Pittsburgh Restaurant Micro-reviews

Pete Su
Roger Rosner
Anukul Kapoor
Paul "Goob" Mazaitis
peterb
R Link

Latest update: 03-16-2013

This page lists restaurants that we know and either love or hate in Pittsburgh. The opinions here are our own, and try to be as honest and brief as possible. The listing is alphabetical. Ratings are:

Red Name: Stay away.

* A good place.

** A really good place.

For places where we disagree, the final rating is up to the judgement of the editor. Places marked with a (*) are second hand from people we mostly trust.



** 21st Street Coffee - 21st Street, Strip.

Pete: The Cortado here is perhaps the best espresso and milk drink in the city. A store for coffee geeks run by coffee geeks.

61C Cafe - Murray Ave, at the bus stop

Pete: Coffee isn't great, but the place is nice.

Roger: Too open for me--I don't want to hear the couple next to me fighting.

Anu: All scene, no bean.

peterb: Meh.

* Abay - Shady Ave. at Penn, near Whole Foods

Pete: Ethiopian food. They get points just for being there. This is not my personal thing, but people I trust like it.

Ali Baba - Oakland, Craig St.

Pete: Used to be the only middle eastern food around here. Now it's just one of several lame places.

Roger (*): My Israeli friend thinks it's lame, but it's my favorite Middle Eastern food. Yummy baba ganoush and sleek. Good with kids.

Anu: Tastes better if you're a student, otherwise keep it to lunch.

Paul: A bowl of the Syrian soup and a shared small plate of baba ganooj make for a reasonable lunch. The former is pretty good. The latter is variable, but never bad.

peterb: Try the Sleek. My biggest problem with this place is that even when no one is in it, it is tragically overcrowded and uncomfortable.

* Alla Famiglia - Allentown

Roger: Scary neighborhood, top notch Italian food, in a pleasant room with great service. Easy to spend $150 for a couple.

* Alma - Regent Square

Pete: Interesting Peruvian-tinged food. The idea of the food is better than the excecution, but still good. Nice "three-milk" cake.

Atria's - Wexford, North side, other places

Pete: Steaks, burgers, general american food, good service, great with kids.

Roger: A little too much like TGIF for me.

peterb: The beer is overpriced, and the food is "OK" but not memorable. It's a good place for work-related lunches, for some reason.

* Baba D's - Carson Street, South Side

rlink: Good Middle Eastern. Often tempted to just have the hummus, baba, grape leaves, tabbouleh, feta, and olives platter for dinner.

Bangkok Balcony - Squill, Forbes ave.

Pete: Reasonable Thai at reasonable price. But, now that Rose Tea is open there is no reason to go here.

Roger: We concur.

Anu (**): Try the mussaman curry or fried fish in chili sauce

** Bona Terra - Sharpsburg (Closed)

Pete: A good place for any city. Recommended.

Roger: Surprisingly high end for Pittsburgh. One of the city's few real restaurants, kind of like a real city would have.

Bossa Nova - 7th Avenue, Downtown

rlink: Competent food and tapas, good wine. Allows cigarette and cigar smoking, so the PA smoking ban means that no one under 21 is allowed inside, ever. Completely dead after happy hour. Charlie Batch drinks appletinis here.

Bravo - Everywhere

Pete: Mediocre pasta and such. Offensively expensive.

Roger: Just downright sucky.

peterb: It's a tasteless, soulless chain, but to make up for it, the prices are really high.

* BRGR - East Side, Near Whole Foods

Pete: The Spoon people do fancy burgers. Great toppings, so-so meat. Excellent fries. Winghearts is better. Burgatory has better meat and worse fries.

* Burgatory - Waterworks

Pete: Second best of the new fancy burger joints. Better meat than BRGR. Marginal fries.

** Cafe at the Frick (Clayton) - North of the Frick Museum

Pete: Great desserts, soup, sandwiches, lunch, sunday tea. Make reservations.

Roger: One of the best places in town. You can only make reservations if you're a member.

Note: The Chef here recently retired, I have not been back since and cannot say if things are different.

** Cafe Grand Canal - Sharpsburg

Pete: Excellent pasta, transcendent cannelloni with ground veal and bechemal.

