Pittsburgh Restaurant Apteka Is Beloved For Its Vegan Polish Eats

Visiting Apteka may not find you looking at meat items on your plate, but you won't be in want. The meat- and dairy-free menu delights regardless, with hearty platters that are sure to satisfy demanding pangs of hunger. The restaurant is the brainchild of Kate Lasky, whose family has lived in Pittsburgh for six generations, and Tomasz Skowronski, whose Polish parents made a home in Pittsburgh before he was born. The duo's culinary efforts have landed them on the finalist list for The James Beard Foundation 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards, and what started as a pierogi pop-up concept has evolved into a must-visit destination for vegans.

The menu at Apteka is separated into small plates and large plates, with an assortment of pickled items and salads served with bread to start meals before substantial orders of potatoes, celeriac schnitzel, and stuffed cabbage are brought to tables. The dishes are starchy, vegetable-filled, and served with bread that can keep you warm through cold winters. From boiled potatoes served with yogurt and lingonberry jam to borscht made with beets, the Eastern European-inspiredrecipes are homey and nourishing.

Experiencing a taste of Poland, vegan-style

The menu might be limited, but diners get their money's worth at Apteka: A plate of pierogi will ding wallets around $18, but seven crispy dumplings filled with sauerkraut and mushroom or greens and roasted parsnips are served warm and ready to tuck into. Open-faced sandwiches on multigrain bread are topped with colorful pâté, Polish salad, and apples and leeks. The plant-decorated dining room is equally bright, and team members wander through the establishment with burning sage.

To fully embrace the experience, drink options complement the food choices with house-made cordials and concoctions created with Gorki, olive fruit nectar, orange wine, dandelion, marigold, and pumpkin juice. An assortment of teas and juices are available for teetotalers, and Polish beers can be ordered by the bottle to add to the atmosphere of the space. During the week, Apteka sells bottles of wine, and employees help guests find blends to be uncorked while dining at the restaurant or to take home to enjoy. Of course, if you can't make it to Apteka, you can always whip up Polish egg salad at home or try your hand at making Polish potato dumplings for yourself. Light candles, place some greenery as a centerpiece, and create an ambiance that Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski might approve of.