NEXTpittsburgh

Powered by NEXTpittsburgh |   Tom O’Connor

Late-night menus are making midnight food adventures in Pittsburgh more interesting. When late-night cravings hit, it’s nice to have fresh options to go along with the all-night diners, pizza joints and food trucks. And it’s safe to say that food tastes pretty fantastic when you’ve been fueling up on beers and cocktails all evening, or just wrapping up a busy work week. But when you find that perfect “still open” spot to match your mood, it’s magical.

Ready for a little late-night culinary exploring? Here are a few places to add to your map along with some of the midnight classics:

Robatayaki at Umami. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
Robatayaki at Umami. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Umami – Lawrenceville

Umami feels like the perfect late-night destination. The red lanterns give off a comfortable glow and the vibe feels relaxed with just enough “night market” energy to keep the fun going.

There’s a lot to choose from here: platters of colorful sushi and sashimi, temaki sushi rolled into handheld cones, rice bowls and ramen, gyozas and shumai all bursting with flavor.

The tantalizing smells of the robatayaki grill are immediately mouthwatering. This Japanese barbecue-like method involves small skewers of meat or vegetables slow-grilled over hot charcoal. The point is not to flame up and scorch the food, but to slow grill everything to its sweet spot, where juices start to flow. Beef and chicken take on smoky flavors and a crunchy outside while the inside is melt-in-your-mouth tender.

The robust cold sake menu offers many different flavor profiles to experience. The cocktail list is peppered with Japanese-leaning elements like flavored shochus (Japanese distilled beverages), ginger, coconut, wasabi and matcha. There’s also a full wine list and a great selection of Japanese beers that pair perfectly with bold flavors.

Our pick: The Wagyu beef tenderloin and pork belly from the robotayaki menu.

Location: 202 38th St., Lawrenceville (above Round Corner Cantina). Open: Tuesday – Thursday 4:30 p.m. – 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday 4:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Seafood Wontons and "Moon" Sauce at Cambo-dican. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
Seafood Wontons and “Moon” Sauce at Cambod-ican. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Cambod-ican Kitchen – The South Side

People light up when you mention the name—“Oh, Cambod-ican! Love that place!” Mentioning it often leads to flashbacks of post-bar adventures and crazy nights: late-night munchies at the famous food cart that eventually morphed into a real restaurant on the South Side. Cambod-ican Kitchen is now an after-hours staple in the neighborhood.

Cambodian and Asian fusion cuisine, with all kinds of noodle dishes, curries, wontons and kabobs, is a big draw. Cash only orders are placed right at the kitchen window which, since it’s open most nights until 5 a.m., sees its fair share of interesting customers.

What Cambod-ican lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for with quirkiness, good prices and a friendly feel. Owner Dan McSwiggen keeps the energy level up, enthusiastically pushing wife Moeun’s kitchen creations like the Cambodian noodle soup, Caw Goh beef noodles and General Tso’s chicken.

Our pick: Crispy wontons with “moon” sauce. If you’re lucky enough to be offered the pickled Thai peppers from the back, say yes.

Location: 1701 East Carson St. on the South Side. Open: Tuesday – Saturday 6 p.m. – 5 a.m.

Late night empanadas and tacos at Pirata.
Late-night empanadas and tacos at Pirata. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Pirata – Downtown

A late-night visit to Pirata is like a little island vacation. Open since October, the rum bar and Caribbean restaurant features 200 different rums and a late-night menu packed with big spices and savory island flavors. There’s a crowd-pleasing selection of empanadas, tacos, wings and sliders. Pirata keeps it simple with a special late-night menu that doesn’t overwhelm. Everything is easy to eat and share right at the bar. The late-night menu is offered Monday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to midnight.

If you want to learn about rum, this is your place. The bartenders are knowledgeable and sampling is made easy with a variety of rum flights. Pirata features rums from as far away as India, and as close by as Maggie’s Farm in The Strip.

Fortunately, the beer list is more about keeping beer lovers happy than sticking with the Caribbean theme. Spain and Argentina feature heavily on the wine list. For a little late-night pick-me-up, there’s cafe cubano and cafe con leche.

Our pick: Order a few different things to share but don’t miss the Jamaican beef patty empanadas.

