Note: Since this article was published, Casey Renee has left her position as Pastry Chef of The Whitfield—go at your own peril. Renee now operates CONFECTIONS.
Welcome to Richard Eaglespoon's mostly annual list of the best restaurants in some city. There's no set number of restaurants for each iteration of the list, and no tier of restaurant is off-limits. This year's list features Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hotly debated home of the wholy mediocre Klondike bar. Pittsburgh is also known for their Steelers-branded cupcake sheet cakes and once-cooked french fries in sandwiches.
5888 Forbes Ave
With three Szechuan restaurants in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood alone, you’re failing the Pittsburgh visit if you leave without having some Szechuan food. The scallion pancakes and cold noodle appetizer are must-try starters. Get the Chongqing dry hot chicken and the double cooked pork belly and share them family-style, and add on the cumin beef if you’ve got a large party and at least someone is a cumin fan. If you need vegetables, the golden corn fills that niche well.
Chongqing Dry Hot Chicken at How Lee. (Joe Rosenthal)
Gaby et Jules
5837 Forbes Ave
The macarons are up there with those from Ladurée, and there’s plenty of beautiful pastries from which you can choose, but be sure to grab a palmier (elephant ears) for the next morning.
Pittsburgh Food Fact “Pittsburgh has more pizzerias per capita than any other US city with exception to Orlando, Florida. Beware.”
Waffallonia in Schenley Plaza
4212 Forbes Ave
There’s a pretty good chance that your Liège waffle will be underdone inside, but if it’s not, it’ll be phenomenal. Go with the Bruges for a waffle topped with fresh strawberries and freshly whipped cream. You can also add a scoop of Nutella ice cream on top of any waffle, if that’s what you need, or you could just eat a scoop of Nutella ice cream—who’s judging?
Liège waffle at Waffallonia. This waffle was underdone, but it looked great. (Joe Rosenthal)
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
3616 Fifth Ave
Skip the tenders and go with the real deal fried chicken—you can thank me later.
Pittsburgh Food Fact “Among other things, Heinz Ketchup and Klondike bars were invented in the Pittsburgh area. Yum!”
Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream
232 S Highland Ave
Try Chad’s Vanilla. If you’re lactose intolerant, they’ve got something to help with that up front.
The Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh
120 S Whitfield St
Stay at the Ace Hotel when you visit Pittsburgh, and go out to eat somewhere else on this list; come back for dessert. Don’t go off script. There’s a reason why The Whitield’s Casey Renee is called one of the top pastry chefs in the country: her seasonally rotating chocolate cake is as good as it gets.
Pittsburgh Food Fact “Pittsburgh is not known for cheese steaks; that’s Philadelphia. And no, they’re not close together. Stop trying to order cheese steaks in Pittsburgh.”
4800 Second Ave
Bring five friends (minimum, reservation required) that want to do a Hungarian tasting menu of seemingly endless courses while sitting in what could pass as someone’s home. The food’s solid through and through, and you’ll more or less eat what gets put in front of you.
S&D Polish Deli
2204 Penn Ave
This polish delicatessen is your go-to place for farmer cheese pierogi and smoked kielbasy.