Blood orange chocolate cake from The Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh.
Photo: Joe Rosenthal

Where to Eat in Pittsburgh and Why

Some say it’s the worst food city in the United States. Others claim it’s not that bad. Here’s how to make the most out of a trip to the Steel City.

By Joe Rosenthal

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.

How Lee
Squirrel Hill
5888 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 422-1888
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.
Chongqing Dry Hot Chicken at How Lee.
Chongqing Dry Hot Chicken at How Lee.
Photo: Joe Rosenthal

Gaby et Jules
Squirrel Hill
5837 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 682-1966
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
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 521-4902
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.
Liège waffle at Waffallonia. This waffle was underdone, but it looked great.
Liège waffle at Waffallonia. This waffle was underdone, but it looked great.
Photo: Joe Rosenthal

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
3616 Fifth Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 687-0100
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
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 404-8853
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
East Liberty
120 S Whitfield St
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 626-3090
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.”

Jozsa Corner
4800 Second Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 422-1886
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
Strip District
2204 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(412) 281-2906
This polish delicatessen is your go-to place for farmer cheese pierogi and smoked kielbasy.

Next up in Clickbait Trash

This is not the olive plate at In Bloom, no—this is just a tribute.
Doom and Gloom at In Bloom
A review of the hearth-centric restaurant In Bloom at the Keg & Case Market in Saint Paul, to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

The Latest

Rodolphe Le Meunier Beurre de Baratte encapsulated by a <q>Big Marty's</q> roll and accompanied by Kosciusko delicatessen mustard.
The 2021 Gift Guide
Less is more.
A cross section of a seeded hoagie roll.
How to Hoagie Roll
And they say that a hoagie can save us—I’m not gonna stand here and wait.
An Open Letter to Scott Wiener of Scott’s Pizza Tours
On enabling problematic figures in food.
A New York-style pizza
How to Pizza
A New York-style pizza recipe with extraneous information
An American wagyu porterhouse steak from Snake River Farms.
How to Steak
It’s a steak recipe.
An artistic rendering of the International Pizza Consultant, Anthony Falco.
E Pluribus Falco
The controversial International Pizza Consultant, Anthony Falco, and his broken relationship with Roberta’s.