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Pittsburgh’s Food Streets and Notable Restaurants and Stores

 

Pittsburgh has its staple food local cuisine and good restaurants all over the city.  Luckily, there are several Food Streets where good restaurants naturally agglomerate.  Since everyone has a different taste, I have done my best to feature Food Streets in this article that satisfy as many different tastes as possible. 

 

The map below shows you where they are located in relation to the Golden Triangle.

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Drawing of "Pittsburgh - hell with the lid taken off."

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#1 Strip District (map)

 

Pittsburgh’s Strip District is one of the many tourist attractions in Pittsburgh.  Besides the ever present Steelers, Pirates and Penguins merchandising stores that paint the street in black and gold, the Strip District is one of the top food streets in Pittsburgh.  Here you find some good restaurants, street vendors that sell delicious finger food, and some of the best food vendors.

Mural in Pittsburgh's Strip District
Pittsburgh's Strip District
Pittsburgh's Strip District
Pittsburgh's Strip District
Pittsburgh's Strip District
Pittsburgh's Strip District

The following list has some of the top restaurants and stores in the Strip District:

 

“Lotus Food Company” (map)

One of the best Asian supermarkets in Pittsburgh

 

 “Wholey’s” (map) [pronounced: woolly’s]

This is a Pittsburgh staple, established in 1912.  Wholey’s is a prominent large fish and other meats market and grocery store.  They also sell some prepared food that you can consume upstairs.  Kids will enjoy the two animated displays.

You enter through the seafood section, where you can see tons of fresh seafood on display and even aquariums with live sea creatures that you can buy.  Then the path leads you to the other meats section and into the grocery section which is then followed by the registers.  If you like meats, go there, and even if it is only for a look.

 

“Primanti Brothers” (map) [pIr-manee]

This is the original Primanti Bros. restaurant.  Please see my review here.

 

“Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.” (map)

This is yet another staple of Pittsburgh’s food culture.

 

“S&D Polish Deli” (map)

In the Pittsburgh Staple Foods page, I have told you how wonderful Kielbasa and Pierogies are.  Here is your chance to buy authentic Polish Kielbasa, Pierogies and much more in their grocery section or to consume them in their restaurant section.

#2 Grandview Ave (map)

 

Grandview Ave on top of Mount Washington many of the best views of downtown Pittsburgh and some of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh.  There is hardly anything more romantic than eating dinner in one of the Grandview restaurants and seeing the sunset through their large windows.

 

The four most notable restaurants here are:

“Monterey Bay Fish Grotto” (map)

 

This is one of the more expensive restaurants in Pittsburgh with two-level seating that ensures that most guests can see the Golden Triangle from their table. As the name implies, Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is mostly known for their seafood and the more than 10 fish species they feature every night.  But they also have good steaks and salads.

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is located in a tall building and the restaurant is one of the highest vista points in Pittsburgh.  When you arrive, don’t be confused by the unassuming entrance.  There is nothing but an elevator that takes you up to the restaurant and when the doors open, you will be in another world.

View of the Golden Triangle from the Monterey Fish Grotto on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington
Food at the Monterey Fish Grotto on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington
View of the Golden Triangle at dusk from the Monterey Fish Grotto on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington
View of the Golden Triangle at sunset from the Monterey Fish Grotto on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington
View of the Golden Triangle after sunset from the Monterey Fish Grotto on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington

“LeMont” (map)

 

LeMont is probably among the top 3 restaurants in Pittsburgh.  It used to be high class and a necktie and jacket were required for gentlemen; nowadays, business casual attire is acceptable.  I have been there 3 times and I loved the food – the food they serve is American and seafood.  Don’t expect a lot of food, though.  We found it was very tasty and nicely designed on the dishes.  Since the change to business casual, the food decoration is not as fancy as it used to be.  As you may expect, LeMont is on the expensive side.

The view through the large glass panes is wonderful and a perfect location for a romantic sunset dinner.

“Grandview Saloon” (map)

 

The name says it all.  You have a great view on the Golden Triangle and the food is much more casual compared to LeMont and Monterey Bay Fish Grotto.  Unlike the other two restaurants, Grandview Saloon has quite a bit of outdoor seating on two decks.

The food is American and Italian, including hamburgers, sandwiches, pasta, and lots of seafood dishes.

“Altius” (map)

 

Altius is an upscale Four Diamond restaurant rated by AAA specializing on contemporary American cuisine.  It has good reviews and is on the expensive side.  I have never been here, so I can only ask you to please check out the reviews and decide for yourself if this is for you.

#3 “International Corner” in Squirrel Hill (map)

 

If you like international food, especially authentic Asian food, then look no further than the corner of Murray Ave and Forbes Ave in Squirrel Hill.  Specifically:

  • Forbes Ave between Murray Ave and Shady Ave
  • Murray Ave between Forbes Ave and Forward Ave

 

Both streets have back-to-back restaurants, coffee and tea shops and small stores, but there are also an Eat’N Park and a Giant Eagle in the midst of it all. 

As this area is frequented by Chinese and other Asian students, you will find many of the best and most authentic Asian restaurants in Pittsburgh here.

 

Below is a selection of my four favorite restaurants at the “International Corner”.  Those are all authentic Chinese restaurants and I like to stress the word “authentic”.  Meaning that you will not find General Tso’s chicken or other American-Chinese food inventions there.