* Cafe Du Jour - South Side

Pete: Interesting, decent food served by total flakes.

Anu: Great for lunch (sausage & brie sandwich!), usually good for dinner but potentially inconsistent. The outdoor garden is one of the better settings to eat.

Cafe Zinho - Shadyside

Pete: Seems interesting at first, until you realize it isn't. Extremely inconsistent.

Roger: Owned by the Baum Vivant charmers. Bad hotel food in a funky setting created by the previous owner (who actually had a personality). One of Pittsburgh's top restaurant critics described the owner in terms I will not repeat in decent company. Told you not to get me started.

* Casbah - In Shadyside on Highland Ave.

Pete: Reasonably good mediterranean-ish food. Too often more expensive than it is worth.

Roger: A reliably nice place to take company, if you don't mind the big ticket (big for Pittsburgh, anyway). Sunday brunch is good too.

Paul: All about the brunch for us, particularly during the warmer months in the "patio" area. They use actual yogurt on the granola.

rlink: Okay, but every single dish has one ingredient that really doesn't belong in it, overpowering everything else.

* Charina's - South Side

Anu: Good & not greasy -- Wonderful sleek.

** Chaya - Murray Ave, halfway down the hill.

Pete: Good Sushi and other Japanese food. Nice hot pots. Get the live scallop if they have it.

Roger: One of Pittsburgh's better sushi places.

Anu: Good sushi; be prepared to get scolded for your eating habits.

Cheesecake Factory - South Side

Pete: I don't understand these places. Why sit in a 2 hour line to get mediocre food and an oversized piece of cheesecake?

* Chiodo's - Homestead (Closed)

Pete: Great dive bar. Lots of beer. Try the Mystery Meat Sandwich, which is a great value.

Roger: Typical bar food but a great beer selection and a pleasant place to hang out.

peterb: I believe this place has closed, unfortunately. It wasn't good, but it was cheap.

* Christo's - Sixth Street

Pete: Good Greek food. Get the "Jackie O" cake.

The Church Brew Works - Liberty Ave

Pete: A beer place. I never found the food that great.

Roger: A fine brew pub. Poor acoustics is my only complaint.

Paul: A divided space between a high-rent bill of fare and pub food, plus a collection of decent beers. Loud. The pepperoni pizza is a surprising win, and all the desserts involve malt in some fashion.

rlink: The pizzas are okay, but the entrees try too hard and fall short. Now that Pittsburgh is no longer a beer wasteland, the brewpub aspect is less exciting.

* Clem's BBQ - Way east

Pete: Decent ribs. The pulled pork is OK, but doesn't taste like real southern barbequeue.

Coca Cafe - Lawrenceville

Pete: Where hip pre-gentrified Lawrencville neighborhood people go for mediocre breakfast.

peterb: I think the breakfasts here are pretty good, and there's a variety of options and OK coffee. There's a bit of a lack of yummy meat options, but the interesting omelettes and panini make up for it.

* Coffee Tree - Squill, Forbes Ave, other places

Pete: Brewed coffee is consistently excellent. Espresso is uneven. Good hot chocolate.

Roger: I don't drink coffee but the wife loves it.

Anu: Brewed coffee is excellent, great place for beans (espresso beans can rival La Prima).

* Colangelo's Bakery - Strip, next to La Prima

Pete: In Antonio's old space. Nice lunches, some of the same baked goods. The pizza isn't the same.

* Crepes Parisienne - Shadyside, Craig St.

Pete: OK crepes, but too pricey.

rlink: I'd rather go here than Paris 66, but only out of nostalgia for when it was a secret little place in a Shadyside basement that nobody new about.

** Cure - Upper Lawrenceville

Pete: Former Chef from Elements opens his own place. Probably the current best place in town for creativity and execution. Same great cured meats now combined with an excellent menu with an emphasis on meat. Also the second best chocolate dessert in town.

* D's Six Packs & Dogz - Regent Square

Anu: Not quite O quality, but great with Chili or Chicago style. Amazing beer bottle selection and great rotating features on draft. Good for a quick bite before an artsy movie.

