To many, Pittsburgh biggest culinary claim to fame may be its Primanti sandwich, a concoction consisting of grilled meat, melted cheese, an oil & vinegar-based coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries between two thick slices of Italian bread. And yet that’s saying that Philadelphia’s greatest cuisine contribution is the cheesesteak or New York pizza. When you come to Pittsburgh, here are five unique (and delicious) foodie experiences you don’t want to miss so you can be an honorary Pittsburgh foodie when traveling in the United States.
1.) Dining at a chef restaurant incubatorAs anyone in the food industry can tell you, having your own restaurant is no easy feat. It’s hard to get established and the well had better never runneth dry. So that’s what makes the Smallman and Federal Galley so different. These are two restaurants that serve as a starting point for new restaurant concepts in Pittsburgh where talented, undiscovered chefs get to make their mark and name. Incubator classes rotate out so the Galleys restaurants do feature new chefs and cuisines periodically.
2.) Pierogis galoreIn a city like Pittsburgh there’s no shortage of places to order pierogis. This isn’t too surprising considering that thousands of Polish immigrants settled in the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The best place for authentic Polish pierogis, 21st century style? S & D Polish Deli in the city’s Strip District. It’s like a little taste of Warszawa right in the land of yinz and Steelers.
3.) Eating in a little slice of heavenThere are a number of Thai restaurants in Pittsburgh, many of which are quite good. But the one that stands apart from the rest is Pusadee’s Garden, located in the city’s Upper Lawrenceville neighborhood, whose piece de resistance (besides its Pad See Ew) is its beautiful gardens where patrons can dine. You would never know that the hustle and bustle of a major city is literally right over the garden wall.
4.) Pitabread from PitalandSome people say their favorite smell is right when they walk into an ice cream parlor or candy shop. For others, it’s the aroma of fresh pita bread right from the oven. Not to mention it’s incredibly neat seeing the factory-style operation of pita being made right before your eyes. Of course while you’re here, you’ll want to stock up on every guilty pleasure Mediterranean food item you may be craving. Trust me when I say it’s worth a trip to the South Hills for this.
5.) Trying some really unique ethnic cuisinesDespite being a smaller major city, Pittsburgh isn’t lacking in the ethnic restaurant front. Save for cities like New York or Washington D.C., how many others can claim an Uzbek restaurant? (Well, the question could also be posed as to how many people could locate Uzbekistan on a map?). Kavsar is located on Mt. Washington and offers incredible bang for your buck when you want to get your Uzbek (and Russia) food groove on. And then there’s Abay for Ethiopian cuisine, when you have injera and doro wat on your mind.