Here Are The 25 Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh

Lpetrilla Altiusjune23 5034

THE ŌRA KING SALMON CEVICHE AT ALTIUS (MOUNT WASHINGTON) FEATURES PASSIONFRUIT MARINADE, AGUA CHILE GEL, LIME BERMUDA ONION, MARCONA ALMOND, PLANTAIN CHIP AND DRAGON FRUIT.

The term Best Restaurants may generate images of white tablecloths, breathtaking views of the city and elaborate, surf-and-turf meals served by a tuxedoed waitstaff. That’s what used to come to my mind, at least.

What I’ve learned covering Pittsburgh’s dining industry through a pandemic, however, is that being the “best” requires more than having a killer filet mignon and swanky aesthetics. The world’s a cold, scary place, and folks just want to warm up with good food from the heart.

After years of pandemic-related pivoting, restaurants are finally finding their groove, creating unique, flavorful menus using locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. They’re taking risks, they’re expanding their horizons and they’re making fine dining more accessible.

In addition to an elegant dining room atop Mount Washington, this list of 25 restaurants includes out-of-the-way joints, neighborhood sandwich shops, pizzerias and a fast-casual operation in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

Bon appetit, Pittsburgh!

The List

Click on the restaurant you want to check out first or continue scrolling through the entire list.

40 North at Alphabet City

Lpetrilla 40north 7393

As a writer, I find it fun to dine inside a bookstore — especially when the food is prepared by a James Beard Award-nominated chef.

Bethany Zozula started a new chapter in her culinary career when she opened the restaurant and bar inside of City of Asylum. In addition to being a great place for literary events, the nonprofit organization provides sanctuary to endangered wordsmiths from around the world. Zozula shares stories through the universal language of food — her lunch, dinner and brunch menus are real page-turners. Something as simple as a spicy fried chicken sandwich feels classier when it’s consumed at 40 North.

You can sit at the bar — which is devoid of televisions — and bury your face in a book or chat with the friendly staff and fellow patrons. My mouth was full, so I did the former.

NORTH SIDE  40 W. North Ave.
412-435-1111, 40northpgh.com


Alta Via Ristorante

Lpetrilla Altavia 0723

Alta Via opened on April Fool’s Day 2019, but when it comes to pasta and seafood dishes it’s no joke. This big Burrito Restaurant Group offering — you’ll see a lot of them on this list — is serious about modern Italian fare made over a wood-fired grill.

Instead of the usual lineup of marinara-and-mozzarella-topped dishes, the seasonal menu gives a nod to the Italian Alps and California wine country with handmade pasta (gluten-free upon request), veggie-forward ingredients and lighter sauces. You can get a veal Porterhouse, too. The portions were generous, from the complementary focaccia (my date and I killed two baskets!) to the tuna tartare (accompanied by grilled bread!) to my “small” order of cavatelli with Calabrian sausage, tomato, spinach, cippolini onion and Grana Padano cheese (that still required a doggie bag — which I immediately opened once I got home).

Alta Via leftovers are no laughing matter.

O’HARA  46 Fox Chapel Road
412-408-3816, altaviapgh.com


Altius

Lpetrilla Altiusjune23 5122

There are a number of reasons why the food at Altius is considered “Elevated Cuisine.” The restaurant’s name is Latin for “higher,” it’s located on Grandview Avenue in Mount Washington, and it continues to deliver dishes that go above and beyond fine dining.

When a stolen car slammed into the building in May 2022, forcing Altius to shut down for six months, Executive Chef/Partner Jessica Bauer and her team used the downtime to fine-tune the menu. With so many tasty options to choose from, I had to ask our server to make an entree selection for me. What made the cut was a melt-in-your-mouth Heritage Breed Tomahawk Pork Chop with fennel and orange mostarda (a nice substitute for traditional applesauce), marcona almonds, crispy Brussels sprouts, roasted garlic potato puree and maître d’hôtel butter.

A breathtaking view of Pittsburgh and elevated cuisine on your plate make it a little difficult to focus on your date. You might want to fly solo.