Pete: Credible Chicago dog. Not crusty like I like them, and too much bun, but yummy. The fries are really good, really good. Actually better than the O fries.

peterb: I actually think I prefer D's to the O. A lot of that might be the atmosphere, and the superior selection of condiments.

** Dave and Andy's - Atwood St, Oakland

Pete: Really really really good local ice cream shop. Don't go anywhere else for cones. If I see you in a Cold Stone or something, I'll cut you.

Roger: Agree, but the room is coldly industrial at best.

* De Luca's - Strip

Pete: One of the better breakfast places in the city, but nowhere near great.

Roger: Yummy 2,000 kcal breakfasts.

peterb: It's a pit, but it's a pit with really good bacon. The coffee is substandard (and getting worse over time)

rlink:The people who line up for Pamela's have invaded. Still deliciously evil, but now there's a wait.

** Dinette - Shadyside, near Whole Foods

Pete: The pizza is super, but the real joy here is salads and starters. But don't miss the pizzas with pancetta and eggs. Second or third best place in town now.

rlink: Great pizzas, small but decent wine selection. As a friend so eloquently put it, "Lit like the surface of the [expletive] Sun." My retinas will just have to suffer.

** Dish - 17th Street, South Side

Pete: A surreal zone of uber-hipness in the middle of the South Side. Great appetizers and mediterranean/Italian pasta, meat and seafood dishes. Really good, maybe my favorite in the city. They take credit cards now.

Anu: Great but small space, great but small menu with consistently good specials (2-3/night), fun staff.

Double-Wide Grille - 24th and Carson, South Side

Pete: This place is awful. It started out just mediocre and it got worse every time I went back. Avoid except maybe for the booze.

rlink: Everyone raves about the food, but I can't see why. I've never had a good meal here. Good selection of beers on draught, and a HUGE patio. The servers get cranky if you sit outside and don't order food, but I've never seen the same one twice, so I don't care.

* E2 - Bryant Street, Highland Park

rlink: Saturday/Sunday breakfast and brunch only, owned by Enrico Biscotti. Ever-changing menu of locally-sourced foods, from the rich to the rustic, sweet to the savoury. Get the Tony-Bag-o'-Donuts (sourdough ginger donuts).

* Eat 'n Park - Everywhere

Pete: Almost always open. Great with kids.

Roger: How can you review Eat 'n Park in this city? It's part of the "culture." McDonald's with servers. I hate it.

Eat Unique - Craig Street

Pete: Used to be Craig Street coffee. Never order anything they don't already have made. One of the least effective service schemes ever devised for a restaurant lives here.

** Eleven - Smallman Street, Strip District

Pete: The first time I went I got bad fish. But since then it has been uniformly excellent. Bar menu has a remarkably good lobster roll. Go get it.

rlink: It is impossible to have a bad meal here. Expensive, but oh so worth it.

* Enrico Biscotti - 20th St. and Penn, Strip and Shadyside.

Pete: Great biscotti, cookies, and other delights. The cafe in the back, which was one of the best food places to ever exist in Pittsburgh is now open only on weekends.

Roger: Two of my favoriate places in the city. Top notch.

Anu: I'll miss the chaos of eating lunch in the Strip.

peterb: The place in Shadyside is exactly as bad as the place in the strip was good. The food is almost the same, but the atmosphere is all wrong.

* Enrico's Tazzo D'Oro - Shadyside

Pete: Not at all related to the other Enrico's. Good coffee, funky place. New outpost at CMU is also good.

Anu: Good coffee, decent lunch fare, great place to read the sunday paper.

** Espresso a Mano - Butler Street in Lawrenceville

Pete: Best cappuccino in the city. Matt the owner was the best guy La Prima had for years. Now he is on his own. Go here instead.

** Everyday Noodles - Forbes Ave, Squirrel Hill

Pete: A true first in Pittsburgh. Truly excellent and authentic hand-pulled noodles in a variety of soups, not to mention Shanghai soup dumplings and other authentic Chinese treats. Joins How Lee and Rose Tea as the Chinese food triumvirate in town. Do not go anywhere else. Ever.

