If someone tells you that Pittsburgh is “the next big food city,” odds are, they’re from Pittsburgh. In the past few years, the same borderline obnoxious pride that Pittsburgh has for its sports teams has extended to the city’s restaurants. We’re officially a food town. And we want you to know it.
For a long time, the eating conversation in Pittsburgh revolved around two things: pierogies and putting french fries on sandwiches. While both remain Pittsburgh staples (and we’ll tell you the best places to find them here), today, seemingly every corner of the city is exploding with upscale bistros, creative pizzerias, and cafes.
Below you’ll find recommendations for our 25 favorite places to eat and drink in Pittsburgh - with everything from soup dumplings to vegan Polish food.
With their light, thin-crust pizzas and the lively - and very red - space, Dinette taught the city that sometimes it’s fun to get dressed up and spend $20 on a pie. When this place opened in 2008, their prosciutto-arugula pizza was revolutionary, and it remains one of the best dishes in the city. Dinette still holds up and it’s a great place to go with anyone you’re close enough to say, “Sorry, I don’t want to share.”
Old-school Pittsburgh is alive and well at Tessaro’s, located in the heart of Bloomfield. Lit by neon lights and the glare of televisions playing Steelers and Pens games, Tessaro’s has been a beer and burger institution for over 25 years. The menu is extensive, but don’t bother picking it up - a classic cheeseburger is always the order here.
To eat at Jozsa in Hazelwood, you’ll need a reservation, enough cash to cover the meal, and a party of four or more. Meals are served family-style, with the chef putting out whatever Hungarian dishes he feels like cooking that night. That will almost always include specialties like paprikás csirke (chicken paprikash), lángos (fried bread), and Transylvanian goulash. Bring people who have a hard time deciding what to order, but are down to eat anything that’s put in front of them.
Fl.2 is the spot to impress someone, whether that’s a client or the person you want to be able to introduce as your boy/girlfriend instead of trailing off after “This is Sam, my…” We may say, “Oh, this old thing?” but inside we’re secretly super impressed that Pittsburgh managed to snag a restaurant like this. You drink might come surrounded by smoke and the upscale-American food includes twists on classics like beef carpaccio with lobster and kewpie mayo and tuna tartare with cured egg yolk.
Pittsburgh’s Polish heritage is a source of major pride in this city, so much so that the pierogi is basically our unofficial mascot. Apteka has the classics covered, but with an untraditional take - the menu of rich Polish dishes is completely plant-based. After only a few bites of their Kluski Slaskie (potato dumplings) with carrot broth and porcini “butter,” you’ll try to sneak into the kitchen to steal some to take to your hotel for your toast tomorrow. Located on Penn Avenue in Bloomfield, Apteka’s loud, crowded dining room and strong drinks make it a great spot to go with friends before a night out.
You always thought you’d make a good royal person. Not the whole “must be careful about what you wear, eat, and say” thing, but the part where you go to really fancy parties wearing a hat that’s four feet wide. Lunch at the Cafe at The Frick is as close to that as you can get to that feeling while still in western PA. There’s a glass rotunda and a lush patio, both with views of the surrounding gardens. The lunch menu is a mix of soups, salads, and sandwiches, though the best time to come is from 2:30-4pm on the weekends for high-tea service. If you want lunch to feel like a (very) special occasion, this is the spot.
If you’re going to eat sushi while you’re in Pittsburgh, you should be eating it at Chaya. This place serves beautifully assembled nigiri and rolls in a small space that feels a little bit like a bunker, but one we’d be fine getting stuck in for a few days. You’ll find other classics on the menu like udon and tempura, as well as harder-to-find specialties like tako-su (marinated octopus) and hotaruika (raw baby squid). And, if you want a casual way to try a wide range of dishes, you can also call at least two days ahead for a kaiseki reservation.
Smallman Galley is home to four separate restaurants inside of one hall. Basically, it’s the fanciest food court you’ve ever seen without an escalator maze to get there. The restaurants change every 18 months, with the current residents serving tacos, sandwiches, barbecue, and Eastern-European pub food. When your group can’t agree on one place, or you never like committing to one dish, Smallman is the solution.
