Bucket List Worthy Flight Network Foodie
Once nicknamed ‘Smoky City’, due to its industrial history in iron and steel production, Pittsburgh has morphed into an exciting culinary destination. The beautiful parks, rivers, unique shopping and excellent dining are some of the reasons that it’s now consistently ranked among the nation’s most livable cities. It’s a great University town with so much to offer, the Arts and sports – This is the home of the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Steelers and the Penguins.
Bon Appetit named Pittsburgh the next big food town
The city has come a long way from its ‘meat-and-potatoes’ past, it’s now known for ‘farm-to-table’ eateries and trendy fusion places where fresh, local food and craft cocktails are all the rage. It has become a rising star in America’s culinary firmament and is drawing enthusiastic foodies, like moths to a flame echoed by Bon Appetit who named Pittsburgh the next big food town.
On my recent visit to the ‘burg’, and in need of a base, I stayed at the Fairmont Pittsburgh. It’s a fabulous hotel with topnotch service and great amenities – the best being its location, right in the heart of the vibrant business, theater and retail district. Visitors can slip back in time as they wander the lobby and halls and see the beautifully displayed artifacts that were unearthed during excavation prior to construction. The dining room, Habitat, has a locally sourced sustainable menu carefully curated under the direction of Vancouverite Executive Chef Jason Daling. The wine and cocktail list are splendid and my meal here was memorable.
In addition to Habitat, here are a few of my favourite places to eat:
This is a great place to eat, drink and socialize located on Braddock Avenue. They have an amazing beer cave featuring more than 1,000 craft microbrews, imports and domestics to choose from. I was drawn to this place to sample the best hotdogs in Pittsburgh. The menu is reasonably priced. Gourmet hotdogs are all the rage and these fit the bill nicely. Choose from a variety of toppings and eat these with your favourite beers. 1118 South Braddock Avenue (412) 241-4666, Regent Square.
Legume is a family-run restaurant located in the North Oakland neighborhood, one of Pittsburgh’s top restaurants – Chef Trevett Hopper changing and evolving menu promises (posted every day by 5:00 pm) interesting choices. Hopper is strong proponent of sustainable and locally sourced food in Pittsburgh this intimate restaurant may not have the glitz of some spots but its cool sleek interior is inviting. New Years Eve I sampled a few dishes from the prix-fixe menu. The grass fed steak with red wine reduction was delicious. The finishes of a medley of house made desserts were more than this diner could handle. I have yet to have a disappointing meal at this place. 214 N Craig St., 412.621.2700, Oakland.
A cozy bar adjoining Legume, it serves a more casual fare and excellent cocktails. The cocktails are creative with cool names like the Krakoa (sweet vermouth, spiced cherry cordial &Benedictine) and traditional staples like the Sazerac. The bar menu features perogies, burgers and small plates. I ordered the fancy burger of the day with came which came with topped with kimchee, onion rings and cheese. It’s the best burger I’ve tasted in a long while. 214 N Craig St., 412.621.2700, Oakland.
This is a family owned and operated artisan bakery located in Squirrel Hill/Point Breeze. They make the best European style bread, and produce high-quality pastries. The bread is beautiful, the coffee is splendid and the pastries exquisite. Biting into a flaky croissant, you are left with an explosion of mouthwatering flavours. 6520 Wilkins Avenue, 412-521-2253, Squirrel Hill/Point Breeze.
Just like the name says, this place is renowned for its ‘meat & potatoes’. I had an Asian steak salad — with an appetizer of shaved Brussels sprouts. I found the food appetizing but the cocktails were where the venue shines. They infuse their own vodka, gin and tequila for the Bloody Mary bar. Order the Comeback cocktail (belvedere, aperol, st. germain, lime, simple syrup, absinthe) you won’t be disappointed. A return visit is definitely needed. 649 Penn Ave, 412-325-7007, Downtown.
This is a new gourmet store located downtown in Market Square. They have excellent gourmet foods, dry goods, produce, fresh meat and seafood, baked goods and a variety of prepared hot and cold items. There’s a wine bar in the back, where you can grab a glass of wine to complement your lunch or do a taste sampling. I had a custom made sandwich, plus a side of chips for $8 dollars – It was simply delicious. They now serve brunch on Sat. and Sun. 435 Market Street, 412.281.3818
This farm to table restaurant located in Regent Square (across the street from D’s Six Pax) was the former home of Legume restaurant. Owner Chef, Keith Fuller, combines fresh vegetables and exotic spices to create incredible dishes. The menu changes often and always includes vegan options. What stands restaurant is Chef Fullers interesting flavor combinations and sauces that are incorporated into each dish. A must try is the Brussels sprouts side, which we devoured, with house-cured bacon and black-pepper jam. My entrée of Pork belly carbonara house made gnocchi, egg, cream, garlic, and shallot hit the spot nicely. Like most restaurants in Pittsburgh, creative cocktails are featured on the menu. 214 N Craig St., 412.621.2700, Regent Square.
For more information about Pittsburgh and all that it has to offer visit: www.visitpittsburgh.com.
Pittsburgh is reachable by most major airlines in the US & Canada. From Toronto, the driving distance is approximately 5.5 hours / 510KM. Porter Airlines from Toronto offers non-stop flights into Pittsburgh International Airport.