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Smallman Galley
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Aimee L.

The best restaurants in Pittsburgh

From classic sandwich shops to authentic Chinese food, these are Pittsburgh's best foodie spots

Written by
Lynn Freehill-Maye
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Pittsburgh is no longer just known for being an industrial city, full of factories, mills and stately buildings. Now, it’s gained a new, fresher reputation, partly owed to its thriving food scene, which is as diverse as its population. This isn’t just classic American food – in this Pennsylvania city you’ll find incredible Mexican, Indian, Chinese and more, conducted by some seriously innovative chefs. 

Pittsburgh is now known for some iconic foods that you can’t get anywhere else. This is the home of Primanti Brothers’ famous sandwich, Chengdu Gourmet’s spicy Sichuan hot pots and Concado’s filthy tacos. There’s so much to discover in Pittsburgh’s food scene, you’re going to want to get going like, right now. What are you waiting for?

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Best restaurants in Pittsburgh

Chengdu Gourmet
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sameer A.

1. Chengdu Gourmet

What is it: There are a million places to get Chinese food in Pennsylvania, but getting this kind of authentic, award-nominated Sichuan food is rare in any US city. Tucked away in a tiny hole in the wall, chef-owner Wei Zhu’s food tastes like it’s straight out of the Chengdu Province, but without showing off. 

Why goThis unassuming-looking spot might be one of the best meals you’ve ever had, especially if you like a serious hit of spice. Sit on one of the mismatched chairs in a vinyl booth under Chengdu Gourmet’s rather interesting interior and get ready to taste Chinese food like you’ve not tasted it before. 

Price: Bargain

What is it: While Spanish tapas have taken over the American dining world, Morcilla still manages to make its Basque-style pinxtos and cider distinct with straight-out-of-San Sebastián authenticity. Morcilla comes with a pedigree—Chef Justin Severino of fellow Lawrenceville favorite Cure is behind it, and Bon Appétit named it one of the best restaurants in America not long ago.

Why go: Since Severino is considered a “charcuterie god,” his chorizo and other cured meats are inevitably worth sacrificing for. Ideal for feasting like the Basque with your friends.

Price: Pricey

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What is it: Executive chef Csilla Thackray infuses her Eastern European roots and Hungarian background into this “hyper-seasonal” cafe, a Lawrenceville brunch fave. Come hungry for dishes that include latkes, spaetzle, and goatmilk feta from local farms.

Why go: Warm weather has brought splashy new dishes like caramelized scallops with pea shoots and quail egg, along with a breezy new patio. Plus, Thackray was recently named a Eater Young Gun semifinalist for helping set national dining trends.

Price: Average

Smallman Galley
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Aimee L.

4. Smallman Galley

What is it: This restaurant is made for those who don't want to choose. It allows innovative chefs to try out their concepts before launching their own restaurants. The four choices inside rotate every few months, so it always feels fresh. 

Why go: Variety is king at Smallman Galley, with recent offerings ranging from s’more toast to Detroit-style pizza. No reservations are needed, and there's 50 percent off during happy hour. A win. 

Price: Bargain

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What is it: Pittsburgh’s gone gourmet. Primanti Brothers, blessedly enough, has not. This Steel City classic started as a sandwich cart in 1933 and now has 24-hour locations in Market Square, the Bar Strip District, South Side and beyond.  

Why go: You’ve gotta try Primanti Brothers’ “almost famous” sandwiches piled high with French fries and coleslaw (a local tradition the founders helped start). Wings, pizza, beer, and the Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak round out the offerings, so the famished can’t lose.

Price: Bargain

Condado Tacos
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tony D.

6. Condado Tacos

What is it: Condado Tacos customers take a DIY approach to their tacos. Pick from seven varieties of tortilla or a bowl, add some chorizo, chicken, pulled jackfruit (or various other meat and veggie options), chuck on some slaw, cheese and/or salsa and enjoy it with a side of pickled jalapenos or bacon refried beans. 

Why go: Firstly, for the taste explosion you'll gift your tastebuds. Secondly, for the 50+ varieties of tequila and the dozen or so mezcals.

Price: Bargain

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Prantl’s Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Stephanie M.

7. Prantl’s Bakery

What is it: This old school German bakery is a Pittsburgh institution and this original branch at Shadyside has been there for over 40 years. Prantl's doesn't look fancy inside, but it's wholesome and the regular queues out the door attest to its brilliance. Get yourself a number, be patient and pick wisely from the 100-plus baked goods.

Why go: The famous burnt almond torte is a little puff of heaven: fluffy, creamy, light, and irresistibly amaretto-ish in flavor.

Price: Bargain

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