* Fat Heads - South Side, Carson and 18th or 19th.

Pete: Good wings, lots of beer, huge sandwiches that don't suck much. Very loud.

Anu: Great bar food with great beer; the beasty barbecue sauce is perfection.

peterb: Their wings have declined in quality dramatically over the past few years. Stick to the sandwiches.

rlink: If you miss the wings, get the Voodoo Killer Burger, but don't tell your intestines that it was my idea.

* Frankfurters - Lincoln Ave. in Bellevue

Pete: Great hot dogs. I like the O better.

peterb: They have birch beer, and good hot dogs. Not quite as great as D's.

* Fukuda - Liberty Ave. in Bloomfield

Pete: Small sushi joint with high standards. Also pretty good ramen. Part of a new generation of young hipster joints.

rlink: Small. Hipster. But god DAMN can they make tasty food. Get the fish head.

* Girasole (*) - Shadyside

Contributed: Good Italian, nice atmosphere, excellent ravioli and tiramisu. Smallish. LOUD.

Roger: Nice place that seriously needs some acoustic tiling. Competent food, good service.

Paul: The trick to eating here is getting a table on the patio when the weather is nice; considerably less noisy. We've never had a bad meal.

* Green Forest - 655 Rodi Rd.

Pete: My friend Alex says, "If you are thinking 'Meat, meat. I need more meat. Where is the damn meat?' this is a pretty good place." The cold bar is more than tolerable, too.

Roger: Did Pete mention the meat? Atkins heaven. Not half bad.

Grille on Seventh - 7th Avenue, Downtown

rlink: When the waiter takes your nearly-untouched plate that you've pushed aside without asking what was wrong, and then openly scrapes it into the trash, you know they just don't care. Likely survives on its proximity to the Benedum, Byham, and Heinz Hall.

Gullifty's - Murray Ave

Pete: AVOID. Used to be an OK place for desserts (the killer cookie was awesome). Now there is no reason to go.

Gypsy Cafe - Bingham Street, Southside

rlink: Wide selection of okay dishes from all over the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. As a Hungarian, I am offended by what they call gulyás.

** Il Piccolo Forno - 21st and Penn, Strip.

Pete: Antonio's Italian bakery. Great pastas and salads for lunch. Stupendous breads, cakes, and pastry. Also the best pizza in town.

Note: This place closed but has reopened under new management. See the entry for Colangelos.

* Il Pizzaiolo - Mt. Leb

Pete: Brick oven Napoli-style pizza and fancy pasta plates. Pizza still isn't quite my thing, but the pasta dishes are now most excellent. My previous recommendation to just go to RM doesn't work anymore, since RM is closed. Caruso's is also essentially dead. So there you go.

Anu : Swanky authentic pizza in Mt. Lebanon; not quite RM but very good.

* Ka Mei Cantonese Food - Murray Ave, across from Jerry's

Pete: This is the reincarnation of Tasty. Same people, same excellent Cantonese. It's just in Squirrel Hill instead of Shadyside. Giving it an extra bullet because I missed it.

* Kaya - Strip

Pete: Sometimes it's great, sometimes it sucks.

Roger: I agree about the inconsistency, but I like it a lot. Another competent Big Burrito restaurant.

rlink: Consistency has improved a lot. Haven't had a bad meal here in ages.

* Kassab's - South Side

Pete: Good middle eastern food. My Israeli friend says it's the best Middle Eastern place in town. Recently moved to new, much cleaner, location.

Anu: Good and greasy. Good sleek.

** Klavon's - Penn Ave, Strip.

Pete: Transcendent milkshakes. Neat old drug store soda fountain.

Roger: My favoriate ice cream place in the city.

** La Cucina Flegrea - Market Square

Pete: Recently moved downtown. Have not been by the try it. Back in the day this was the best Italian in Pittsburgh.

Roger: Windowless but yummy.

* La Feria - Walnut St.

Pete: Good but a bit boring. Up very many steps.

Roger: Limited selection but reliably tasty Peruvian food.

Paul: Never any reason not to get the sweet potato chips as an appetizer, and no point in ordering off of anything but the specials board. Often have interesting cold soups in the warmer months.