MOUNT WASHINGTON  1230 Grandview Ave.
412-904-4442, altiuspgh.com


Apteka

Lpetrilla Aptekabr22 3357

In a nondescript storefront along Penn Avenue in Bloomfield sits one of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh and, according to a September 2022 New York Times article, the United States. Apteka co-owners Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski are, as of press time, finalists for this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

Those are some pretty big honors for a little vegan joint serving modern spins on Central and Eastern European staples such as pierogies, potato pancakes and paczki. Heavy curtains often prevent passersby from peeking inside; rest assured, if it’s open, Apteka is packed. Even on a Sunday evening, the place is teeming with life and laughter.

I enjoy the laid-back atmosphere, from the menu written on butcher block paper up front to the small garden seating area in the back. Lasky and Skowronski let the food speak for itself. The duze dania (large plates) might be a little hard to pronounce, but they’re easy to eat. Kluski Lane — spaetzle noodles with seared cabbage, beer jus, oyster mushrooms, smoked celery root, marjoram, caraway and carrot-rye bread paste underneath — is the culinary equivalent of getting a warm hug from a babushka-wearing grandma.

BLOOMFIELD  4606 Penn Ave.
aptekapgh.com


Back to the Foodture

Lpetrilla Backtothefoodture 9677

Don’t call Eddie Barnz and Angel Magwood chicken. In just a few years, the couple has boldly turned a small Pitcairn eatery and pop-culture museum into an eating empire with locations in the South Side and Uptown (near PPG Paints Arena).

They’re currently revving up the DeLorean to open more “Back to the Future”-themed spots in Pittsburgh and beyond. Consult the menu before you go; there are more than 150 flavors of wings, 30 burger combinations, 16 types of grilled hot dogs and 24 French fry options.

The Uptown location also offers appetizers, pizza boats, tacos, sandwiches, soups and salads and a full-service bar. The portions are bigger than Biff Tannen’s attitude and the atmosphere is totally Cafe ’80s. You don’t need a Ph.D. like Doc Brown to know that this is the place to go to fuel your inner flux capacitor.

SOUTH SIDE  2667 E. Carson St.
UPTOWN 1014 Fifth Ave.
instagram.com/back2thefoodture


Bar Marco

Lpetrilla Barmarcobr21 9561

Even after a decade in operation (and appearing on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants round-up for almost as long), Bar Marco remains one of the hottest spots in Pittsburgh — and not just because it’s located in an old firehouse.

The tip-free, European-inspired wine bar, which is known for its homemade pasta, bread and pastries as well as its selection of natural wines, combined business and pleasure last fall when the staff embarked on a trip to Italy for a little R&R — and to collect recipes and ideas like souvenirs.

Enjoy a meal in Bar Marco’s wine cellar, a reservation-only space with a communal table for 10. Throwing a bigger gathering for your foodie friends? The eatery also has a private event space called Union Hall. With inspired fare this good, your party is guaranteed to be a five-alarm blaze for the tastebuds.

STRIP DISTRICT  2216 Penn Ave.
412-471-1900, barmarcopgh.com


Butterjoint

Lpetrilla Butterjointbr21 8616

You don’t have to wait until a Friday or Saturday night to have an amazing meal; Butterjoint is open daily for dine-in from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The eatery, which sprang from the mind of Legume Chef Trevett Hooper, also has an adjoining coffee and bakeshop called Sidecar for an early-morning boost.

On a Monday afternoon in February, I sat in the main dining room and warmed up with a plate of potato-and-cheese-filled pierogies topped with caramelized onion, sauerkraut, pickled beets and greens. I suggest getting a little bit of everything on your fork because the tastes and textures merge beautifully — and no one beats Butterjoint’s beets.

Years before Sidecar opened, Hooper called the place Pie For Breakfast, a dining philosophy I fully support. Butterjoint still carries a lot of Pie For Breakfast pastries, including a nostalgic slice called vinegar pie. In the early 19th century, penny-pinching people relied on this basic recipe to get their just desserts. Apple cider vinegar is used as a fill-in for the fruit and, when mixed with the other ingredients, creates a super sweet, gelatinous filling. The lard-based crust is flaky, except for the top, which is crunchy thanks to the caramelized sugar.

