Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Six Places To Eat in Pittsburgh Right Now.


Since meeting my Black & Yellow-adoring and born wife figure, I go to Pittsburgh twice a year -- for July 4th and Christmas. I've grown rather fond of the Burgh as it's rapidly become my second home. It's been especially fun and hunger-inducing the past few visits due to the city's food revival. It is surely a "food city" these days with an unrelenting pace of what's shiny and new. This makes visiting an unrelenting pursuit of eating the next big thang.

Despite the influx (and I do very much explore the latest options), on every stay it's almost mandatory I stop at my six standbys. A visit to the Steel City without making it to all six is an utter failure and something I try with all my being to avoid. Here are the six...

Get ice cream at... Millie's Homemade Ice Cream (Downtown & Shadyside) -
Pittsburgh isn't New York or Portland when it comes to the 'scream. There aren't idyllic, blessed organic scooperies on every corner. It's more of an old school ice cream city - with a few old-fashioned, family run suburban custard shops ruling the roost. Then Millie's came around and changed the landscape. Millie's ice cream is. so. damn. creamy. So damn creamy, bro. My wife, who orders Salted Caramel everywhere we go, swears Millie's version is the tits of the tits. Personally, I'm fond of the Maple Bourbon pictured above.

Get Argentinian sandwiches of the Gods at... Gaucho (Strip District) -
As you can see in the picture atop this post, Gaucho Parrilla Argentina (but no one, I mean no one, calls it anything beyond "Gaucho," so don't sound like a touristy fool...) is not fucking around. Everything in the joint is fired over a wood grill. The result: smoky, flavor-packed meats, seafood and chicken so authentic you'd think you're in Buenos Aires. But you're not! You're still in Pittsburgh! Even better: unlike most Argentinian-American joints, Gaucho is fast casual, meaning you walk up and order; a.k.a. it's wallet-friendly. I highly recommend you order their signature carne sandwich with filet. Don't add any toppings (aside from the complimentary caramelized onions as they're just frivolous when meat's this good) - except your favorite of their four house sauces (they're all incredible). Be aware though this place appears to significantly gain in popularity every time I return to PGH. A line awaits you unless you hold out for off-hours.

 Get a burger at... Burgatory (Multiple locations) -
Burgatory is the pinnacle of Build-Your-Own-Burger joints. They feature higher quality beef, cheese, toppings and buns than their competition. Their rubs are top notch. They serve housemade fresh cut potato chips and fries. Their beer tap selection is local and seasonal. My go-to? Hormone Free Beef with a Cracked Peppercorn rub and Horseradish Cheddar, Whole Grain Mustard, Arugula, Grilled Onions and Banana Peppers. On a Pretzel bun.

Get dinner at... Butcher and the Rye (Downtown) -
For a true sit-down dinner, I can't recommend Butcher and the Rye enough. It's a little loud and has a NYC Meatpacking District hippish vibe to it, but there's not a better formal, big city meal in town. Start with the Brussels Sprouts (killer brown butter-dill-parmigiano reggiano coating) and then just order anything meat-related. And lots of it. Get a cocktail or two as well. You deserve it, bro.

Get tacos at... Smoke Taqueria (Lawrenceville) - 
I'll get this out of the way: Smoke doesn't really serve what I, a Los Angeleno, would refer to as a "taco." Roll your eyes as you may. What they do serve is frigging delicious food though. Smoked BBQ meats and some unique spicy sauces are thrown into fresh flour tortillas (alongside some solid Mac and Cheese). My personal favorite sorta taco is the Gringo - a mix of grilled sirloin and brisket, avocado cream, pico, cheddar, crispy tortilla detritus and cilantro. It's both not Pittsburgh at all and so Pittsburgh at the same time. Meal over and you're full, but not so-full-I-need-lay-down? Head across the street to Round Corner Cantina for Pittsburgh's best margarita. Still on your feet? Cross the street back again and head into Smoke's neighbor, Row House Cinema, grab a local craft beer from the attached beer shop and catch a classic movie. Or...

Get a slice at... Butterwood Bake Consortium (Lawrenceville) - 

A shining star amongst all the old-fashioned overtly sweet bakeries dotting the Pittsburgh cityscape, the funky, new school Butterwood Bake Consortium should be everyone's go-to bakery. Selling varying slices on the daily, BBC can't be accused of being boring. Upon my last visit, I very much enjoyed their Chocolate Olive Oil with Strawberry Buttercream. In the past they've featured the likes of Lavender Blackberry, Chocolate Pistachio and Almond Espresso. Heads up: they're closed Monday and Tuesday.

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