* La Prima Espresso - 21st and Penn, Strip

Pete: Always my long time favorite, but I think 21st Street Coffee and former employee "Matt"'s Espresso a Mano are have now surpassed it. Still like their beans though (updated for 2010).

* La Strada (*) - Downtown

Contributed: "Happening" place for high-powered business meals. Great lunch buffet.

* Las Palmas - Brookline

Pete: Mexican grocery store and meat counter. Also the best Taco truck in Pittsburgh. Get the lomo tacos.

* Leena's - Oakland Ave. (Closed)

Pete: Good Falafel. This is run by the guy that used to have the blue truck called Leena's. Same good Falafel.

Roger: Authentically yummy.

This place is where Swagath used to be.

* Legends of the North Shore (*) - North Side

Contributed: Relaxed mostly-Italian food. Good soup, nice lunch menu.

peterb: This place is reliably very good. I wouldn't necessarily make a special trip (as I would for Cucina Flegrea), but it's probably your best option for good food in the North Shore, and serves better Italian than most of the Bloomfield places.

** Legume - North Craig Street

Pete: My favorite place in town. Excellent French-inspired food with a homey Pittsburgh touch to it. Get the cassoulet if they have it. Best chocolate dessert in town.

rlink: I don't get here often enough. Waiting until 5PM to post the daily menu makes deciding when to go a pain, but the food is worth it.

The Library - Carson Street, South Side

rlink: Greasy apps, oversauced pastas, grilled fat sandwiches. The rooftop deck is okay for drinks in nice weather, as long as you don't mind waiting forever for the next round.

* Lidia's - Strip

Pete: Good Italian.

* Mama Lena's - McKee's Rocks

Paul: Good local pizza joint. Get the Sicilian pie.

* Mad Mex - Oakland, North Hills, Mt. Leb

Pete: Enjoyable faux-Mex. Lots of beer and drinks. Loud.

Roger: Best Mexican-ish food in Pittsburgh. Oakland place is so loud I won't go there.

Anu: great wings.

rlink: The suburban locations are terrible. Suck it up and go to Oakland.

* Meat And Potatoes - Penn Ave, Downtown

Pete: Meaty bar food downtown. I find the starters and the mains good, but the in betweens always make me sad. Get he bone marrow.

* Milky Way - Murray Ave

Pete: Vegetarian and Kosher. Good pizza and falafel.

Roger: A welcome alternative in the Murray Ave area.

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto - Mount Washington

Pete: Good fish and such. Nice view.

Roger: Silly name and equally silly decor, but one of the best seafood places in town. Awesome view. The bar is good too.

Paul: One of the best meals I've ever had, sitting in the ghetto in back facing west, watching a storm roll in. They don't overcook the fish.

My Thai - Shadyside, 2nd floor, corner of Walnut and Aiken

Pete: Generic boring Thai food in Shadyside. Used to be better. Removing the bullet.

Roger: There are two Thai places in Shadyside. This is the better one by far. Service is very efficient and friendly.

Paul: Very, very nice. The crispy duck is great. Ask for the condiment dish.

Nakama - Carson and 17th

Roger: The cheesy Benihana schtick lives! Nakama is to Japanese cuisine as P.F. Chang's is to Chinese. Utterly lacking in subtlety and grace. Was that butter you just slathered on my over-grilled shrimp? On the other hand, the kid loved the goofy chef show.

rlink: Better sushi than available elsewhere on the South Side, but that's not saying much. The servers always manage to screw up one item per person.

New Dumpling House - Murray Ave

Pete: Chinese and sushi. Stay away.

Roger: The place exudes scary, but I've had okay sushi there.

** New How Lee - Murray Ave

Pete: Though it has the same name and location, this version of NEW HOW LEE now has a super Szechuan menu that will melt your face. You must go.

* Noodlehead - Highland Ave, Shadyside

Pete: Yet another new noodle joint. That makes four this year. Eclectic blend of different street food style noodles. Good snack sizes.

Olive Garden - Everywhere

Pete: The Olive Garden is a great evil that stains our very existence and threatens everything good that we believe in.

Orient Kitchen - Oakland, Baum Blvd.

