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Pittsburgh is home to some of the best pierogi joints in the country, so make sure to check out a few of our favorites next time you're in town.
The “P” in Pittsburgh stands for Pierogi and no one will convince me otherwise. During the Industrial Era, Eastern European immigrants flocked here by the thousands to work in the steel industry, open businesses and establish their lives in the United States. They brought with them several dishes we still enjoy today, but perhaps the most well-known is the humble dumpling, the Pierogi.
Dough is rolled out and cut into circles, filling is added, and the dough is turned over to form a pocket of deliciousness. Polish grandmothers across the region would make different versions using traditional Eastern European ingredients such as sauerkraut, farmer’s cheese and my personal favorite, the potato and cheese, in which creamy mashed potatoes are blended with cheese and folded into a pocket of carbohydrate joy.
The dumplings are boiled and then pan fried, and usually served swimming in copious amounts of butter and caramelized onions. It’s comfort food to the max and with the creation of the Mrs. T’s Pierogi Company, can be found in most grocery stores’ frozen food section anywhere in Western Pennsylvania and across the country. I went to five of the top places in Pittsburgh to see their version of this classic dish. From restaurants known for their burgers, to a deli in the Strip District and a surprise Pierogi themed curveball, trying this dish at any of the places below is guaranteed to not disappoint.
I know, ‘Burghers is known for their smash burgers, not their sides. But I would be remiss if I didn’t include them on this list. To be clear, I don’t generally like deep-fried pierogies. The flash frying can make the dough tough. So, I don’t know what magic they use at ‘Burghers to prevent this from happening, but the fried pierogies they offer as a side are perfectly crunchy, with a pillowy soft inside that will make you forget about the burger on your tray.
One of the most famous breweries in the city for its atmosphere inside a historic church, the Brew Works specializes in bar food with an Eastern European flair. The “Traditional Pierogies” on their appetizer menu are served with caramelized onions and melted butter on a bed of sour cream. Seared to toasty perfection, these pierogies go great with one of Church Brew Works signature beers.
We can’t talk about Polish food in the city without talking about S&D Polish Deli in the Strip District. These dense delicacies are made by hand and look like they came out of a Polish grandparent’s kitchen. All of the traditional varieties are available, including sauerkraut, potato, farmer’s cheese, and mushroom. I recommend making this your last stop in the Strip District for the day, though, as you won’t want to do much walking after this meal.
Is McKees Rocks a slightly longer trek from downtown Pittsburgh? Yes. Will you regret making the trip out to Pierogies Plus? Absolutely not. These homemade pierogies are served out of a walk-up window, outside of a converted gas station. While they do offer a wide range of Eastern European dishes, we obviously came for the pierogies. They do have a few bistro tables set up outside for seating, but be advised, they only serve the pierogies hot seasonally. In the summer months, you order them cold, take them home, and fry them up yourself. It only takes a few minutes and is absolutely worth the time and effort. We tried cottage cheese and chive and the potato and cheddar versions. Mmmm mmmm mmmm!
One of the consistently top-rated restaurants in the city, Butterjoint is a surprisingly low-key place. They offer two different ways to order their pierogies. One is the Traditional Pierogies appetizer, simply served with those glorious butter-soaked caramelized onions and sour cream. The other is a larger portion as an entrée, accompanied by a variety of pickled vegetables and/or kielbasa. Admittedly, I wasn’t very hungry when I went so I only ordered the appetizer version, halfway through which, I wished I had ordered the larger portion.
What?! Why is there a pizza place on this list? Pizza isn’t a pierogi!
I know. But before you burn me for pierogi hearsay, you have to try the pierogi pizza at Pizza Pronto in Oakland. I, too, was a non-believer. A friend of mine made me do it. And dang it if he wasn’t right. Pizza Pronto is a staple for quality pizza in Oakland and their Pierogi pie is no exception.
A crunchy pizza crust layered with creamy mashed potatoes, onions and a generous amount of both cheddar and mozzarella cheese combine to make this one of the best food surprises for me in recent memory. Pierogies are known as a peasant food. Luxurious isn’t usually a word that goes with them. But since I’m already recommending a pierogi pizza, I might as well go all the way and give it the descriptor that was truly unexpected for me - this pizza is luxurious.
While I didn't stop at these locations on as a pierogi purveyor this trip, these restaurants, food trucks and churches are also Pittsburgh-approved for having top class pierogi.
Originating from monthly pop-up pierogi nights in Pittsburgh's East End, Apteka is one of Pittsburgh's most celebrated pierogi restaurants, and was named one of the best restaurants in America in 2022. Inside, you'll find a celebrated Central and Eastern European menu that centers around the pierogi that made it famous. Plus, Apteka is fully vegan so everyone can enjoy this culinary delight!
Those looking for a traditional pierogi experience, look no further than St. Mary's! Each Friday morning from Labor Day to Memorial Day, volunteers fill the church to perfectly craft handmade pierogies. From peeling the potatoes to baking the fillings, these pierogies are created by hand and are available for take-out on Fridays.
Schedule found here.
It wouldn't be a Pittsburgh festival without pierogies! The Pittsburgh Pierogi Food Truck takes the city's pierogi fascination to a new level. When the truck's not serving up warm pierogies at Pittsburgh's largest festivals, follow its Twitter account to track this elusive and delicious secret.
Cop Out Pierogies takes a new spin on a Pittsburgh favorite! From savory pierogies to sweet dessert pierogies, Cop Out Pierogies is a delicious culinary adventure from start to finish. You'll find adventurous flavors from lump crab to s'mores and everything in between, but if you don't find your perfect flavor, you can also create your own custom creation.
*Special thanks to Brett Deresienski, a graduate student in the Food Studies program at Chatham University and fan of all things pierogi.