From its funky, retro decor and dinnerware to the cocktails and menu items, Butterjoint is a blast from the past. Now take your grandpa out for some vinegar pie.

OAKLAND  208 N. Craig St.
412-621-2700, butterjoint.com


Casbah

Lpetrilla Casbahbr22 2951

The first time I visited Casbah was in the late ’90s. I don’t remember the reason for the celebration, but I do recall feeling sophisticated. As a high school senior, fast food was more my speed — but the Mediterranean cuisine awakened my inner epicurean.

I’m 44 now and the place still impresses. I recently dined alone at the bar, and if you’ve never treated yourself to a cocktail and a nice meal, there’s no better place to start than Casbah. I nursed a Negroni while chatting with the friendly bartender. My cavatelli dish with house-made fennel sausage, spinach, crushed tomatoes, and ricotta hit the spot and left me wishing I had ordered the larger portion — I made do with a basket of freshly baked bread. Then I ordered dessert: a gingerbread cake that hit my taste buds like a late-Christmas gift.

An expert on sweets himself, I think ol’ St. Nick is glad I graduated to fine dining.

SHADYSIDE  229 S. Highland Ave.
412-661-5656, casbah.kitchen


Chengdu Gourmet

Lpetrilla Chengdugormetbr21 8759

Before my dad retired, we’d often meet Downtown for lunch. Our destination changed quite often, but the cuisine was always Chinese. For some reason, my meat-and-potatoes-lovin’ pop had a soft spot for Sichuan. Since we both live in the North Hills, taking him to Chengdu Gourmet 2 on McKnight Road was a no-brainer.

James Beard-nominated Chef Wei Zhu, who opened the first, no-frills Squirrel Hill location in 2014, now has a big and beautiful space that lives up to the food. The menus (yes, plural) are packed with traditional Chinese and Americanized dishes (Hello, General Tso!) as well as sushi, so it can be overwhelming at first, but the servers are there to guide you on your gastronomic journey.

As a creature of habit, I ordered my go-to: Hunan Chicken — thinly sliced chicken breast and fresh veggies are tossed in a fiery sauce. Dad tapped out after a few spicy bites, so most of the family-style serving was split between my belly and a doggie bag. The fact that I was given a fortuneless fortune cookie didn’t bother me. I had already won the foodie jackpot.

NORTH HILLS 4768 McKnight Road
412-579-0999, chengdugourmet2.com

SQUIRREL HILL  5840 Forward Ave.
412-521-2088


Con Alma

Lpetrilla Conalma 4437

I’m sitting in a swinging little spot popping creole-fried alligator into my mouth between sips of a Sazerac while a jazz band plays. This isn’t the French Quarter, it’s Downtown Pittsburgh. In Spanish, “con alma” means “with soul,” and that’s the way this business — which has its original location with an all-vegan menu in Shadyside — is run.

Both locations have Latin-inspired offerings. Sunday Brunch With Soul, in particular, is an interesting way to spend a morning, because Con Alma Downtown feels like a strictly late-night joint. Located across the street from the bright lights of Heinz Hall, it is dimly lit by candles and the purple glow of a neon sign, with a cozy, cool vibe.

My gator tail meat in a spicy gochujang mayo, dashi soy and pickled chile sauce brought the heat. After trying my friend’s elote-style fried Brussels sprouts prepared in a corn relish with queso cotija, cilantro, spicy mayo and lime, they might just be my new go-to breakfast option. Still feeling the burn, I ordered the Sesame Sazerac. The pretty, pink drink is a mix of Hennessy cognac, rye, Demerara, absinthe and Chinese spices. I’m a beer girl, so I’m typically one-and-done when it comes to cocktails, but I made this one a double.

Laissez le bon temps rouler, right?

DOWNTOWN  613 Penn Ave.
SHADYSIDE  5884 Ellsworth Ave.
conalmapgh.com


DiAnoia’s Italian Eatery

Lpetrilla Dianoias 5854

During the interview process for the Pittsburgh Magazine Food Editor position, my now-boss Virginia Linn asked me where I’d like to meet to chew the fat over my resume.

