20 Restaurants In Pittsburgh You Should Know, According To A PA Local

It's been dubbed Zagat's No. 1 rated U.S. city for those of us who like to eat out. But where exactly do you find the buzziest fare in Steel City? From award-winning vegan pierogi, to homestyle Thai, sourdough wood-fired pizza, and a legendary sandwich, I've got you covered. In southwestern Pennsylvania, where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers meet, local chefs have been raising the bar (even literal ones with cocktails) since 2013. The culinary scene is one of the hottest in the country.

I'm PA born and raised, so I'm familiar with the favorite flavors and foods of the state. Whether you're in the mood for intimate drinks with a view, popular pop-ups gone brick-and-mortar, or family-style Sichuan that seemingly never ends (it's cool, that restaurant's got to-go boxes), Pittsburgh is the city to devour, one tasty bite at a time. Rather than debate the origins of Pittsburgh's french fry-topped salad, let's get some fries in our belly and dive into the city's finest.

Best vegan: Apteka

Beloved for its vegan Polish eats, Apteka's specialty zakąski pickle plate and fried smażone pierogi turned heads at The New York Times, which named it one of its top 50 favorite restaurants in 2022. That's thanks to 2024 James Beard Awards semifinalists for best chef, Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, who started out as a pierogi pop-up, outliving most other vegan outposts in the city.

You don't even need to be Polish to feel like you're eating the comforting dishes of your motherland. Slice into celeriac schnitzel or fried buckwheat and potato dumplings, and forget animal protein even exists. Apteka serves dinner Friday to Sunday and runs its natural wine bottle shop (no food) those days, plus on Wednesday and Thursday, 12 to 7 p.m.

Vegan Central and Eastern European cuisine


(412) 251-0189

4606 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Best Thai: Pusadee's Garden

Good luck getting a reservation at Pusadee's Garden since chef Bootsaba Tongdee became a 2024 James Beard best chef semifinalist. But if you happen to snag a table at dinnertime, lean into the lemongrass life.

Bootsaba's mom, Pusadee Tongdee (now in her 80s), still cooks the curries for the restaurant every day. Taste her homemade touch with your first bite of spicy chicken and kabocha squash jungle curry or slow cooked pork belly hung lay. It's not the only Thai gig in town, but it's certainly the classiest. If you get lost in the luscious garden landscape, hey — you're first in line for tomorrow.

Thai cuisine and cocktails


(412) 252-2683

5319 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Best sushi: Gi-Jin

From the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, responsible for modernizing much of the Pittsburgh food scene since 2011, comes Gi-Jin — elevating downtown hand rolls since 2021. Its stellar gin collection gets a lot of press, but the whiskey and sake bench goes just as deep.

With an interior decked out in rib cage-like wooden panels, you'll feel like you're tucked into your own little bento box, floating in the belly of a whale. While you're there, don't miss standouts like the hamachi crudo and the beef tataki with a golden, sunny side up egg. If you enjoy its matcha-misu spin on classic tiramisu, send a little "kitchen love" (a $10 add-on to your check) to the back of house staff. Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner.

Japanese sushi, hand rolls, and gin


(412) 332-6939

208 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Best views: Altius

Feast your eyes upon the view from the top of the world at Altius on Mt. Washington. (The reserve cuvée is only out-sparkled by the glimmering city lights above the Fort Pitt Bridge.)

Having earned Four Diamond status from AAA, the eatery's top-shelf craft cocktails fall right in line with its stellar dinner service. Chef Jessica Bauer sources prime proteins, so look for local chicken from Footprints Farm and seasonal entrees like wild mushroom polenta. You'll also have the friendly staff on hand to celebrate everything here, from intimate engagements to wedding receptions. Closed on Sundays, reserved seatings otherwise run at dinnertime, with a chance of cocktails by the fireplace.

Elevated contemporary American


(412) 904-4442

1230 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Best Nordic: Fet-Fisk

Swedish for "greasy fish", the brick-and-mortar version of Fet-Fisk comes to life in Bloomfield after its wildly successful multi-city pop-up version. Co-owner and executive chef Nik Forsberg was even a 2023 best chef semifinalist for the James Beard Awards.