For a restaurant named after a confused piece of silverware, Spork confidently serves some of the most creative food in the city. Everything on the menu here is something you think you’ve seen before, but way better. Like the “Bread & Butter,” which arrives with four spreads including a gorgonzola butter we’d like to keep on our person at all times. They have a $65, seven-course tasting menu or you can order a la carte - either way it’s going to be an expensive night, but perfect if you’re celebrating something while you’re in town. If you want something more low-key and are here for longer than a weekend, their weekday Happy Hour (5-7pm at the bar) has excellent cocktail and pizza deals.
You could spend every night you have in Pittsburgh eating at Kaya and still feel like you went to a different restaurant each time. This Smallman Street staple serves dishes from the Caribbean Islands and South America - like plantain nachos, Yucatan hot bean dip, and a burger with Chihuahua cheese and bacon - but there’s also usually something going on. There’s Fried Chicken Thursdays, weekend brunches, monthly vegetarian prix-fixe dinners, and Happy Hour (weekdays from 4:30-6:30pm). But instead of feeling hectic or disjointed, it’s one of the most fun places you can go in the city, especially with a few friends.
Pittsburgh doesn’t have much of a BYO scene, which makes Pizza Taglio a good place to know about. But even if they had a full wine list, we’d still love this East Liberty spot for their Roman-style pizzas, baked in seconds in their wood-fired oven. Our favorite pies include the Greenpointer with hot honey and the Pig Face with guanciale, pecorino, and an egg yolk on top. Make it a pizza one-two punch by grabbing one pie here, and then visiting Dinette just across the street.
If you only have one breakfast in Pittsburgh, it needs to be at Bitter Ends. This Bloomfield diner serves a vegetable-focused menu using produce grown in its own garden. The menu changes frequently - sometimes more than once a day - but staples like the veggie hoagie and chicken sandwich are always solid choices. Grab a mug of bottomless coffee and prepare to become someone who won’t stop talking about vegetables.
The Strip District, just east of downtown, is one of the most touristy areas in the city. And while it’s famous for international specialty markets - Stamoolis Brothers (Greek) and Sambok (Korean) being two great ones - it’s also home to a few of our favorite restaurants in the city, and Gaucho is one of them. The casual, counter-service restaurant serves big platters of wood-fired Argentinian meats and sandwiches. Although the menu is very carnivore-friendly, there are plenty of vegetable options too.
When DiAnoia’s opened in 2016 in the Strip District, it was instantly popular - maybe too popular - and now reservations fill up weeks in advance. When you want to impress someone enough to convince them to date you, though, it’s one of the best options. And when you want really good pizza and to show up in whatever you wore to the Steelers game, there’s Pizzeria Davide (connected to the back of DiAnoia’s). Specialty pies with toppings like bologna and pepper relish are the way to go, but bring a few friends since they only offer them in the 19-inch, extra-large size. There are outdoor picnic tables too, so if you’re here during the winter, bring a scarf, hat, and hand warmers. Though the incredibly hot cheese could probably serve the same purpose if you slipped it into your gloves.
There are a few bagel chains in Pittsburgh, but it’s not a place that’s known for having great options for circular bread. That is until Pigeon Bagels opened in a small brick building on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill. It’s the perfect cure after a long night of brewery hopping and the poppy bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese is one of our favorite combinations. There are also pastries and coffee, and if you’re here on one of the three days a year that the sun is shining, take your bagels and coffee to Frick Park up the road.
This charming Regent Square cafe serves French pastries in a beautiful space with floor-to-ceiling windows, tiled floors, and plenty of French music - basically, our dream apartment if we decided to reenact a dramatic quitting scene and move to the outskirts of Paris. The menu is made up of classics like croissants, baguettes, and cookies, as well as sandwiches, salads, and locally-roasted coffee. Madeleine also has daily specials, so we wouldn’t be surprised if you find an excuse to stop by multiple times during your trip.