Food at Sichuan Gourmet
Making noodles at Sichuan Gourmet

“Sichuan Gourmet” (map)

 

Originally started as a second restaurant from the owner of China Star (map, reviews, website), Sichuan Gourmet has long been sold to new owners, and their food has not changed and it is fabulous.  Beware, this restaurant makes authentic Szechuan food and that means it is HOT. 

The restaurant is quite successful and they have a second location just a few miles away in the Oakland part of Pittsburgh (map). 

 

We have tried many different dishes and I can say they are all good.  Things you may want to try are the “Hot & Spicy Pot” and “Flaming Pan” dishes, but they are extra hot.  The restaurant is BYOB, so if you are celebrating a special occasion, you can go to the liquor store across the street and buy it there.

“Ka Mei” (map)

 

Ka Mei is a small restaurant on the southern end of Murray Ave.  They serve good and authentic Cantonese food, so if you miss Hong Kong, then you may want to visit this restaurant.  Years ago, they had a fantastic roasted duck dish that I loved deeply, but unfortunately it was discontinued.  The next time I go there, I will take a photo of the menu as it is not available online.

My wife loves the various steamed fish dishes, the cold chicken, and the congee and that’s why we keep going back there.  I have had many good dishes and never anything bad, but nothing particular sticks out to me.

#4 Walnut Street in Shadyside (map)

 

Walnut Street in Shadyside is known for its shopping, dining, and boutiques.  Especially the strip between S Aiken Ave and Ivy St, has back-to-back stores and restaurants.  When I was a student, Walnut St was on the top of my list for restaurants and bars and the same thing is true today.  Walnut St profits from its proximity to Oakland with its two large universities, CMU and Pitt, and lots of student housing in this general area. 

None of the restaurants here are in Pittsburgh’s top 10 list, but they serve good food for competitive prices and make this a good spot for a night out or for lunch while you are exploring this area.

#5 McKnight Rd (map)

 

McKnight Rd or route Truck 19 is a long road and busy place north of Pittsburgh and the speed limit here is 45mph.  This is not a place for walking or romantic dinners.  This street is open for business – any business.  Here you will likely find any business you can think of.  There are many chain restaurants, ethnic restaurants, Pittsburgh’s arguably best shopping mall (Ross Park Mall (map, reviews, website)), chain stores and privately owned stores, gas stations, car dealers, grocery stores, and…you name it.

The busiest section is between the Red Lobster (map) in the south to the Outback Steakhouse (map) in the north.

There are probably somewhere between 30 and 50 restaurants here.  Most of them are chain restaurants (sit down and fast food) and some are ethnic restaurants, mostly Mexican, Chinese, Japanese.

#6 Bloomfield (map)

 

Bloomfield is Pittsburgh’s Little Italy and you may not be surprised that it has good pizza restaurants. 

Parade in Bloomfield

What if I told you that Caliente Pizza & Draft House (map) makes the USA’s best pizza?  Caliente was honored with this title at the World Pizza Championship, in Parma, Italy.  And they have honors under their belt , or dough:

  • 2019: Best pizza in America – World pizza championship
  • 2018: Best non-traditional pizza – International pizza expo
  • 2016: Best pan pizza in the world – International pizza expo
  • 2015: Best bar in Pittsburgh - Thrillist

#7 South Side – E Carson Street (map)

 

Pittsburgh’s South Side is located across the Monongahela River from the Golden Triangle and between Station Square and the Birmingham Bridge, which connects the South Side to Oakland.  It is a major food, entertainment and nightlife area centered around E Carson Street.  Much of what is now the South Side was the city of Birmingham until it was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1872.  It was primarily settled by German then later Eastern European immigrants who worked in the heavy industry in downtown Pittsburgh.

 

Today, the South Side consists of the neighborhoods of “South Side Flats” and “South Side Slopes”.

In the Flats, East Carson Street is one of the largest Victorian main streets in the US and designated a historic district which comes with strict rules on how building facades are allowed to look like.  
The Flats are a success story of urban redevelopment.  Formerly the site of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company which in the 1980s, the land was redeveloped into mixed-use real estate and is now home to e.g. the SouthSide Works shopping and entertainment complex.

The South Side Slopes is the residential neighborhood directly to the south with many very steep streets.  Because some areas are extremely steep and narrow, special fire trucks are used to navigate the maze of narrow streets.  In some extremely steep areas, public staircases actually serve as walkways.

 

The South Side is becoming increasingly popular with students for housing and nightlife due to the easy access to Oakland and downtown.  The area is also attracting many tourists and nowadays E Carson Street is a vibrant area with many restaurants, bars, stores and entertainment.  Parking is often difficult to find, but public transportation is plentiful.

“Everyday Noodles” My personal favorite (map)

 

When you get there, chances are that you will have to wait as this restaurant is very popular for a good reason and that is that their food tastes fantastic.  They make their own noodles inside the restaurant and while you eat, you will see them string the noodle dough and hear them bang it on the table.

For most dishes, you will need to decide if you want “thin noodles” (like spaghetti) or “wide noodles” (like fettucine).  I prefer the wide noodles. 

Dishes they serve are all authentic Chinese and examples are dim sum dishes, steamed dumplings, dry noodles, noodle soups and rice dishes.  My personal favorites are the “Dan Dan Noodles” as appetizer, the “Braised Beef Noodle Soup” as main dish and the “Taro Milk Bubble Tea”.

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