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This guide showcases some of the best places to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Pittsburgh, PA.
I’m SO excited to be sharing this post with you! Whether you’re from Pittsburgh or just visiting, I’m hoping this post will serve as a guide on where to eat in the city. I had a difficult time choosing restaurants for each category—it’s really easy to think of 10 awesome places to eat for dinner—but I wanted to keep this list concise. If you have restaurants to add to the list, please leave them in the comments section--the more recommendations the better!
FL.2 - Downtown
Fl.2, also known as Floor 2, is hands down one of my favorite (or maybe my actual favorite?!) restaurant in Pittsburgh. It’s located downtown inside the Fairmont and I can truly only think of great things to say about it. I have it under the “breakfast” category because they do a mean brunch (think: indulgent French toast with a side of avocado toast and the best brunch cocktails) and the decor is stunning. When you first walk in, you’ll be greeted with a one-of-a-kind bar, followed by different seating sections, all with a slightly different look and feel. This place does not disappoint, and if you’re up for it, their dinner menu is incredible too.
Recommendations: Their menu changes seasonally, but I’m a fan of the market breakfast sandwich, the French toast and the chips & ice cream (the BEST savory/sweet combo). As for drinks, you can’t go wrong with one of their flavored mimosas (current flavor is grapefruit tarragon).
THE VANDAL - Lawrenceville
The Vandal features seasonal menu items that range from eggs to chicken sandwiches to baked goods, and everything I’ve ever tried has been fantastic. Plus, they have a tasty maple latte that’s not to be passed up. It doesn’t hurt that the restaurant itself may be one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in the city: bright, white and with marble tables, you can’t leave without inevitably snapping a photo or two.
Recommendations: the soft scramble. It’s a simple menu item but one of the most popular, probably because the flavor and portion size is spot-on.
PEAR AND THE PICKLE - Troy Hill
Pear the the Pickle has a small but mighty breakfast menu. The egg sandwich may not look like much, but it’s a buttery bun filled with egg and your choice of tomato, bacon or sausage (or maybe all three?!). They also offer a more extensive lunch menu, but I tend to find myself here for breakfast because of their delicious coffee. Bonus: they have board games, so bring your friends, eat a sandwich or two and enjoy the morning with a side of Scrabble.
Other favorite breakfast/brunch spots include: Square Cafe (Regent Square), The Whitfield (East Liberty)
BANH MI AND TI - Lawrenceville
If you’re looking for a quick and affordable lunch option, this is the place. Banh Mi and Ti is a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant serving up traditional banh mi sandwiches, rice bowls and bubble tea. It's a go-to spot for Miguel and I when we're craving something delicious but don't necessarily feel like going to a sit-down restaurant.
Recommendations: the Viet special, drunken beef bowl or the classy chick sandwich
MEDITERRA CAFE - Sewickley
If you happen to find yourself in Sewickley, you can’t pass up Mediterra Cafe. It’s a well-lit restaurant that serves as both a cafe and a market where you can buy freshly made bread and a variety of cheeses. I’m recommending this place for lunch, but they have a fantastic breakfast menu as well.
Recommendations: turkey sandwich, grilled tuna melt, kale salad bowl
BAR MARCO - Strip District
If you’re looking for good Italian food, look no further than Bar Marco. The restaurant itself is quite cozy, and it’s a good balance between fancy and casual. One of my favorite things about Bar Marco is that, though they do have a set cocktail menu, they also offer a create-your-own cocktail option. Essentially you answer a few quick questions (i.e. What kind of liquor do you prefer? Sweet, or strong? Citrus ok?) and then the server reports back to the bartender and the bartender whips you up a surprise drink. I do this every time I go and have yet to be disappointed.
Recommendations: the gnocchi sardi, the kale caesar and the rice pudding
SOJU - Garfield
Soju has only been around for about a year, but it almost instantly made my “favorites’ list after I visited for the first time a few months ago. By definition, Soju is a “clear distilled beverage of Korean origin with varying alcohol content”. I don’t know how else to describe Soju other than SMOOTH, like scary smooth. As for the food, it’s Korean-meets-American in the best way possible.
Recommendations: the killer tofu, bibimbap, and a soju cocktail
SMALLMAN GALLEY - Strip District
Smallman Galley is a unique restaurant concept: it’s an incubator for new restaurants and chefs to experiment in the restaurant business. As a result, you as the customer gets to choose from four different restaurant concepts. When you first walk in, it will resemble a food court—a modern and chic food court—with menus hanging on the wall so you can pick and choose the kind of cuisine you want to eat. Currently, the four types of restaurants within Smallman Galley are serving up pizza, tacos, Vietnamese, and American cuisine. If you happen to find yourself over in the North Side (maybe before/after a sporting event), be sure to check out the sister restaurant with the same concept, Federal Galley.