There are plenty of guides that are going to tell you to beeline straight for Primanti Brothers to get a sandwich with coleslaw and french fries on it. It’s a piece of the city’s history and worthwhile for that alone. But that’s not where we’re going to send you - when we want a sandwich, we go to Duncan St. Sandwich Shop. Served on homemade focaccia and solidly the size of a brick, options include the Everything Seasoned Pork (our go-to), Rosemary/Brown Sugar/Black Pepper Turkey, and Roasted Mushroom (vegan). While you’re there, be sure to try the homemade sodas, peanut carrots, and daily homemade Rice Krispies treats.
In the span of a year, Baby Loves Tacos went from cooking on a small portable grill on Penn Avenue to opening their own brick-and-mortar in the heart of Bloomfield. Even a few years later, this place can sell out on any night, so plan to get here well before closing (8pm weekdays, closed weekends). The menu features tacos, burritos, and bowls with specialties like cinnamon brisket and smoked pork, in addition to great vegetarian options like adobo carrots and buffalo cauliflower. It’s basically take-out only since there’s very little standing room, but even if you have to eat out on the sidewalk, it’s worth stopping by for lunch if you’re in or around the neighborhood.
Like compliments and photos of celebrities grocery shopping in sweatpants, some things never get old. That’s how we feel about dinner at Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33. We could stay in this former laundromat in Squirrel Hill for hours, eating soup dumplings, pork buns, and stinky tofu, and wondering why so many commercials take place in laundromats. The small restaurant gets pretty busy, but the kitchen is quick, so don’t be discouraged if there is a short line - especially since you can wait it out with a tiki drink at Hidden Harbor across the street.
If you need coffee before you can string words together in the morning, or it’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re looking for some caffeine and a snack, stop in at Arriviste on Ellsworth Avenue. Although the cafe is small and looks like the “cool floor” of a college library, it’s a comfortable place to pick up coffee or sit for a while with a laptop. The staff discusses blends like a parent talks about their children and will recommend something new to try, even if your go-to order is usually “hot coffee, please.”
Pittsburgh has become a brewery town and it’s pretty hard to go wrong picking one. But Cinderlands Warehouse in the Strip District has quickly gone to the top of our list. Housed in what was once an all-you-can-eat spaghetti place popular with elementary school field trips, this two-story brewery/restaurant has games, a roof deck, and a large menu. It’s a bit all over the place - pierogies next to pimento cheese next to beer-can chicken - but full of actually good food that we’d come here for even if they didn’t serve fantastic craft beers.
It’s not every day that you get to drink a beer inside a hundred-year-old brewery, much less a Hawaiian Punch IPA or Count Chocula Porter. Hitchhiker Brewing already had a reputation for making some of Pittsburgh’s best beers before they opened a second location inside of the historic Fort Pitt Brewing building in Sharpsburg. The rustic space is massive, which makes it an easy place to meet with large groups of friends, even if it includes kids and strollers.
Part Step Brothers reference, part wine bar, this is one of our favorite places to drink in the city. There’s kitschy artwork, vintage furniture, and an impressive wine list with options you won’t find anywhere else in town. Plus, they offer 40-50 of them by the glass, as is the Allegheny Wine Mixer way. Basically, if you like wine, want to learn more about it, or just want to get tipsy with friends while pretending to know that Ciliegiolo is a kind of grape and not an Italian candy, head to this Lawrenceville spot.
Mixtape is a bar that looks like a middle school boy’s dream living room. There are bean bag chairs, a giant projection TV, and a board game selection rivaling Toys-R-Us (RIP). All of this would be great on its own, but Mixtape also serves some of the best drinks in the city. There’s nowhere else we know where you play Guess Who while sipping cocktails this good. This is our go-to spot for impressing visitors who aren’t yet convinced that Pittsburgh is cool, and you can expect to see people in sweatpants on their laptops taking advantage of the free wifi right next to groups pregaming for a night out.
Kelly’s looks like a generic dive bar - there are neon signs, cheap drinks, dim lighting, and regulars who might have accidentally glued themselves to the bar stools 20 years ago. But it’s a Pittsburgh classic and serves one of the best bowls of mac and cheese you’ll find while surrounded by vinyl booths. It’s served bubbling-hot and takes a solid 20 minutes to bake, but just have a few more $4 daily cocktails while you wait.