Original Fet-Fisk pop-ups featured an assortment of Scandinavian treats like steak tartare with horseradish and potato chips, the decidedly retro Waldorf salad with proper Roquefort cheese, and the anchovy and potato gratin number Jansson's Temptation (a crowd favorite). With the full-service outpost having gotten its sea legs in March 2024, we'd jump on those dinner rezzies asap. This is greasy fish that everyone's dying to taste. Open Thursday to Monday for dinner.

Nordic ocean cuisine


4786 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Best Sichuan: Chengdu Gourmet

Come for the cumin lamb, stay for the family-style eatin'. You'll be welcomed into Chengdu Gourmet with an enormous American-Chinese menu and a traditional Sichuan one. A little rusty on your Mandarin? Don't worry, you're in good hands. Chef and owner Wei Zhu was a James Beard semifinalist for best chef in 2022. And he's more than happy to share the dishes of his native Chengdu, China (or help you pick a well-rounded bounty of favorites).

The Chengdu-style kung pao chicken is refreshingly not as sweet as you usually find it. Hit up the Sichuan menu for the dan dan noodles with minced pork. And yes, this restaurant does pan-fried dumplings, so you can taste the world without stepping too far out of your comfort zone. Oh, and it's BYOB — so stop by Fine Wine & Good Spirits on Murray Ave for a light IPA to complement those Sichuan spices.



(412) 521-2088

5840 Forward Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Best lamb: 40 North Bar & Restaurant

Holla if you love lamb, from its nose to its tail. Alphabet City's 40 North (40 North also happens to be the location's latitude line) is tucked inside The City of Asylum, dedicated to protecting artists and creativity. No better place for two-time James Beard best chef semifinalist Beth Zozula to set up shop and go hog (or lamb) wild.

Around here, the lamb's on lock, with the restaurant butchering two animals each week and utilizing every last bit. (See: Turkish lamb's head and ankle soup or grilled lamb's heart.) There's plenty of pomegranate molasses falafel, pan-fried rainbow trout, and grass-fed New York strip steak for the rest of us. Happy hour is Wednesday through Saturday, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Lamb and fresh produce-focused cuisine


(412) 435-1111

40 W North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Best Mediterranean: Pitaland

Welcome to Pitaland, where piping hot ovens crank out 1,800 pita loaves every hour. Not enough pita? Trust us, there's more. Launching in 1990, from the long established Chahine's Bakery, Pitaland's Chahine family serves up old-world Lebanese favorites, dressed up for modern eaters. 

Grab a seat in The Cafe and dig into a spinach and feta pita pie, beef shawarma sandwich, or lamb burger. Don't skip the baba ghannouj (surprise, it comes with pita), or miss the kibbee footballs stuffed with minced beef and pine nuts — and fried into pure, crispy gold. Once you've done all the damage you can on the main menu, head on over to the Market to snap up a few pantry staples for the road. (Get there before noon to catch the pita factory line rockin' and rollin'.)



(412) 531-5040

620 Brookline Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15226

Best Italian: DiAnoia's Eatery

If you're a Pittsburgh local, there's a serious chance you've shelled out for a piping hot plate of velvety cacio e pepe at DiAnoia's Eatery in the Strip District. From a zeppole for breakfast, to a caprese panzanella salad (with house-made bread) as a midday bite, the comfy Italian kitchen's got your number from crack-of-dawn espresso to after-dinner limoncello.

A regular favorite of local best lists, DiAnoia's brings the fresh flavors of Bel Paese (Italy's nickname, meaning "beautiful country") to the Steel City crowd. Having sparked the sister restaurants Pizzeria Davide and takeout favorite Pane è Pronto, the OG is known for its homemade breads, pastas, and pastries. Lucky for those of us not doing gluten, most pasta dishes can be made gluten free, too. 

Homemade Italian


(412) 918-1875

2549 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Best seafood: The Original Oyster House

There was a time when this over 150-year-old restaurant dished up 1-cent oysters and pints for a dime. That time was in the late 1800s, but our money's still on the lowkey tavern-style fare at the Original Oyster House any day of the week. (Yes, these oysters are available year-round.)