Pete: OK general Chinese. Not as good as other favorites. Have not been there in a while.

** Original Fish Market - Downtown

Pete: Good fish and sushi. Open late.

Roger: Good food, good service.

Anu: Fish Market: non-sushi quality has been inconsistent lately; many mediocre entrees hiding in the menu. Get sushi or something simple (hong kong style fish).

* Original Hot Dog Shop ("The O") - Oakland, CMU

Pete: Transcendent hot dogs. More fries than a human can consume. Dirty, greasy, possibly dangerous.

Roger: An institution. A frightening institution.

Outback Steakhouse - North Side, McCandless, others

Pete: Chain "Australian-themed" steakhouse. Good burgers & ribs.

Packs & Dogs - Shiloh Street, Mt. Washington

rlink: Mt. Trashington's answer to D's Six-Packs & Dogz. Much smaller bottle selection than D's. Dogs are kept warm in a steam table and reheated in the deep fryer. Soggy fries.

Pamela's - Oakland, Squill

Pete: I don't understand why people like this place. Greasy, thin, practically deep fried pancakes, nothing else that great.

Roger: I concur. Gross.

Paul: My body can no longer handle the grease.

peterb: Everyone who stands on line to get in here on Saturday morning is going to Hell.

* Paris 66 - Centre Avenue, East Liberty

Pete: Excellent crepes and other small scale French bistro food. Clocks are set to Paris time.

rlink: Better than Crepes Parisienne, with a subtle undertone of haughtiness. Technically in East Liberty, but claims to be in Shadyside.

** Park Brugge - Point Breeze

Pete: Everything that's good about Point Brugge plus a better floorplan and poutine. Go.

** Penn Avenue Fish Company - Penn Avenue, Strip

Pete: The best fish store and restaurant in town. If I see you anywhere else I'll cut you. They serve great soup, good sushi and the occasional raw bar items (oysters, etc) that are better for breakfast than they have any right to be.

* Penn Brewery - North Side

Pete: German-themed brew pub with good beer and mostly okay food. Home of Penn Pilsner, Penn Dark, etc, etc.

Roger: Inconsistent food, sometimes dead cold. Beer is yummy.

Paul: The food is variable, but usually reasonable; they can be forgiven much for their beer. Go in March and get a pull of the Martzen.

* People's Indian - Bloomfield

Paul: Pretty good Indian,, somewhat standard menu. They are not afraid to make the food spicy.

** Pierogies Plus - Mckee's Rocks

Pete: Hand made Pierogies. Awesome.

Anu: Eat them there, dripping with butter.

P. F. Chang's - Waterfront

Pete: Offensively bad Chinese. I have further thoughts on this.

Roger: I agree with Pete except that it's not Chinese.

Paul: Favorite house flavoring ingredient seems to be propane. Hideous.

** Piccolo Forno - Butler St, Lawrenceville

Pete: Took over the old Regina Margherita store. Salads, wood fired pizza and Carla's homemade pastas. Easily some of the best Italian food anywhere. Run by the same people who brought you Il Piccolo Forno in the strip.

Piper's Pub - SouthSide

Pete: I don't think this place is quite the same. I'm not feeling it anymore.

Anu: High quality brit-pub food with a good selection of beer and whiskey; They graciously handle big groups.

rlink: They've gotten rid of Old Speckled Hen on draught and the steak and kidney pie, but I enjoy the place.

** Pittsburgh Deli Company (*) - Copeland Ave, Shadyside

Contributed: High-quality deli food. Great vegetarian offerings. Wide beer selection.

Roger: Surprisingly good deli.

** Point Brugge - Point Breeze

Pete: Excellent fries and decent versions of various Belgian standards. Good mussels when they are in season.

rlink: There is no reason to get anything other than mussels and frites, unless you are lucky enough to get in for Sunday brunch, which is when you should have the waffles.

* Primanti Brothers - Strip, Oakland.

Pete: Those wierd-ass sandwiches with fries and slaw on them. Sublime in their own twisted way.

Roger: Sick making.