Location: 274 Forbes Ave., Downtown. Open: Monday – Thursday 11 – 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday 11 – 2 a.m. and Sunday 12 – 9 p.m.

Yucca fries at Tres Rios. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
Yucca fries at Tres Rios. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Tres Rios – The South Side

Tres Rios is a relatively new option along Carson Street on the South Side. The Mexican kitchen and tequila bar serves an upscale spin on street food until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Pork belly tacos and slow-roasted lamb tacos share the menu with crab cake and chicken tortas (Mexican sandwiches) served on grilled crusty bread. In addition to more unique combos, the Tres Rios kitchen prepares classic burritos, fajitas and made-to-order guacamole.

The bar menu features margaritas and cocktails made with a range of tequilas including blanco, reposado, and añejo. There’s a great beer list as well.

The pick: The delicious crispy yucca fries, served as a side or as an appetizer bowl topped with cheese sauce, beer-braised jalapeños, and chorizo.

Location: 1719 East Carson, South Side. Open:  Monday – Wednesday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – midnight.

The "special sandwich" late night choice at Apteka. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
The “special sandwich” late-night choice at Apteka. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Apteka – Bloomfield

Apteka makes for the perfect late-night spot that feels a little more soulful and nourishing. The vegan menu has a way of pleasing with its unique potato dumplings in rich broth and some of the most delicious pierogi you have ever tasted. There are also sandwiches, soups and small plates to try.

Place your order at the bar and grab a seat there, or at any of the tables. There’s a comfortable feel here that’s calm, homey and relaxed. There’s always good music in the background. At night, the ambience shifts to a pleasant darker and more lounge-like feel. On some nights, there’s a DJ handling the music. It’s a great place to dive in and explore different kinds of Central and Eastern European cuisine.

One tasty late-night option is the “special sandwich” featuring smoked chili paste, smoked apples, red cabbage slaw, garlic, salted turnip, savory sauce and a veggie pate. It’s a delicious explosion of flavors that work so well together, with just the right amount of crunch all served on tasty bread.

The cocktails are unique and seductive, often featuring a rotation of liqueurs, simple syrups, specially preserved fruits like cherries and black currants, fermented and pickled things, shrubs, and herbsall things that lean toward experimentation but also tell a story. Embracing something different can lead to great rewards here.

Our pick: The special sandwich is THE late-night choice, hands down.

Location: 4606 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. Open Wednesday – Sunday 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.

"The Korean" taco at Täkō. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
“The Korean” taco at Täkō. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Täkō – Downtown

Täkō is all about street food, small plates and savory tacos with fresh ingredients served in unique combinations. Entering next to the streetfront kitchen feels like walking into a night market busy with revelers. The DJ spinning tunes and the vibrant visuals add to the nighttime energy. If you’re lucky enough to grab bar space, you’ll be very happy. Getting a table can sometimes be tricky without a reservation, so plan ahead if you need to because its really worth it.

Once you settle in, the menu has a big range of bold flavors with all kinds of tacos to try including grilled octopus, chorizo, grilled chicken and duck confit. There’s street corn, poke, ceviche and wings that make great late-night shares.

While many menu items are only offered until midnight, Täkō rolls out a special late-night menu “starting around 12-ish till we run out.” It’s a simpler, rotating selection that often includes loaded nachos and straightforward taco selections more in line with people’s post-midnight decision-making abilities.

All of these great tastes are served up alongside a big selection margaritas with bold and delicious taste combos. There’s a great list of tequila-based cocktails, beer, sangria and wine.

Our pick: The Korean—a scrumptious taco made with wagyu short rib, peanuts, fermented cucumber, cabbage and cilantro.

Location: 214 6th St., Downtown. Open Monday – Thursday 5 – 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday 5 p.m. to beyond midnight (times vary), Sunday 3 – 9 p.m.

English style chicken pot pie at The Pub Chip Shop. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
English style chicken pot pie at The Pub Chip Shop. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

The Pub Chip Shop – The South Side

British pub food classics like fish and chips, Scotch egg, sausage rolls and sandwiches made on fresh baked buttery rolls called “baps” are just some of the late-night highlights.  The Pub Chip Shop serves until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Locals know this place as the early morning home of Just Good Donuts. If you’re having a really late night, it’s almost worth hanging around for them to open at 6 a.m.—the doughnuts are that good, but that’s another story. 