Well-positioned in downtown Pittsburgh's Market Square, the city's oldest bar and restaurant serves breaded and fried seafood like it's going out of style. But it isn't. And neither is the garlicky baked scrod, the oyster sandwich with Italian breadcrumbs, or the decadent beer-battered Cod Father. A lesser institution could never list chicken tenders and fries under "specials" while also slinging standout Maryland crab cakes for around $12 — and survive. This OG does. Open till 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Atlantic seafood


(412) 566-7925

20 Market Sq, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Best live music: Con Alma Restaurant and Jazz Bar

A former Shadyside night spot, Con Alma Restaurant and Jazz Bar has been spicing up the Cultural District since 2021. Love live jazz? Come and hear it seven nights a week. What better way to honor the town that's credited for inventing bebop than with a plate of Cuban roasted pork and a Banhez mezcal Backstage Sally.

Beloved Steel City artists mix it up with international touring acts on the intimate Con Alma stage, where only a legend could tickle the ivories and add to the vibrant flair of the place. If dining during live acts, you'll see an extra $10 charge per person on your check; mere pennies to pay for an evening you won't forget. No wonder Esquire once named it one of the best bars in America.

Globally inspired cuisine


(412) 932-2387

613 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Best brunch: Sally Ann's

If we're gonna haul our Sunday funday butts out of bed and put on actual pants, the brunch better be on point. At Sally Ann's, where nostalgia comes easy thanks to chef and owner Richard DeShantz, you'll feel like a kid again. Except you won't mind the crust on the French toast.

Throw it back with the best-selling Monongahela breakfast coffee and rye cocktail or the Froot Loops cereal latte. Ricotta toast, hot chicken and waffles, and fresh pastries start the day off, with chicken parm hoagies, burgers, and Reubens rounding out the lunch bunch. Closed Monday and Tuesday, breakfast is served until 3 p.m. Evening hours begin in May 2024.

Classic American brunch


(412) 338-1876

136 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Best date night: Bridges & Bourbon

Meet-cute or 20-years-into-relationship bliss, the best date night is an interactive experience together. Bonus points if it's over cocktails at the sexiest spot in downtown Pittsburgh, Bridges & Bourbon. (Complementary bridges over the Allegheny River serve to accent your Bridges Smash bourbon and poached pear cocktail.)

With James Beard-nominated chef David Racicot handling the small plates, founder David Keating unleashed his mixologist magic on the drink menu. Expect smoke effects, fire, illusions, double takes, and disappearing acts (straight into your belly), accompanied by a wagyu pastrami smashburger, Italian malfatti goat cheese dumplings, and grasshopper crème brûlée. Don't forget brunch on weekends.

Modern American


(412) 586-4287

930 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Best steak: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

Local favorite alert. Book now if you want a taste of that Gaucho Parrilla Argentina life. With a rooftop garden serving this Strip District eatery, you can bet your biscuits that the veggies are as flavorful as the prime-cut beef.

Every food that can possibly hit the wood-fire grill gets a signature smoky seasoning from hardwoods like Pennsylvania-sourced hickory and oak. While you'd be happy with the garlicky jumbo shrimp or tilapia with charred lemons, the best plate in the house is the steak. Go for the marble-y New York Strip or the half-pound wood-grilled tenderloin filet. Whichever cut you choose, you'll get house-made chimichurri (Gaucho's oily garlic and parsley topper) and friendly service. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Argentinian steak and wood-fired grill


(412) 709-6622

146 6th St, Pittsburgh PA 15222

Best seasonal: Spork

James Beard-semifinalist chef and owner Christian Frangiadis understands the assignment when it comes to Spork's tasting menu. Not only will you be served of-the-moment seasonal offerings, but you will also be treated to surprise amuse-bouches throughout the meal, designed to broaden and delight your palate.

With a lineup that changes daily, you'll find fun plays on dishes you know (Dream Mountain Ranch elk bolognese), flavors you don't often find (osso bucco with huitlacoche forest mushroom polenta), and The Dessert, which happily comes with three sweet plates: Panna cotta, benne miso carrot cake, and gouda cheesecake with burnt honey cream and berry gel. It's a work of art you just have to taste. Closed Sundays; dinner reservations recommended.

Local American cuisine


(412) 441-1700

5430 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Best chicken: Given to Fly at Federal Galley food hall

Awaken to the "chickening." Well, that's how Given to Fly describes its crowd-favorite chicken sando outpost at Federal Galley food hall on the North Shore. In contention for USA Today's top food hall in 2024, Federal Galley's four kitchens are in constant rotation as local star chefs try new concepts — and earn devoted followings.

