Pittsburgh is a city with a very relaxed feel and friendly people. We are going back for a quick visit, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t looking forward to some good food, like pierogies, and seeing some people that we met previously. The weather might not be nice enough to walk around too much so we’ll have to make the most of our free time. These photos are from our last trip, but we are looking forward to making new memories.
Pittsburgh is a melting pot of a city, which means that it has a variety of food styles that have been combined to create the cuisine that represents the city. The food in Pittsburgh is as relaxed and unpretentious as the city itself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find upscale restaurants with fine food, there are definitely options for that, but the majority of restaurants offer downhome cooking. They are the types of places where you expect to find that the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. We were able to try a variety of simple meals that had a lot of flavor and taste.
There are a couple of things that you have to eat when visiting Pittsburgh. First of all, you will find pierogis on the menus of many restaurants in the downtown area, so you have to try them at least once. We actually had a few varieties while we were there from the traditional potato and cheese filled pierogi to a Reuben pierogi that we found at a restaurant that specialized in pierogis called The Pierogi Bar. Of course, we had to try them with a local beer. Pierogis are served either boiled, pan fried, or deep fried. Another item that you will find at various burger and sandwich restaurants is the Pittsburgher, which is a burger topped with coleslaw and French fries. We heard that Primanti Bros, which is a diner style restaurant, was the best place to get a Pittsburgher. It is certainly an acquired taste and the burger tasted a little bit more like a meatloaf rather than a plain old hamburger.
Another must have item when in Pittsburgh would be fresh baked pretzels. They can be found all throughout Pennsylvania and the ones in Pittsburgh were as good as any that we have had. Whether you like your pretzels with a beer-cheese sauce or yellow mustard, you will find plenty of places that offer them as a snack or appetizer. One interesting place that we found was called The Yard, an American Gastropub, which specialized in a variety of toasted cheese sandwiches. The toasted buffalo mac and cheese sandwich was extremely decadent, but equally delicious.
For an upscale Italian meal, Lydia’s is ideal. We shared the lasagna, which was certainly large enough for two people. We also had an interesting Cajun shrimp pasta that was served with garlic cheese bread at the August Henry Burger Bar. It was also the place where we had the traditional pierogis that are served with sautéed onions and sour cream. We had our pierogis pan fried, which is our preferred way to enjoy these delicious potato cakes.
If you like good, simple, food that tastes good and fills your stomach, then Pittsburgh has plenty of options for you. You can also find a nice variety of local craft beer that goes great with the humble meals that are found throughout the city. As always, we asked the locals where to go and received a lot of recommendations that helped us find places to grab a bite to eat. One place that we visited several times, mostly because of the friendly owner and staff, was Crystal, which is more of a neighborhood bar that serves Mediterranean food.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is one of those down-to-earth cities where the people work hard, play hard, and always have a kind word to say. They take pride in their sports teams and their city, even during times when the economy wasn’t as strong. Fortunately, things are on the rise at the moment and jobs are plentiful and the city is experiencing a revival. As one of our cab drivers told us, depending upon what you do, you can come to Pittsburgh now and probably find not one job, but three. As friendly and welcoming as the people were that we met, we are definitely happy to see things improving for them.
One thing that you notice immediately when you visit Pittsburgh is that it is an unpretentious city. Most buildings are unassuming and have the feel of the turn of the century, with the exception of one glass skyscraper which is shaped like a castle and looks very out of place compared to the rest of the city. The streets are very walkable and there are a variety of wonderful restaurants, especially in the Strip, which is on Penn Street in downtown Pittsburgh.
With the three rivers converging in Pittsburgh, the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers, yellow bridges can be found at almost every turn. It is certainly worth walking to Point State Park and taking a stroll along the river for a relaxing afternoon and enjoying the views of the iconic baseball stadium that sits across from it. With rolling hills all around the city, going up to Mount Washington will provide you with wonderful views of the downtown area as well as the park. Another sight not to be missed is the famous Heinz building with its ketchup bottle proudly pouring the condiment for all of the city to see.
We only had a short time to spend in Pittsburgh, but we expect to be back again to enjoy even more of the city’s hospitality. It was definitely warm and welcoming with a very casual and relaxed feeling. The city is a melting pot of a variety of central European cultures from Polish, German, Italian, and more, which makes it a very unique cultural city as well as culinary city to visit.