1. Church Brew Works, Lawrenceville
If the idea of a church-turned-brewery doesn’t get you intrigued, then its food sure will. Complete with stained glass windows and a de-sanctified alter used for brewing, Church Brew Works produces Celestial Gold handcraft beers to wash down Beer-Steamed Mussels, Buffalo Burgers, and Wagyu Steak. A favorite are the Untraditional Pierogis, stuffed daily with anything from plantains to rattlesnake.
2. The Original Primanti Bros., Strip District
For those days when you just want simple comfort food, Primanti Bros is a Pittsburgh staple . Open 24/7, you can gobble down sandwiches like The Pitts Burger Cheese Steak with some Smallman Street Fries on the side — fries smothered in chili, cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Yeah, it maybe won’t make your heart the healthiest, but it will make it happy.
3. Pamela’s Diner, Strip District
In Pittsburgh’s Strip District a color-poppin’ 1980s breakfast diner sits on the corner of 21st Street and Mulberry Way. It’s kind of hard to miss. The retro interior of Pamela’s Diner is a casual place to grab one of the heartiest breakfasts in town — Pamela’s Famous Crepe Hotcakes and the Pittsburgh Hash. Leave your card at home, though — Pamela’s is cash only.
4. Point Brugge Café, Point Breeze
For a little Euro-flair, Point Brugge Café is the go-to bistro in town. Think traditional brunch foods with a twist, such as a coffee-rubbed Brunch Burger and the Chili Verde Baked Eggs. But sunny summer afternoons on the patio definitely call for their fresh Prince Edward Island mussels.
5. Meat and Potatoes, Cultural District
A self-proclaimed gastropub, Meat and Potatoes fry their pickles and sloppy joe their wild boar. With an original take on almost every dish they serve, don’t expect the drinks to be any different (their Barrel-Aged Manhattan or the Ginger Blossom is where it’s at). They do try to keep seats open for walk-ins, but locals know it’s better to call ahead.
6. Sienna Mercato, Cultural District
Also located in the Cultural District, Sienna Mercato houses three different dining options. The Emporio on the first floor features four types of meatballs, one of which is vegetarian, along with a handful of sauces and gravies that range from tzatziki to chicken gravy. Up a floor, the Mezzo specializes in Italian tastes such as charcuterie. Il Tetto, the rooftop beer garden, provides a killer view for you of Pittsburgh’s skyscrapers as you drink one of their draft beers.
7. The Park House Tavern, Northside
On the Northside one of Pittsburgh’s oldest taverns boasts more than 50 craft beers, weekly free live music, and atypical pub food from gyros to spinach burritos. The Park House a great place to relax with friends, watch a Steelers game, or just crack open some peanuts and throw back a few beers.
8. Gene’s Place, Oakland
If you enjoy dive bars, head straight to Gene’s Place. Beer averages a cheap $2.50 depending on the night. It’s a great place to kick back and chill with friends. Unlike most college-town bars that have a rowdy student following, Gene’s has a solid draw of both laid-back students and friendly locals.
9. The Original Oyster House, Market Square
Located in the heart of Pittsburgh, The Original Oyster House has stayed true to its roots as one of the oldest restaurants in the region. As its name suggests, their oysters are what they’re known for. Have oysters with a side of ribbon-cut potato chips and you’re set for the rest of the evening.
10. Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, Mt. Washington
One of the best spots for a scenic view of downtown Pittsburgh, Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is a pescatarian’s utopia. With all of their fish flown in daily, everything on the menu is made fresh and prepared expertly. Whether you’re in the mood for Parmesan Swordfish from Nova Scotia or want to check out their new sushi bar, Monterey Bay prides itself in providing a unique atmosphere. Do yourself a favor and don’t leave before you wolf down either the Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding or the Angel Food Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
11. Gandy Dancer Saloon, Station Square
If you want to feel like you are going back in time, here’s the place to do it. Located in the Grand Concourse, the Gandy Dancer is modeled after the early 20th-century rail station that used to reside here. Local rec: IPA Fish & Chips or the Emerald Cove Oysters from British Columbia.
12. Casbah, Shadyside
Nothing beats Mediterranean food coupled with a wine bar. Except perhaps all this, plus knowing that the place sources its meats locally. That’s Casbah for you. Keep a lookout for Casbah at PastaFest, which takes place in June.
13. Carson City Saloon, Southside
As a sports bar, Carson City Saloon is always packed on game day. Heck, it’s always packed. Whether you’re in the mood for burgers or wings or buffalo chicken dip, the classic bar food is always perfect for watching a Pirates game on the rooftop.
14. The Library, Southside
A book nerd’s delight, The Library has created a menu solely around literature. If you’re in the mood for a spicy burger order the Farenheit 451. Maybe you’re in the mood for a pizza but aren’t sure which one, so order An Idiot’s Guide to Pizza. With a tag line of “Once Upon a Beer,” the witty references are sure to make any literary buff smile.
15. Carson Street Pub Crawl
It’s daunting to try to mention every bar in the booming Southside District. If you want to experience the bars, pubs, and taverns, it’s best just to go on the Carson Street Pub Crawl. Along with the Carson City Saloon and The Library, you’ll get to hit up places like the Tiki Lounge, Lava Lounge, and bar11.
[Note: Jeromy was a guest of Visit Pittsburgh.]