The English-style savory pies here are neatly shaped with a homemade lard crust that is irresistibly flaky and delicious.

Our pick: Try the chicken pot pie or a steak and ale for an extra hearty late-night snack.

Location: 1830 East Carson St., The South Side. Open: Monday – Thursday 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday 6 a.m. – 12 a.m., Sunday 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Chief Pizziolo Joe Pepe at Fiori's Pizzaria. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
Chief Pizziolo Joe Pepe at Fiori’s Pizzaria. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Fiori’s Pizzaria – Brookline

Pizza preference is hotly debated topic in this town. Spak BrothersMineo’sFiori’sA’Pizza Badamo—a lot of players with a strong pizza game. There’s also a good variety of styles like the wood-fired Italian classics at Piccolo FornoAnthony’s coal-fired pizzas, and the interesting cold-cheese-on-top twist at Beto’s. But who’s going to be there for you in the wee hours? Two Pittsburgh legends, Mineo’s in Squirrel Hill and Fiori’s in Brookline both serve up hand-tossed pies very very late (Mineo’s until 2 a.m. and Fiori’s until 3 a.m.).

If you’ve made the uphill trek on the cobblestone road to Fiori’s in Brookline, you know the payoff is delicious. Pizzas so heavy with cheese you need a furniture dolly to get to the car. Their crusts get raves for hitting the sweet spot between crunchy and chewy. The white pizza special is also a big hit.

Our pick: You can’t go wrong with any pizza choice here, but add on a calzone to-go with your order. They’re huge, and make great leftovers. Don’t forget to say yes to the extra container of sauce.

Location: 103 Capital Ave., Brookline. Open Sunday – Thursday 11 – 1 a.m., Friday – Saturday 11 – 3 a.m.

Honey-dipped fried chicken at Ritter's Diner. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
Honey-dipped fried chicken at Ritter’s Diner. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

Ritter’s Diner – Bloomfield

When you can’t decide if you want dinner or breakfast, it’s good to have all the options available. Ritter’s is a trip down memory lane for a lot of Pittsburghers, and most things here don’t change very often. There’s comfort in that. And sometimes in the middle of the night, you need comfort.

Breakfast can be a great way to end the night, and there’s nothing better than a stack of pancakes or a cheesy omelet with bacon on the side. But if your cravings are leaning more toward fried chicken or cheese fries or some Greek specialties, Ritter’s can still hook you up. Best of all, they’re almost always open.

Our pick: Honey-dipped fried chicken.

Location: 5221 Baum Blvd., Bloomfield. Open: Monday – Tuesday 6 a.m. – 1 a.m., Wednesday – Saturday 24 hours, Sunday until 10 p.m.

The classic "O" fries at The Original Hot Dog Shop. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
The classic “O” fries at The Original Hot Dog Shop. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

The Original Hot Dog Shop – Oakland

The Original Hot Dog Shop, or the “O,” as its known, has been a late-night fixture in the city for decades. It’s a classic choice for hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and fries. Oh, and there’s beer, because you might need some to take home.

It’s pretty fun to watch the late-night lineup of slightly dazed people, fresh from the bars and now suddenly in harsh lighting, trying to make decisions about what to order. Lots of seating makes this an easy place to roll into late with a bigger group.

The pick: The “O” fries. Go big, then go home.

Location: 3901 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Open: Monday – Wednesday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 1:30 a.m. For some of the history about this longtime Pittsburgh classic, be sure to check out their website.

Also worth notingBrillobox serves a late-night menu that includes burgers and banh mi sandwiches; Mike & Tonys Gyros serves late-night options until 3 a.m. Tuesday – Saturday.; Primanti Bros. in The Strip is open 24 hours; Eat’n Park serves a full menu including breakfast 24 hours a day.

The Original Hot Dog Shop. Photo by Tom O'Connor.
The Original Hot Dog Shop. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

 

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Powered by NEXTpittsburgh |  Michael Machosky

So, Fences is up for a lot of Academy Awards this year. It was mostly made in the same neighborhood where playwright August Wilson imagined itwith Denzel Washington’s Troy Maxson roaring across the Hill District of the ’50s like the literal wrecking ball that would smash through the neighborhood soon thereafter.