Paul: Somewhat addicting high-test piles of sandwich. They'll yell at you in the Strip if you order it wrong.

rlink: Death by corned beef or by capicola? If only all decisions were this delicious.

peterb: The great secret of Primanti's is to go there in the morning and get a bacon-and-egg sandwich (or, if you're eating there, just a bacon and egg plate). It's a yummy (if deadly) breakfast.

Redbeard's Mountain Resort and Yacht Club - Corner of Shiloh and Sycamore, Mt. Washington

rlink: The name is a total joke. Yinzer sports-y bar. Greasy pub food. Sadly, it's probably the least awful restaurant at that end of Mt. Washington.

** Roberto's Pizzaria - Bellevue

This place is closed. Roberto has apparently moved to NJ.

Ritter's Diner - Baum Boulevard, Bloomfield

Pete: I don't get it.

rlink: It's nicknamed "Critters" for a reason.

** Rose Tea Cafe - Forbes Ave near Shady in Squill

Pete: Forget the bubble tea, get the homey Taiwanese peasant food. This is my favorite current Chinese food in the city limits. It's good enough to go to even if you just spent time in a city with a real Chinatown.

* Rose Tea Express - Craig St. near CMU

Pete: ROSE TEA NEAR CMU. There will be students sleeping on the sidewalk outsidet his place.

* Seviche - Penn Avenue, Downtown

rlink: Small portions, but good ceviche. Nice selection of wines that pair well with menu. Crowded for happy hour and weekend nights with the kind of people who go places just to be seen.

The Sharp Edge

peterb: Excellent Belgian beer at reasonable prices, and good bar food. This place used to serve vaguely OK food that was incredibly overpriced, but now they serve definitely OK food that is priced about right. If you haven't been here in a while, go back.

Pete: I trust peterb about the beer, but I have not had good food at this place, and it always seemed too expensive.

* Smiling Banana Leaf - Bryant Street, Highland Park

Pete: I have been once. I liked it.

rlink: Good Thai, unbelievably tiny place, takeout is sorely lacking in presentation but just as tasty.

** Smoke - Homestead

Pete: Tacos, with BBQ. That is all you need to know.

* Sonoma Grille - Penn Avenue, Downtown

rlink: If you want good, expensive, West Coast grille-style food, this is it. Absolutely massive wine list.

South Side Steaks - South Side

Pete: The grill guy gave me the finger for snapping a photo. Then we got two sandwiches which were all wiz and no steak.

Anu (*): What was inconsistent, is now usually great: "Original Wit Wiz". Stay away from the fries.

* Soba - Shadyside

Pete: Been back recently. It was better than I remember it. Still, the rice was sub-par.

Anu: A great space with great fusion pan-asian food; if that concept doesn't offend you, you'll love it.

Spice Island Tea House- Oakland.

Pete: This place used to be stupendous. Now it is not.

Roger: I can't remember when it was stupendous. Very greasy.

** Spoon - East side, near Whole Foods

Pete: Yet another single word restaurant that's excellent. Fancy food with various influences. Fancy bar too.

Square Cafe - Braddock Ave, Regent Square

Pete: OK but not great breakfast and lunch. No nonsense. Great with kids.

* Stagioni - East Carson St. South Side.

Pete: Good Italian food. Great fresh mozz. appetizer. Sometimes too big.

Sushi Too - Shadyside

Pete: Warm sushi on bad rice. Never liked it. Note, the South Side location has opened under a different name recently.

Roger (*): Friendly, reliable. My default "let's do sushi" place. Not as yummy as Umi and Chaya, but cheaper and far easier to get into.

Anu: The sushi is almost always nasty; stick to Shadyside location. Haven't tried the korean.

peterb: There are atmosphere differences between the two locations. The people at the South Side location are nice and friendly and make you feel welcome. The people at the Shadyside location hate you, and want you to die.

* Taj Mahal - McKnight Road, North Hills

Pete: Nice North Indian. A good way to change things up if you go to Udipi or Tamarind too much.

rlink: Surprisingly good Indian for being located in the middle of what is arguably the Longest Strip Mall On Earth.

* Tamari - Lawrenceville, Warrendale

Pete: Asian/Latin fusion. Really! Lobster "sushi" roll is to die for. Big bar. They are heros for opening in the North Hills as well. By far the best place to eat up there.