“This is a test,” I thought to myself. “She’s asking me to pick a restaurant that’s a blend of casual and sophisticated, an all-day space with a menu that spans breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails. Bonus points if there’s an empty parking lot.” DiAnoia’s in the Strip checked all of those boxes (except for the parking thing). Plus it’s owned by the same family that operates nearby Pane e Pronto bakery and Pizzeria Davide, making them a carbohydrate triple-threat.

Despite my aversion to space-hunting in the Strip, I was craving some of Chef Dave Anoia’s Pork Sugo with housemade rigatoni, braised pork, San Marzano tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. I can’t remember what Virginia ordered, but the bottom line is I got the job — and enough food for lunch the next day.

STRIP DISTRICT  2549 Penn Ave.
412-918-1875, dianoiaseatery.com


Driftwood Oven

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I have a knack for showing up to restaurants at exactly the wrong time. I was less than a block from Driftwood Oven when I saw a large group file through the door to the city’s only sourdough bakery and pizzeria. My stomach growled. But here’s the thing about Driftwood Oven: It’s worth the wait. Owner, co-founder and 2020 James Beard Award semifinalist Neil Blazin — who gets my vote for the most fitting surname on Pittsburgh’s dining scene — and his staff make any visit enjoyable, even if it’s standing-room only inside the tiny Lawrenceville eatery.

The menu boasts shareable snacks (try the meatballs with focaccia!), sandwiches (the pastrami on marble rye rocks!), salads (Kale Caesar!) and desserts (a peanut butter brownie for the win!), but I ordered two rectangular, Roman cuts of pizza: a red top with Pecorino cheese, tomato sauce and oregano and a vegan slice topped with a chef’s choice of fresh veggies including big slices of garlic, pickled onions, kale and mushrooms.

Since there were no seats available, I took my meal to the bench outside. Despite a chill in the air, the pizza had me dreaming of sunny days on a driftwood-filled beach. Blazin makes some of the best crust in town and his own ranch dressing. Go take a dip.

LAWRENCEVILLE  3615 Butler St.
412-251-0253, driftwoodoven.com


Eleven Contemporary Kitchen

Lpetrilla Eleven 2160

When I asked my friend to meet me for brunch down in the Strip on an unusually warm winter morning — while the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show was going on at the nearby David L. Lawrence Convention Center — she declined. In her opinion, no eatery was worth enduring that kind of traffic and parking nightmare.

When I told her we were dining at Eleven, one of big Burrito Restaurant Group’s venerable establishments, she made a beeline for her door. (Bonus: She opted for valet parking.) As a cinephile and a foodie, I think Eleven’s main dining room looks like restaurants I’ve seen in movies where high-powered New York executives woo clients. But you don’t have to work on Wall Street to be able to afford to eat here.

The Brunch Prix Fixe includes your choice of appetizers and entree plus fresh juice or a brunch cocktail for $39. For me, that meant a brioche sticky bun with cinnamon-sugar glaze, orange and pistachio cream, Eggs Benedict and a mimosa. A classic brunch from a contemporary kitchen that’s worthy of the Silver Screen.

STRIP DISTRICT  1150 Smallman St.
412-201-5656, elevenck.com


Everyday Noodles

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There’s nothing average about Everyday Noodles. You can tell by the entries on this list — and the framed painting of Mancini’s bread hanging on my office wall — that I’m a carbohydrate fan.

Everyday Noodles is a great date spot because it’s dinner and a show in one; you can watch the chefs prepare the noodles and then chow down on them. I make my own mix by ordering Dan Dan Noodles in a spicy, peanut vinaigrette sauce and dried shrimp powder dusted with crushed cashew nuts and scallions. To this entree I add sliced seaweed marinated with garlic, carrots and sesame seeds. For a nice crunch, I threw in pickled cucumbers.

Cutting back on carbs? The seaweed will suffice. Ain’t life a beach?