The chicken strategy here is simple: Choose a sandwich, tenders with fries, or tenders on a salad. Then, pick your sauce. Go with the Nashville hot, Tave Dhomas (a play on Wendy's founder's name) with bacon ranch, Monterey jack, lettuce, and tomato), or the Thai chili slash togarashi option called What's the Capital of Thailand?. Grab wings, crab rangoon fries, and banana pudding — and you'll be tapping out before you can answer, "Bangkok." Substitute Spak Bros. seitan in anything. Closed Monday.

Fast-casual chicken


200 Children's Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Best pizza: Driftwood Oven

Many of us have a sourdough starter living somewhere in the back of the fridge. But none of us thought of making a James Beard-nominated pizza with it, like Driftwood Oven co-founder and chef Neil Blazin did. He helms the only place to get sourdough pizza and pastries in the city.

What started as a traveling wood-fire oven became Pittsburgh's favorite spot for a slice of pepperoni. It's also dishing up enough meatballs, pork sandwiches, and apple snickerdoodle cookies to satisfy any appetite. Want extra bread with that? Purchase the Neighbor Loaf, which gets passed on to the local non-profit Lawrenceville United. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Sourdough pizzeria


(412) 251-0253

3615 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Best Appalachian: Wise County Biscuits & Cafe

There may be no end to the variety of unique Pennsylvania foods available to us. (Hi, scrapple!) But a cherished few rise so high that they land on the menu of a James Beard-nominated restaurateur. Even the Ritz tort has transcended its Appalachian roots — but Appalachia is so hot right now at Wise County Biscuits & Cafe.

Thank Grandma Sallie for inspiring her grandson, co-owner James Wolfe, with her home-cooked meals in Wise County, Virginia. Whether you do a country ham breakfast plate or braised pork sandwich for lunch, don't miss the $4 buttermilk biscuit with marmalade, pimento cheese, Pennsylvania honey, Tennessee sorghum, or all of the above. Opening for dinner service sometime in 2024. Closed Tuesday.

Appalachian-inspired breakfast and lunch


(412) 330-1389

911 Galveston Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Best Latin: Lilith

You might be seeing double if you hit up Sally Ann's for brunch and Lilith at night in old Shadyside. That's because chef Jamilka Borges — who helms the kitchen at Sally Ann's — opened her own spot, Lilith, with co-founder chef Dianne DeStefano, where these two are cooking up Pittsburgh's best Latin cuisine. Or make that "Sicilian Puerto Rican heritage in Pittsburgh, with Appalachian roots," as Borges described it to Pittsburgh City Paper. Listen up, Boricuas, the fancy lobster rolls are made with pan sobao.

Expect roots like yuca and taro to star alongside smoked bluefish, tuna tartare, and scallop ceviche. Classic tres leches cake gets a fresh makeover with lemongrass and basil. Closed Sunday to Tuesday.

Sicilian and Puerto Rican-inspired coastal fare


(412) 744-9290

238 Spahr St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Best sandwich: Primanti Bros.

At the outpost dubbed by the James Beard Foundation to be one of America's classics, the Primanti Bros. sandwich is a must-try, no-brainer, win-win situation. The beloved institution has been serving its sandos packed with seasoned fries and from-scratch coleslaw inside thick Italian bread since it opened in 1933.

Winner of the "coolest thing made in PA" award in 2023, Primanti Bros. is a Pittsburgh icon. There are shops popping up all over the state, but for the OG experience, stop by 18th St in the Strip District. Get the iconic Pitts-burger sandwich. You won't be disappointed.

"Almost Famous" sandwiches


(412) 263-2142

46 18th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222


It's tough to choose the best in a city that BBC Good Food tapped as one of its top 10 global food destinations in 2019. But as a native Pennsylvanian, I have a sixth sense about these things (and I'm team pig parts and potatoes all day). I backed up my research with verified heavy hitters like The James Beard Foundation, The New York Times, Esquire, and Wine Spectator, plus local reviews, for trends and stalwarts of the scene. Then, I doubled down on whether the restaurant had the personality and atmosphere to really quench a particular craving.