* Tamarind - South Hills

Pete: Great Indian food. There are a few of these now in various locations. The South Hills one is the best for the creative lunch buffet (really!). They make these lentil fritters (vada) that are to die for.

* Tan lac Vien Vietnamese Bistro - Murray Ave, Squill.

Pete: Good Pho with a rich tasty broth. Go here instead of Tram's.

* Taqueria Mi Mexico - Murray Ave, Squill (Closed)

Pete: Great tacos and tortas. Other interesting Mexican dishes. Insanely cheap. Go now. A second nice Mexican place to go along with Taco Loco.

peterb: I love this place. Although not on the menu, the soups (consomme, menudo) are great, when they have them.

* Tessaro's - Bloomfield, Liberty Ave

Pete: Local bar. Stupendous burgers. Probably the best in the city. Can be slow.

Roger: Good burgers but pretty everything else is mediocre.

Paul: The burgers are all. If you ask for a rare burger, they will actually serve one. Great tin ceilings.

* Toast! - Baum Blvd.

Pete: Great wine bar, small plates and various foods with a style of their own. Certainly in the starting five of great places in Pittsburgh with a single word name.

Tonic - Downtown

Pete: Nice bar with a mix of creative small and large dishes.

* Tram's - Bloomfield

Pete: Good Vietnamese food. Noodle bowls, some "special dishes". I have never found the Pho here special.

Roger: Atmospherically scary, not for the faint of heart, which for me is a bonus on top of the good food.

Paul: Great pho, great spring rolls, great table coverings.

peterb: I love this place. There's not a lot of options vis-a-vis the pho (no tripe, for example), but the broth is superb.

** Udipi Cafe - Old Willima Penn highway, Monroeville

Pete: Probably won't get better Indian near here. Lots of traffic from the Temple. Good Dosa.

Paul: Utensils strictly optional. Get the Paper Masala Dosai for a meal that verges on the architectural.

peterb: I second Paul's recommendation of the paper masala dosai. They have a lot on the menu, but I can never find a reason to get anything other than the superb dosai.

** Umi - Shadyside, Ellsworth

Pete: High end Japanese. Very expensive, very good. Unclear if it's worth it. The fixed price tasting menu (Omakase) is nice.

Roger: My favoriate sushi, mostly because of atmosphere.

* Uncle Sam's - Oakland, Squirrel Hill, others

Pete: Good cheesesteaks. Some gripe about the bread and/or the fries. The one in Oakland is better.

Roger: Hate.

peterb:Every time I eat here I feel vaguely ill. When I want a cheesesteak I go to Charlie's instead. I'm told this is some sort of political question.

* Vendetta Dolci (*) - South Side

Contributed: Italian/Mediterranean place started by the former pastry chef from Abruzzi. High-end food at middle-of-the-road prices, never a long wait for a table. Great desserts.

** Vivo (closed) - 565 Lincoln Ave. in Bellevue.

Pete: Landmark place in the late 90s and early 2000s. Now closed and replaced by something else that is not as good. Apparently has moved to Sewickley, but I have not been there.

* WingHearts - Market Square

Pete: The best of the new non-Tessaro's fancy burger joints. I hear the bar is good too.

* Yo Rita - Carson Street, Southside

Pete: Foofy tacos, a bit uneven overall, some interesting ideas but I wish they had corn tortillas.

rlink: Really good oddball tacos. Softshell crab, sweetbreads, lamb, duck, rocky mountain oysters, bánh mì. Loses a star for the surly owner who sits at the bar and stares at patrons.

Zarra's - Bigelow Boulevard, North Oakland

rlink: Hearty traditional Southern Italian. Good homemade sausage. The dining room is distractingly packed with kitchy antiques.

* Zaw's - Murray Ave, down the hill.

Pete: Good Asian takeout in Squirell Hill.

Roger: On the oily side, but tasty.

peterb: The only reason to go here is if you are too poor to afford Rose Tea.

rlink: The only "Chinese" place where I will stoop to ordering General Tso's. It's that good. I don't know what anything else on the menu tastes like.


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