I love food. You love food. Let’s talk…food. Why? First, we have two big events coming up…Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day! (Galentine’s Day is a real thing! Just ask Leslie Knope.) And, well…suddenly nothing in your fridge can compare to a hot, fresh Piccolo Forno pizza. Drool.
On a more serious note, you never really need an excuse to venture out and discover a new favorite restaurant. To help broaden my own restaurant horizons, I asked a few of my favorite foodie friends for their take on Pittsburgh’s best.
The criteria? Restaurants that stood out for being the best of the best for the following occasions: 1) Hanging out with a group of friends 2) Valentine’s Day 3) A casual date and 4) Their hands down favorite no matter the occasion!
Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh | Southside – “You can’t go wrong – a great place for drinks!” “Go on Thursday nights for $5 pretzels and beer cheese! Amazing drink specials.” “The bier garden in the summer? If you haven’t, you should.”
Tako | Downtown – “A great taco joint that has easy to share menus!” “Make sure to call ahead for reservations!”
Bangkok Balcony | Squirrel Hill – “Mainly because I like Thai and it’s hardly ever busy which makes it easier when group plans change all over the place. It is also delicious – I really like their curry.”
The Porch | Oakland – “Specifically brunch, everyone in a group is sure to be pleased.” “Love their take on breakfast! Unique and always delicious.”
Urban Tap | Southside – “Good food but a better beer & whiskey selection.”
Round Corner Cantina | Lawrenceville – “A fun spot for a night out with the girls if you’re the type that enjoys chorizo queso, guac and homemade chips, mac and cheese, margaritas and moscow mules (and really, who doesn’t?)”
The Library | Southside – “Amazing Happy Hour specials for beer and small plates.” “Busy downstairs? Head upstairs for another pool table and small bar plus an outdoor seating area.”
Smoke BBQ Taqueria | Lawrenceville – “Another great taco place!” “Be sure to use NoWait to get a table.” “The chicken apple taco and the mac & cheese. Do it!”
Noodlehead |East Liberty – “Noodlehead is a inexpensive and reliable option for Thai in a cool, rustic atmosphere. The menu is small, but it makes decisions much faster with a big group, plus the inexpensive offerings (nothing is priced over $9) and BYOB feature makes it extra budget-friendly for a group.” “Small menu, quick delivery, & BYOB makes this an easy choice.”
Dish Osteria and Bar | Southside: “Probably my favorite restaurant in the whole city!” “Get the gnocchi.” “Awesome food and cocktails in an intimate setting that isn’t overly formal.”
Il Pizzaiolo | Downtown: “Love their pizza!” “Get their mussels and then dip their bread into it. Delicious!” “Pick the classics here.”
Piccolo Forno | Lawrenceville: “Pizza is a must. Pop over to Grapparia for drinks while you wait (it could take an hour or so, so pacing yourself is key!)”
Benjamin’s Burgers | Northside – “Amazingggg. They have a super small kitchen though which is awesome because everything comes out fresh but sometimes food can take longer. I go there when I’m not in a rush and having food take a little longer won’t be a big deal.”
Fat Head’s | Southside – “If I can go to town with a burger and a beer infront of a guy, he’s probably a keeper!”
Lin’s Asian Fusion | Southside – ” We both love Chinese and it’s easy to share plates.”
e2 | Highland Park – “My favorite brunch in Pittsburgh, full stop. Its doughnuts and savory zeppolis make it worth the trip alone, but their hashes and savory polenta and eggs are also out of this world. Also BYOB, although it has a pricier corkage fee of $6 per bottle. Pro tip: BYO champagne for brunch!”
The Union Grill | North Oakland – “Cozy, convenient, and family-style cooking. Whether you are looking for pierogis or a house-made turkey burger, the Union Grill has got you covered. Don’t forget to order the $5 s’mores for two at the end of your dinner for a sweet treat. (And, DON’T forget to ask about their $10 wine list!)”
Butcher and the Rye | Downtown – “Make a reservation ahead…maybe weeks in advance if you’re looking for a prime time seating.” “We can never decide between the Dirty Pasta and the Burger.”
Wild Rosemary – “Great for a special night out that requires some planning (ie, V-Day, an Anniversary, or other celebration) because it books on weekends up to a year in advance. It is on the somewhat expensive side although BYOB which is a huge plus. It is a teeny tiny (the whole place only seats 28 people), romantic place with ambiance that serves fresh, seasonal American/Mediterranean food.”
Grandview Saloon | Mount Washington- “That view!” “A must for V-day!”
Vallozzis | Downtown – “Best one I’ve ever had was a prefix menu last year from this place called Vallozzi’s.” “Two words: Mozzarella Bar.”
Avenue B | Shadyside – “They have a seasonal chalkboard menu that offers something to please everyone in your group, from the adventurous (octopus) to the less so. If you’ve never been before, get the mussles, which are in a house made smoked tomato broth, and the Kobe meatloaf. You won’t be disappointed! Also BYOB!”
Six Penn Kitchen | Downtown – “When I lived downtown, I always loved to hang out there, for a dinner, quick drink or dessert, I love the vibe and that each level of the place feels like a different restaurant.”
Franklin Inn | North Hills – “Has amazing Mexican-ish food. The basis of the menu is Mexican but the chef will pretty much do whatever he wants as specials and they have the BEST margaritas I’ve ever had (and I’ve done a decent amount of research haha).”
Lulu’s Noodles | North Oakland – “A local favorite since college; inexpensive yet delicious.”
Gaucho Parilla | Strip District – “Just so excellent! Its cool vibe and consistently delicious grilled meats are enough to make me brave the occasionally long waits. You cannot go wrong on the menu.”
Thank you Brina, Maddie, Chelsea, Chris, Andrew, and Morgan for your favorite picks!
Do you have a favorite restaurant not listed above? Spill and share below!