SQUIRREL HILL  5875 Forbes Ave.
412-421-6668, everydaynoodles.net


Fig & Ash

Lpetrilla Figashbr21 9099

Fig & Ash radiates warmth — and not just from the custom-built wood-fired oven. In 2018, when I first interviewed Chef Cory Hughes about his plans for the long-vacant Deutschtown building, he said he wanted to offer gourmet comfort food; he planned to make the kind of labor-intensive, stick-to-your-ribs fare you’d find at a traditional Sunday supper.

Since opening in 2020, the folks at Fig & Ash have been milling grains, baking bread, butchering meats in-house and adding modern flair to each dish that comes out of the open kitchen. I’m mad for the short rib and pork belly meatloaf — a menu mainstay accompanied by baby carrots, creamed peas, potato galette shallot and horseradish crème fraîche — but smaller plates such as the wild boar chili paired with jalapeño cheddar cornbread slathered in honey butter will make you want to curl up in a ball by the hearth and take a nap.

I don’t advise doing that — at least not before you’ve had dessert.

NORTH SIDE  514 E. Ohio St.
412-321-2222, figandashpgh.com


Moonlit Burgers

Lpetrilla Moonlitburgers 16

Moonlit Burgers makes me nostalgic for the fast food joints of my youth. Sure, the local chain’s only been around for a couple of years, but the food and the atmosphere transport me to a time when a burger-and-fries combo was truly a happy meal. (It’s even happier now since Moonlit serves booze and I’m over 21!)

Chefs Mike McCoy and Derek Stevens have taken the eatery from a pandemic pop-up to Potomac Avenue powerhouse to a Duquesne University student fav that’s poised to open a third location in Sewickley this year. The original Dormont spot is always packed thanks to the intoxicating smell of sizzling beef patties wafting from the building.

You can’t go wrong with a Classic Moonlit Double on a Martin’s potato roll with griddled onions, American cheese, kosher dill pickles and Moon sauce, which is a red chili paste called gojuchang that gives the sandwich a spicy kick. Continue to feel the burn with a basket of shoestring Chili Cheese Fries topped with housemade chili, cheese sauce and pickled jalapeños. Chill out with a Millie’s ice cream cone (Moonlit is the only place in town where you can get their soft-serve) and an episode of Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting,” which is always playing silently on a TV in the corner.

Thanks to their happy little burgers, Moonlit is a real masterpiece.

DORMONT  1426 Potomac Ave.
UPTOWN  1023 Forbes Ave.
SEWICKLEY (coming soon)  517 Locust Place
moonlitburgers.com


Morcilla

Lpetrilla Morcillabr22 3343

In March, Morcilla had to close for a week. The good news is the hiatus wasn’t due to COVID — rather to regroup and add a dozen seats back to the dining room, returning the Spanish restaurant to its original, pre-pandemic capacity.

Owners Justin Severino, Hilary Prescott-Severino and Nathan Hobart (who manages most of the day-to-day kitchen and service) now serve more shareable plates, which are unique and flavorful. Morcilla has an extensive sherry selection, so order an Arrebujar — a sherry of your choice and soda — and take time to soak in the ever-changing menu. I asked our server lots of questions and even Googled a few things — it’s not everyday I see octopus, garbanzos, tahini, chermoula, sobrasada and lemon listed as ingredients. But, if you have the opportunity to try Pulpo a la Plancha (that’s Spanish for “octopus on the griddle”), please do so. My friend and I shared warm bread (of course), a scallop appetizer and Costillas de la Matanza, baby back pork ribs with harissa honey, za’atar, and labneh.

Our conversation consisted of gossip interspersed with happy eating noises. In any language, that says a lot.

LAWRENCEVILLE  3519 Butler St.
Morcillapittsburgh.com


Oak Hill Post

Lpetrilla Oakhillpost 2468

Oak Hill Post has a Mayberry quality to it. It’s an old-school, counter-service establishment with a down-home diner atmosphere — but with gourmet grub, plenty of vegan and gluten-free options and a fervent foodie fanbase.I’m surprised an alarm didn’t sound throughout Brookline when one of their flatop griddles broke in February, forcing the space to shut down for a few days. Social media sure was buzzing about it.

