Back when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, there were scads of lunch places but few places to dine out downtown, with the exception of the theatre area near Heinz Hall, and some places in the big hotels and up on Mount Washington. Now? There’s a ton of places. Holy crap. I need a few more days to just devote to restaurant crawling. So this is a rough sketch of a few places I know of, and that have been recommended. Also, check out the comments section of the original entry for raves about varying places in and around Pittsburgh. Most folks I know of are not renting cars (parking is hideously expensive) but if you do have a car or want to hop a bus, there are great places in Oakland, Squirrel Hill (where I grew up) and the South Side.
I hear via Colleen Gleason and others that the restaurant and bar are going to be open next week (I bloody well hope so) but in case not, let’s head out.
First, a basic map I built at Google that highlights some of the places Bitchery readers highlighted in their email to me. Note – Starbucks locations are on this map, though there’s no shortage of coffeeshops that you can visit for morning caffeine. I’ll be right behind you. (Note – hit the + a bunch of times to zoom in. It defaults to, like, “view from space” or some shit.)
The Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership has a great page about getting around downtown for free (FREE, Cheesy bread, FREE!), and features a
map of downtown you can download and print out.
Note the blue defined area on the map – free transport, baby, yeah – until 7pm for the PATransit buses, and all day and all night for the T Light Rail. So drink up and never have to drive back to the hotel.
For awesome interactive maps of dining establishments in varying price points, the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership’s dining page is bootylicious.
99 Primanti Brothers: 2 Market Square.
Back in the day, steelworkers didn’t have a long lunch break, and they didn’t have a place to sit down and eat. Primanti brothers sandwiches started putting the French fries IN the sandwich so as to give the steel workers a portable and freaking enormous lunch they could eat standing up with little mess. Primanti’s sandwiches are a Pittsburgh insitution, and keeping with what I frequently say about my hometown: the portions are huge and the people are friendly.
The 1902 Tavern: 24 Market Square
I used to go here all the time with my family for lunch on weekends. The French dip roast beef sandwich and fries with beer cheese were a favorite of mine – back when I didn’t know what a calorie was. The bar here is gorgeous and the setting will probably set an historical romance author to daydreaming, because the whole place looks like something from the past. Befriend a Liquid Silver Press author for a free drink coupon good at the 1902, and say hi to the staff there. Event and conference planners familiar with the ‘burgh tell me these folks are among the nicest and eager to meet the RT convention attendees.
Market Square in general is awesome – there’s the Ale House, a Starbucks, and various other places to eat, and a park in the middle.
If you’re really, REALLY looking to drop a fair load of money, there’s a Morton’s at 625 Liberty Avenue, which is east of the hotel up Liberty, and a Ruth’s Chris in PPG place, which is south of Market Square. You can get your eat on and drop some serious dough there.
Another place I’m going to try because I used to eat there ALL the time is Max & Erma’s on Stanwix Street (Up Liberty, left on Stanwix), and Cuzamil, (a a review of their second location scored a pretty good review) because I love Mexican food.
Mallora, on the South Side, if you feel like a bit of a hike, has fantastic Spanish cuisine, and is the restaurant where Hubby and I went on the night of our Senior prom – though we weren’t dating each other at the time.
See you in Pittsburgh, y’all.