Pittsburgh has come a long way from its industrial roots. In the past five years or so, the City of Bridges has traded steel for soulful cuisine and creative libations, with industry leaders like Richard DeShantz and Wei Zhu earning national recognition and the city as a whole regularly topping lists of the best American food cities. Communities like Lawrenceville, East End, and Squirrel Hill have seen restaurant opening after opening, while the pierogi shops and red sauce restaurants of Pittsburgh’s Eastern European and Italian communities share space with Latin eateries like Market Square’s Las Velas, James Beard contenders like Chengdu Gourmet, and street food like Cilantro & Ajo.
In 2020, COVID-19 turned the world upside down, and the Burgh’s food and beverage industry along with it. The pandemic closed a number of great restaurants permanently, including Spoon, Zorba’s, and even the Carlton Restaurant (after 37 years in business). But many were able to weather the storm with creative pivots, strong customer loyalty, and industry support initiatives like Pittsburgh Virtual Tip Jar and Allegheny Eats. Las Velas started offering family-sized “Pandemic Packs” of fajitas, tacos, and burritos; Driftwood Oven moonlighted as a bakery on the weekends to make up for lost pizza revenue; and the Warren bottled up their beverages for consumers to enjoy at home, and served free to-go meals to furloughed service industry employees. After going dark in 2020, even Pittsburgh’s annual food and drink festivals, like Picklesburgh, Pierogi Festival, and Barrel & Flow Fest (formerly Fresh Fest), have reemerged this year.
These days diners are heading back out to their favorite eateries, and trying out new restaurants and bars to make up for lost time. Whether you’re rediscovering local favorites or stopping by the Steel City for a weekend, the city’s must-try restaurants will be glad to have you.
Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Allegheny County Health Department.
Pittsburgh native Briana “Bree” White is an avid traveler and best friends with a 20-pound fox terrier named Murphy. She is also the founder of the blog Breelicious Bites, where she chronicles her journey all over the city of black and gold to taste what local eateries have to offer and share her thoughts about everything from the magnificent to the mundane.Read More