As soon as they got their sizzle back, I stopped by for the French toast breakfast. It’s not often that I opt for sweet over savory, but we’re talking crème brûlée griddled toast with lemon curd and jam. I got scrambled eggs, sausage and mashbrowns on the side. Oak Hill Post isn’t just a breakfast restaurant; Christian Schulz and Rebecca Nicholson excel at lunch too — and not just run-of-the-mill sandwiches, but NY Strip Steak, barbecue pork belly and Great Lakes walleye. Pair your all-American burger with fries and a Boylan’s Sugar Cane Soda and you’re living the dream.

BROOKLINE  600 Brookline Blvd.
412-254-2970, oakhillpost.com


Pusadee’s Garden

Lpetrilla Pusadeesgarden 1300

Pusadee’s Garden, which was closed from 2017 to 2021 for expansions and renovations, gives new meaning to the words “dining out.” When weather permits, the Thai restaurant’s courtyard garden is open for outdoor seating. Even if you can’t feel the warm breeze at an al fresco table, the building’s unique layout and design brings the natural world in.

I recommend bellying up to the full-service bar, a bright space with floor-to-ceiling windows. I last visited in the dead of winter and, despite the dreary skies, Pusadee’s Garden boasts a bright, whimsical, springlike charm. The same can be said about the menu.

Many dishes are as beautiful as they are delicious. A steaming bowl of pumpkin curry delighted my senses of sight and smell before the contents hit my taste buds. The sweet potato roti appetizer didn’t last long enough for me to fully note its exquisiteness. “Here’s your Spaghetti Western cocktail,” said my server, placing a rocks glass filled with George Dickel Rye, Cynar, Amaro Montenegro, sarsaparilla and angostura bitters on the table.

Now, that … was music to my ears.

LAWRENCEVILLE  5319 Butler St.
412-252-2683, pusadeesgarden.com


Sally Ann’s

Lpetrilla Sallyanns 8354

Sally Ann’s speaks to my Gen X soul. When I was a ’90s teenager, I longed to hang out in a hip space that looked and felt like this spot from Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group. According to magazines, TV shows and movies of the day, cool kids flocked to funky cafes decorated with arcade games, neon signs and a variety of colors, patterns, textures, furniture and floral accents. Imagine any outfit Mayim Bialik wore on the show “Blossom” and you’ll get the overall vibe.

Sally Ann’s embraces nostalgia in an unpretentious way, complete with meals that enhance childhood favorites and, just like the decor, dazzle the eye. I love visiting in the summer months, when the garage doors facing Sixth Street are up. During a solo visit, I sat along the rail to people-watch and inhale a crispy chicken sandwich. I imagine lots of people were watching me wrestle with that big fried bird on a bun dripping with buttermilk ranch, farm greens and dill pickles. Next time I plan to gather with friends under a flowery umbrella on the Astro-turf patio to share some laughs and house fries served with lemon garlic aioli.

OK, maybe I’ll keep those for myself. Reality bites.

DOWNTOWN  36 Sixth St.
sallyannspgh.com


Scratch & Co.

Scratch

I had the most magical meal of my life at Scratch & Co. in Troy Hill. Last November, Storyteller and Magician Jon Tai peppered a six-course, family-style dinner with tricks, treats and tales that complemented Chef Isaac DeBoer’s delicious menu items. He did everything but pull a braised rabbit out of his hat.

That’s what makes Scratch & Co. so unique; you never know who or what’s going to pop up. Don Mahaney’s all-day, collaborative cafe and pub serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and craft cocktails. It also hosts guest chefs, live performances and charity events and doubles as an art gallery.

Start your day off with a breakfast sandwich or old-fashioned donut from Hellbender Bagels, devour the Burger of the Week for lunch and dive into a dinner plate of pasta or New Mexican burritos. No matter what you order, just know that there’s real wizardry going on in the kitchen.

TROY HILL  1720 Lowrie St.
412-251-0822, scratchandcopgh.com


The Speckled Egg

Speckled2

The Speckled Egg is more than it’s cracked up to be. Since 2019, it’s been nestled inside the opulent Union Trust Building Downtown, but it has a down-home diner feel to it thanks to friendly service, strong coffee and hearty eats. This sophisticated-without-being-stuffy breakfast-, brunch- and lunch-destination also serves booze. A second location, a collaborative space owners Jacqueline and Nate Schoedel share with Commonplace Coffee, at this writing was poised to open in the SouthSide Works’ Town Square this spring.