Recommendations: this is a little tricky since every restaurant is incredible and it all depends on what you’re craving, but I can personally recommend the pizza from Iron Born Pizza
MORCILLA - Lawrenceville
Morcilla serves up Spanish cuisine with plenty of tapas and family-style options on the menu (think: small portions so you can try EVERYTHING or large portions so you can share amongst a group). Personally, I tend to go the tapas route because there are SO many delicious things to try. This place is pretty popular on the weekends, so be sure to make a reservation, or you can always sit at the bar.
Recommendations: the cod croquetas, baby back pork ribs, lavender marcona almonds, and of course sangria
ROUND CORNER CANTINA - Lawrenceville
Ok let me start by saying that tacos are my favorite food, and choosing a favorite was VERY difficult. My other favorite tacos spots are listed below under the “recommendations”, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. I love Round Corner because it's A) affordable B) their house salsa is unique in the best way 3) they have an awesome outdoor patio -- seriously, just go out to the patio.
Recommendations: this is zero percent helpful, but ALL of their tacos are incredible. I typically order a house margarita and either the chorizo or shrimp tacos, always with a side of chips and salsa.
MILLIE’S - Shadyside, Downtown, Lawrenceville (coming soon)
Ok so Millie’s isn’t a dinner spot—it’s actually an ice cream shop. However, I don’t typically go out just for dessert, so I’m including this under the dinner category should you find yourself craving really good ice cream. I somehow find myself at Millie’s once or twice a month, probably because they’re always luring me in with their ever-changing flavors. Oh, and they also just opened up a pop-up location in Bakery Square, so no matter where you are you're able to get your Millie's fix.
Recommendations: peanut butter, lavender, any of their vegan ice creams
HIDDEN HARBOR AND/OR INDEPENDENT BREWING COMPANY - Squirrel Hill
I’m including both bars in the same category because they’re right beside one another and share the same owner, but they have a completely different look and feel. Hidden Harbor is a tropical-themed restaurant featuring extravagant rum cocktails served in fun glassware. It’s a great place to go with a group of people. Opposite that, Independent Brewery features a variety of different beer, many from local breweries. The space is a tad smaller than Hidden Harbor, but it’s super cozy and one of my go-to spots when Miguel and I want a drink or two (it doesn’t hurt that they already know my order when I walk in the door, maybe because I’m the only person who orders a margarita at a brewery?!). You can’t go wrong with either place, and if you have the time, I suggest grabbing a drink at both spots.
Recommendations: Independent has the BEST margarita (yes really!), and Miguel likes any of their Pilsner's; Hidden Harbor's Oh My Guava and Golden Girl cocktails are fantastic.
ACE HOTEL - East Liberty
The Ace Hotel lobby bar is super cozy and has a great food and cocktail menu. There are comfy couches you can sit on, but if those spaces fill up, they have an old gym with ping pong, cornhole and board games. My friends and I actually went here after mine and Miguel's wedding, and it was a great place to hang out with a group of friends.
Recommendations: the Fairweather cocktail, the Fourth River Mule
LORELEI - East Liberty
Lorelei is owned by the same people as Hidden Harbor and Independent, but again, has its own look and feel. It's a 3 minute walk from Ace Hotel, so if you're in the area, be sure to hit up both spots. Lorelei is cool because it's a cocktail bar on one side, and a beer hall on the other, so there's something for everyone.
Recommendations: the Redhead Swizzle cocktail, they make a mean margarita and have an awesome beer selection
Apparently I have a LOT of favorite coffee shops. Therefore, I'm just going to list them in order of location, so no matter where you are, you're able to crap a cup of joe!
- Downtown: Gasoline Street Coffee
- Strip District: De Fer Coffee
- Lawrenceville: Espresso a Mano
- Shadyside: Arriviste
- East Liberty: Ace Hotel, Zeke's
- Squirrel Hill: Commonplace Coffee (+other locations)
- South Side: Big Dog Coffee
- Edgewood: Biddle's Escape
- Oakland: Redhawk Coffee
- Troy Hill: Pear and the Pickle
- Brighton Heights: California Coffee Bar
A HUGE thank you to the following restaurants for partnering with me on this: Fl.2, The Vandal, Banh Mi and Ti, Bar Marco, Soju— you are all genuinely my favorites. Looking for another food guide? Check out my food guide to San Juan, Puerto Rico.