Celebrate Pittsburgh’s Food Scene

Bon Appétit or Yelp didn’t have to eat their words when they proclaimed Pittsburgh as the “Next Big Food Town.” And, Zagat, the go-to source for restaurant reviews, named Pittsburgh the “No. 1 Food City” in the United States a few years back.

Much of this acclaim is thanks to Pittsburgh’s chef-driven fare. In fact, the city is home to more than a dozen James Beard Award semifinalists, most recently Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski of Apteka in Bloomfield; Wei Zhu of Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill; and Bethany Zozula of 40 North at Alphabet City in the Northside.

New restaurants and concepts play a large role in Pittsburgh’s hot culinary renaissance. From Moonlit Burgers (Dormont and Uptown) and Gi-jin (Downtown) to Margaux (East Liberty), the recently-reimagined Pusadee’s Garden (Upper Lawrenceville), Doughbar (South Side) and others – there are plenty of Only in Pittsburgh dishes sure to satisfy any hungry appetite.

Consider these tasty news morsels. Yelp users voted upscale sushi and gin bar Gi-jin one of the top 100 restaurants in the U.S. for 2022. Gaucho Parilla Argentina, which recently relocated to a spacious two-story location Downtown with an inviting rooftop deck, was coined one of the top places to eat in the U.S. for 2015 by Yelp. Food & Wine magazine named Chef Justin Severino of Morcilla the best new chef of the Mid-Atlantic region. The publication also declared Squirrel Hill’s Pigeon Bagels as one of the best bagel shops in the nation. And, P&G’s Pamela’s Diner, a Pittsburgh tradition that serves crepe-style pancakes and are presidential approved, was tabbed as having the best breakfast in the Northeast.

The Pittsburgh food scene is on the rise. Today, the city boasts many restaurants all within easy walking distance of Downtown hotels. Newer offerings joining Gaucho Parilla Argentina Downtown are The Market Exchange, Sally Ann’s, The Rebel Room, Bridges & Bourbon, Scarpino and The Standard.

And, Con Alma, one of Esquire Magazine’s Best 27 Bars in America 2021, recently opened its second location in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Downtown Cultural District. Inspired by Pittsburgh’s rich heritage of jazz, Con Alma seeks to return jazz to its rightful place at the forefront of the local music scene while providing patrons with some of the best food and drinks the city has to offer.

Even with all the new dining options, the City of Bridges hasn’t forgotten its roots. A visit to the Original Oyster House will take visitors back 152 years to Pittsburgh’s oldest bar and restaurant. Located in the heart of Market Square, the unique tavern has been designated a historic landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

Pittsburgh’s appetite for Old-World fare - such as pierogies, kielbasa and cabbage rolls introduced by Eastern European immigrants - is still going strong. In fact, the Pierogi Festival and Picklesburgh - a dilly of a pickle festival in honor of Pittsburgh’s own H.J. Heinz - are the city’s annual food festivals.

While French fry and coleslaw garnished Primanti Bros. sandwiches and pierogies are traditional culinary staples of Pittsburgh, the food scene in this city of three rivers has exploded, much like the city itself.

There are now more than 100 restaurants in the Downtown Pittsburgh area and many more in the city’s 90 unique and diverse neighborhoods.

Foodies, from near and far alike, love the Strip District. The Strip, as the neighborhood is called, is all grit and pure Pittsburgh. With its universal grocers, sidewalk vendors and string of small shops, the Strip is a scene seven days a week. Restaurants of note within the neighborhood include DiAnoia’s Eatery, which boasts of creative dishes like the gnocchi sorrentina bread bowl; Kaya and its sea- and sun-inspired dishes from the Caribbean Islands, South America, the Pacific and beyond; and Iron Born Pizza, Detroit-style pizza made from local Pittsburgh ingredients.

Nestled on the top of a steep hill overlooking the city’s skyline is the picturesque neighborhood of Mount Washington, home to a variety of fine-dining restaurants, and it’s the place where visitors can discover one of “America’s Most Stunning Views,” according to USA Today.

Additional neighborhood gems waiting to be discovered include: Poulet Bleu and Umami in Lawrenceville; 2 Sisters 2 Sons in Sharpsburg; Onion Maiden and Alla Famiglia (Allentown); and Siempre Algo in the Northside. And, don’t miss Federal Galley (North Shore) and Galley Bakery Square (East Liberty) – two restaurant incubators building the city’s next hottest dish.