“Food is essential to life, therefore make it good.”
We both are originally from Pittsburgh but never really went out to eat much growing up other than the occasional McDonald’s trip or diner type place (King’s/Eat’N Park). We were living the good life if someone was graduating high school in our families because it was time to be treated to the Olive Garden or Hoss’s Steak House. If you happen to know these places, you will understand my sarcasm…
After graduating college, we both moved out of the state. Now that we go back to visit, we are able to appreciate a lot more of what the city has to offer. This post focuses on some of the culinary establishments we have come to enjoy.
**Please excuse the following pictures, they were taken with the iPhone**
The Staple… Primanti Brothers
The quintessential Pittsburgh food. You have been working in the steel mill all day and don’t have time to eat a large plate of food? Put it all together on a sandwich and eat it all at once on the go!
If you’ve met anyone from Pittsburgh, watched a TV show about the city or witnessed a Pittsburgh sporting event, Primanti Brothers has been mentioned. Don’t think about it, just go. It’s not gourmet food or anything fancy. Primanti Brothers offers around 25 sandwich options with coleslaw and fries smashed together between two thick pieces of freshly cut bread. You can also request for the fries and/or slaw on the side, but if it’s your first time visiting, get it all together. Add a fried egg for $1 to top it all off to feed your inner egg slut.
They have 17 locations around The Burgh, but if you want the real deal experience, head down to the Strip District for a meal at the original location since 1933! Don’t worry you have time to get there, no excuses, it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Now, if you have been to Pittsburgh before and/or live there, here are the Top 3 restaurants we would recommend.
Unleash your inner carnivore at this meat centric hipster dining spot and indulge in all of your wildest meat fantasies while developing a case of the meat sweats!
Cure is a small, maybe 50 guest (best guess) establishment with 4 seats at the bar. Diners eat while looking up to the open kitchen. Take a trip to the bathroom through the kitchen to get a quick look at the chef’s working their magic in the kitchen.
We started with the large Salumi which consisted of: duck speck, black strap ham, coppa secca, lamb culatello, fiocco, spalla, porchetta secca, coppa di testa, leek ash and porcini salami, Spanish chorizo, chicken rillettes, pate campagnola, duck rillettes, ciccioli, mortadella, nduja
Wow… it was an awesome way to start the meal! We did fight over the last duck rillettes as they were one of our favorites on the plate.
Next up we tried out the Beef Tartare: pickled jalapeño, oyster aioli, black garlic, shallot, cured egg yolk, salt & vinegar chips, butter lettuce.
The pastas are available in full or half portions. We appreciate the thought of half portions here and allowed us to try two different pastas.
1. Parisian Gnocchi – smoked Jubilee Hilltop Farm beef brisket, San Marzano tomato, ricotta, oregano, pine nut, Calabrian chili
2. Squid Ink & Leek Ash Gnudi – octopus and pancetta bolognese, black olive oil, dehydrated smoked tuna, basil
To finish out our meal, we decided on the Charcroute. The Charcroute is served family style and ordered by the person. Below is a one person portion and after everything we consumed previously, it was more than enough. The Charcroute consisted of: boudin noir, bacon confit, squab breast, chicken and sweetbread galantine, trotter croquette, ramp sauerkraut, pickled cherries, smoked-roasted potatoes, meat caramel, espresso mustard & lovage.
Overall, Cure is a great dining option for a date night or a night out with a small group of friends. There is free street parking readily available. Cure has a nice cocktail list and bottles of wine to choose from while dining. The dessert menu had 3 options, none of which we ordered. Meat is essentially the focus here, dessert appears to be something they “have to have” for patrons that need it, but we didn’t find anything special.
Grit & Grace
Asian and modern American foods and concepts come together in this restaurant. We went here for lunch. Modern, rustic and asian decor all equally fill the restaurant.
Grit & Grace starts you out with some Dim Sum options. We had the pork belly bites and the kimchi. The pork belly was moist and a nice flavor while the kimchi had the right amount of spice to it.
We also had the The roasted pork ramen – (roasted pork ramen, mushrooms, 5 min egg, Napa cabbage, carrot, tonkatsu broth)
Overall Grit & Grace has easy parking in garage above the building, friendly staff and a good variety of food options. I’m not aware of a dedicated ramen shop in Pittsburgh, so for now, this is a good choice on a cold winter day. We thought is was a great place to grab lunch while in the city. We overheard other patrons discussing the difference in the dinner menu. We plan on going back to try out the dinner menu soon.
Meat & Potatoes
We went to Meat & Potatoes for dinner. The name says it all. The decor consists of taxidermy and skulls on the walls, chalkboard showcasing cuts of meat, aging barrels for their cocktails and “Edison” lightbulbs.
We ate the Fried Brussels & The Salty Pig Flat Bread (sopressata / pancetta / coppa secca / provolone / basil) as appetizers along with the Bone Marrow which is a MUST! Not many places offer bone marrow as an option let alone of this size. The Flintstones sized Bone Marrow is served with toasted bread and accompaniments of sea salt, gremolata and onion relish. The marrow is so good it melts in your mouth…
Pub Burger – pork belly pastrami / horseradish cheddar / fried egg / special sauce
We also had the Hudson Valley Duck Breast (pastrami crusted duck / sauerkraut pierogies / scallion butter / baby kale / chimichurri) but must have started eating too quickly and forgot to snap a picture.
Over all Meat & Potatoes has easy parking in garage on same block, friendly staff, extensive bar menu with barrel aged cocktails and is located in the cultural district of the city.
There are a lot of new/up and coming restaurants in Pittsburgh. We are excited to learn and try out the new establishments, techniques and delicious food the city has to offer. We look forward to our next visit to the Steel City and hope to try out as many new places as possible! Please let us know if you have any suggestions in the comments below.