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A collision of college and cultural cuisines
The Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh is one of the most unique in the city. Nine months of the year, the streets are busy with University of Pittsburgh and Carlow students, adding to the full-time mix of world-class hospital employees.
Food options vary as much as the people you see on the sidewalk. There's great fare to go for the busy professionals, Pittsburgh standards and a ton of international options making this a region you can sample foods from around the world in just a few blocks.
We break down some of our favorites to give you the flavors of Oakland.
When you make something this well, you put it right in your name. CHiKN brings fantastic Nashville hot chicken to Oakland, available in nugget, tender or sandwich form and prepared to your heat level.
We recommend going big with the Mac Daddy, their signature sandwich loaded with homemade mac n' cheese, or their chicken and waffles smothered in honey butter and maple syrup.
Located just around the corner from CHiKN, Stack'd lets you build your own burgers with 25+ specialty sauces and exotic toppings. Wings, fries, salads and bowls are also available.
Nurses, Carlow students, everyone agrees - Sciulli's is the spot to order your pizza from in Oakland. This fixture for 40 years makes their dough fresh daily to bake into golden brown sicilian and pan pizzas topped just how you like it.
If you're new to the region, there's some things you just HAVE to do. Chief among these is eating at Primanti Bros for the iconic Only in Pittsburgh sandwich piled high with coleslaw and french fries. The Oakland location keeps the charm of the original signage and hand-painted murals like the Strip District original location, and the signature sandwiches are just as memorable.
While the outside may look modern, the interior of Pamela's is like stepping out of time and into a movie. Retro board games line the walls and the brightly colored booths and patterned tables would fit right at home in Twin Peaks or Riverdale. Add to that their celebrated crepe-hotcakes and can't-beat hash, and there's always a reason to bring the whole family to Pamela's. (Parents, don't read this: also the perfect hangover cure).
Baby Loves Tacos Thunderdome
Two men enter; one man leaves (with great food). Besides having the coolest name in Oakland, the Baby Loves Tacos Thunderdome offers up fresh, affordable tacos you can mix-and-match from chicken to chorizo, sweet potato and cauliflower. For bigger appetites, the smobro (smothered burrito) and bigly gordita crunch will keep even your hungriest friends satisfied.
Centenario Mexican Grille
With a massive menu of Mexican favorites, Centenario is a must-stop for authentic cuisine in Oakland. Loaded lunch specials featuring pollo fundido and huevos rancheros, tempting tacos filled with carne asada, lamb and other favorites plus fajitas and Mexican torta (a sandwich with your choice of protein topped with a spread of beans and sour cream) means there's something here for everyone to try and love.
There's no website to link you to, but trust us, Las Palmas is serving up street tacos that you'll be craving and coming back for. Filling $3 tacos are cooked to order outside, then you're free to load them with all the fixins and a variety of sauces, making this an authentic street food stop loved by natives and travelers.
Zen's Noodle House
This small, casual ramen spot is usually packed with college students, and for good reason. Their Japanese ramen (the shoyu is my favorite of the bunch) is the perfect mix fresh ingredients in a delicious broth, topped with a perfectly soft-boiled egg. You'll be scraping your spoon off the bottom of the bowl to get the last bite.
Looking for Korean and Japanese flavors? This fast-paced cafe is sure to please! Their Korean-style fried chicken wings are the star of the show, with takoyaki (Japanese octopus), Tatsuta Age (fried chicken with ginger) and Tteokbokki (rice cakes with a spicy sauce) rounding out a unique menu.
Treats N Beans
Celebrating the end of the semester or just want to end your night with something decadent? Customize waffles, crepes, pancakes and more with mouthwatering toppings at Treats N Beans, served aloingside espresso-based coffees.
Farm-fresh dairy and handspun shakes makes the Milkshake Factory a top dessert destination in Pittsburgh. Grab something chocolatey or go more exotic with fried ice cream, bananas foster and cookie dough fudge flavors.
Late-night sweets specialist Insomnia Cookies keeps your studies and cram sessions going, delivering their freshly-baked favorites into the wee hours. Join their cookie club to start earning free cookies, available in a variety of favorites including gluten-free and vegan, as well as brownies, cookie cakes, ice cream and brownies.