting, with the large, open kitchen facing out into the dining room. Small plates, sandwiches, and entrées all offer creative twists on familiar classics. Revel’s got a terrific happy hour all week long, and on Friday nights, it also programs live music — an extra bonus and great way to start off the weekend! Revel’s upstairs space, Roost, is reserved for special events and private parties.
An upscale, funky take on a traditional taqueria, täkō puts the spotlight on Japanese/Mexican fusion, as well as high-end tequila and mezcal — dozens of different bottles. Sure, you’ll find chips, salsa, queso, and guac here… but the creative tacos, including one filled with octopus, harissa aioli, and fried chickpeas, elevate the beloved food form! As you might imagine, the margaritas are top-shelf, featuring unexpected flavors including grapefruit, sage, and even lychee. Täkō’s space is dark and makes for a sexy dining experience. Once you step inside, you’ll understand why it’s been written up and raved about in journals and magazines, including Vogue.
6. The Warren Bar & Burrow
If you’re ready to pair a high-end sip or two with sushi rolls or other Asian-inspired fare, head to the Warren Bar and Burrow downtown. This spot has a speakeasy feel, with well-curated cocktails, a good wine list, and more than a half-dozen beers on tap. While there is traditional pub fare here, the Warren partners up with its neighbor at Penn Avenue Fish Company to provide its patrons sushi rolls, chirashi bowls, and sashimi. The rolls are delicious, if fairly traditional… for a bit more of a kick, try the spicy senorita stuffed with yellowtail, jalapeno, and cilantro, drizzled with sriracha.
7. Bae Bae’s Kitchen
While this spot features counter-serve dining, don’t let the lack of formality scare you off. Bae Bae’s Kitchen takes organic, fresh fare and gives it a Korean flair. Rice, noodle, and salad bowls– customized with your choice of protein, sauce, and side — are the stand-outs here, as are the homemade dumplings and wontons. This is a great place for veggie lovers or even vegans to grab a bite, with plenty of options like kimchi, pickles, veggie tempura, and tofu on the menu. Wash everything down with a Vietnamese coffee or boba tea, and try to save room for the delicious churros for dessert.
8. The Original Oyster House
Just steps from the city’s iconic Market Square, the Original Oyster House has served up seafood since 1870, making it Pittsburgh’s oldest bar and restaurant. Of course, there are the oysters — raw shooters or breaded and fried — along with an assortment of other dishes including crab cakes, fish and chips, and clam chowder. Fish sandwiches here are huge and tasty, served up with slaw and chips, and the bar is old-school. Along with the good food, expect a heavy dose of nostalgia at this historic tavern. More than 20 films have been shot here over the years, and you’ll see mentions of them and other historic Pittsburgh happenings on the walls. While this place is old hat for locals, it also makes for a terrific stop for tourists and visitors.
9. No. 1 Sushi Sushi
Also steps away from Market Square, this unassuming small sushi spot with the funny name doesn’t look like much. But trust us, the rolls at No. 1 Sushi Sushi speak for themselves! From standard to specialty, plus sashimi cuts, there’s something here for everyone. The seaweed, house salads, and hand rolls are also delicious, and the price points are incredibly reasonable considering the quality of the food. We loved this place so much, on a recent trip to Pittsburgh, we ordered carry-out from there — twice! Our orders were ready fast and made for the perfect dine-in meal back at the hotel. Bottom line: you can’t go wrong with a quick stop here.
10. The Speckled Egg
No vacation is complete without a blow-out brunch, and in downtown Pittsburgh, the place to be for that magical transition between the first and second meals of the day is The Speckled Egg. Located inside the historic Union Trust building downtown, this is the place to fuel up for a day of sightseeing adventures! From breakfast sandwiches and pancakes to hashes and French toasts, the classics here get a delicious and decadent upgrade, including finishing touches like truffle salt, specialty jams, jellies, and local honey. Toasts, sandwiches, and salads are also featured on the menu, and of course, The Speckled Egg offers a variety of coffees, mimosas, and Bloody Marys.
11. Fig & Ash
Technically, this elegant eatery isn’t quite downtown — it’s just across the Rachel Carson Bridge over the Allegheny, and easily reached on foot. It’s so good, we wanted to sneak it in here. Nearly everything served in the light, bright dining room is made from scratch. The team at Fig & Ash butchers its own meats, grinds its own grains, and sources produce locally, all of which can truly be tasted on the plate. Beautiful salads showcase heirloom vegetables, and the mains include a small but delicious combination of seafood, game, and beef. The cocktail list is creative and robust, and the wine and beer lists complement the cuisine quite well. To guarantee a seat for dinner service, be sure to make reservations.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to save room for dessert while you’re on your culinary adventure in downtown Pittsburgh! Millie’s serves up house-made ice cream and has some of the best pistachios we’ve ever tasted. Be sure to splurge on the waffle cone! And the legendary CobblerWorld offers a sweet taste of home, including pies, cookies, cakes, and of course, cobbler…all made from scratch.
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