The typical plate of hash is elevated to include half a farm — Hen Hash boasts two eggs, potatoes, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, red onion and toast. Bump it up to avocado toast and add a side of sausage or bacon or both. If, at the end of the work day, you find yourself in need of refresh, The Speckled Egg hosts happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., with creative spins on classic cocktails such as the Speckled Egg Old Fashioned, a match made in Heaven Hill Bourbon, Maggie’s Farm Dark Rum and Paul Family Farms Maple Syrup.

DOWNTOWN  501 Grant St.
SOUTH SIDE  428 S. 27th St.
412-251-5248, thespeckledeggpgh.com


Tacosburgh

Lpetrilla Tacosburgh 5195

Variety is the spice of life. If that saying is true, Dormont’s Tacosburgh is extra spicy. The rotisserie and craft cantina added more fire to the tiny borough’s booming business community when it opened in December 2022. Feliz Navidad, indeed.

After partnering with Martin Bolanos, proprietor of the local chain Patron Mexican Grill, Chef Marcos Espinoza and his family combined their Mexican heritage and their experience making Tennessee barbecue to create an eatery that offers the best of both culinary worlds, from enchiladas and tako tacos to an Americano Burger and Southern-style brisket.

After numerous visits, I’ve had just about everything on Tacosburgh’s menu — which offers numerous gluten-free options — but visions of birria tacos dance in my head: Four tacos stuffed with beef that’s been marinated and slow-cooked in a spicy and savory stew then garnished with cilantro, onions, queso fresco and served with black beans and rice. Add a house margarita in an ornamental clay mug to the mix and you’ll feel like you’re on a south-of-the-border holiday without leaving the South Hills.

DORMONT  3239 W. Liberty Ave.
412-207-9688, tacosburgh.com


Taqueria El Pastorcito

Lpetrilla Taqueriaelpastorcito 5404

I’m always on a quest for the quintessential choriqueso. I’ve dipped in and out of a lot of Mexican restaurants over the years, but who knew I’d find the best bubbling cauldron of cheese in New Kensington?

After creating a buzz with their food truck in 2020, Jose and Bernice Tecuanhuehue opened a storefront in the burgeoning business district. Like the food they serve, the space is warm and inviting, with exposed brick walls accented by colorful knickknacks and portraits of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. There’s artistry in the food, too. The house specialty pastor meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo. Hand-sliced pieces of the marinated, boneless pork shoulder are tucked into corn tortillas. My enchiladas verdes slathered in homemade tomatillo sauce wasn’t a red-hot spice onslaught as I’ve experienced at other Mexican eateries, but a dish bursting with all sorts of complex flavors.

Why settle for a Mexican dinner that’s (que)so-so, when there’s delicious, affordable and authentic south-of-the-border fare on Fourth Avenue?

NEW KENSINGTON  929 Fourth Ave.
412-961-4175, taqueriaelpastorcitopa.com


Udipi Cafe

Lpetrilla Updipi 1823

While walking up to Udipi Cafe, I observed a group of people who had just emerged from the restaurant. They stood in a circle, talking, laughing and slapping their full bellies with happy sighs. Immediately, I knew I was going to be another satisfied customer. And I was.

Udipi is an all-vegetarian institution serving southern Indian staples. Even before encountering the well-fed family outside of the restaurant, I could smell the amazing scents from the parking lot. Forget GPS; stick your nose out of the window once you get past the Squirrel Hill Tunnels — you’ll find Udipi.

I lived near Monroeville for years but tend to avoid the area because of its infamous traffic jams. Knowing I might not be back for a spell, I splurged on familiar favorites, from the veggie samosas and garlic naan to Aloo Palak — potatoes and spinach cooked in tomato sauce with fresh Indian spices. I ordered a thin rice crepe called a Sada Dosa and dipped in.

Some things are worth waiting on the Parkway for.

MONROEVILLE
4141 Old William Penn Highway
412-373-5581

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