Pittsburgh has come a long way from its industrial roots. Over the past five years or so, the City of Bridges has traded steel for soulful cuisine and creative libations, with industry leaders like Richard DeShantz and Wei Zhu gaining national recognition and the city as a whole by tops the lists of America’s best foodie towns. Communities like Lawrenceville, East End and Squirrel Hill have seen restaurants open after opening, while pierogi shops and red sauce restaurants in Pittsburgh’s Eastern European and Italian communities share space with restaurants Latin like Market Square’s Las Velas, James Beard’s competitors like Chengdu Gourmet, and street food like Coriander & Ajo.
In 2020, COVID-19 turned the world upside down, and Burgh’s food industry with it. The pandemic has permanently closed a number of top restaurants, including Spoon, Zorba’s and even the Carlton Restaurant (after 37 years in business). But many have managed to weather the storm with creative hubs, strong customer loyalty, and supportive industry initiatives like Pittsburgh virtual tip jar and Allegheny eats. Las Velas began offering “pandemic packs” of family-sized fajitas, tacos and burritos; Driftwood Oven worked in the moonlight as a bakery on weekends to make up for lost pizza income; and the Warrens bottled their drinks for consumers to enjoy at home and served free take-out meals to employees on leave from the service industry. After dark in 2020, even Pittsburgh’s annual food and drink festivals, like Picklesburgh, Pierogi Festival, and Barrel & Flow Fest (formerly Fresh Fest), have resurfaced this year.
These days diners are going back to their favorite restaurants and trying out new restaurants and bars to make up for lost time. Whether you rediscover local favorites or spend a weekend in Steel City, the city’s must-see restaurants will be delighted to welcome you.
Note: The inclusion of restaurants with on-site catering should not be considered an endorsement for indoor dining. Studies indicate a lower risk of exposure to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk depends on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on catering offerings. For up-to-date information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit AIlegheny County Health Department.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Briana “Bree” White is a frequent traveler and best friend of a 20-pound fox terrier named Murphy. She is also the founder of the blog Breelicious Bites, where she chronicles her journey through the entire city of black and gold to sample what local restaurants have to offer and share her thoughts on everything from the gorgeous to the mundane.
To note: The restaurants on this map are listed geographically.