It’s both one of the best movies ever made in Pittsburgh, and one of the most Pittsburgh movies ever made. Those are two completely different things, of course.

For sheer Pittsburgh content (regardless of quality), it’s kind of hard to top Sudden Death (1995), which features a fight scene between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Iceburgh (the Penguins mascot) in the kitchen of the Civic Arena, using a deli meat slicer and a deep fryer as weapons. Flashdance (1983) is another Pittsburgh classicabout a steelworker/stripper (!), in a time-capsule-of-the-’80s sense. It was a massive hit, even though the critics hated it.

Picking the best movies made in Pittsburgh, though, is actually really tough. Even five years ago, it was easier. But the recent boom in Pittsburgh-made productions has knocked out some good-but-not-great movies, like Wonder Boys (2000), of the top 10.

As always, feel free to disagree, and add your own picks below. I feel like I’m going to change my mind already.

Tom Hardy in "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012).
Tom Hardy in “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012). Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Funding, LLC.

Tom Hardy in “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012). Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Funding, LLC.

10). The Dark Knight Rises (2012) is certainly the biggest movie ever made in Pittsburgh, making more than a billion dollars worldwide. Compared to the first two chapters in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight (Batman) trilogy, it’s a lugubrious, murky slog, with the franchise’s least interesting villain (Tom Hardy tried, but it’s hard to act with your mouth covered). Still, there are a few action sequences here that are simply stunning, such as the apocalyptic destruction of Heinz Field on game day. And by this point, the onrushing doom of Nolan’s vision has its own unstoppable momentum.

9.) Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy (1988): There’s always been a strong undercurrent of experimental cinema in Pittsburgh, going back to the ‘60s. To single out one superb example, there’s Tony Buba’s sublimely weird Lightning Over Braddock. It’s about both the economic implosion of a working class steel town paradise, and some goofball local character named Sal, who periodically hijacks the whole movie, steering it towards his own esoteric, self-aggrandizing ends. You’ll never see another movie like it.

8.) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012): In the social hierarchy of high school, being a wallflowerthe shy, observant sortis only slightly above hall monitors and kids crammed into lockers. But for freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman), there are some perks, like being adopted by an older clique of worldly misfits, including a girl who was a wizard in a past life (Emma Watson). Somehow, of the three great coming-of-age novels of Pittsburgh adolescence, the best book, Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, made the worst movie. The second best book, Jesse Andrews’ brilliant and underrated Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, made a very good movie (just missing this list). However, Stephen Chbosky’s Perks takes the crown, through outstanding performances from its leads.

"Dawn of the Dead" (1978).
Ken Foree in “Dawn of the Dead” (1978). The MKR Group, Inc.

Ken Foree in “Dawn of the Dead” (1978). The MKR Group, Inc.

7.) Dawn of the Dead (1978): The legendary first sequel to Night of the Living Dead has some surprisingly sharp satire of modern consumer culture buried beneath the endless severed limbs and decapitated heads. A few lonely survivors try to ride out the apocalypse holed up in Monroeville Mall, while the undead return to wander endlessly, aimlesslynot that much differently than when they were alive, actually. Who knew the world would end not with a bang or a whimper, but with an all-you-can-eat buffet (of humans) at the mall?

Tim Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito in "Bob Roberts" (1992).
Tim Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito in “Bob Roberts” (1992).

Tim Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito in “Bob Roberts” (1992).

6.) Bob Roberts (1992): Though obviously intended as political satire, it now hits a bit too close to homelike some sort of demonic prophecy foretold. Actor/writer/director Tim Robbins plays a genial folk-singing fascist, an entertainer who makes the jump to a Pennsylvania Senate race by preying on the fears and worst instincts of the marginal and the gullible. He cleverly inverts Bob Dylanesque protest songs into anthems about lynching drug dealers (and users), and the lazy immigrants and welfare queens living large on your unwitting largesse: “Times are Changin’ Back,” “Retake America,” “My Land.” It’s funny and ridiculous until, suddenly, it’s not. Still probably less absurd than our current political reality.

5.) Fences (2016): It’s impossible to know how this will age, or how it will relate to the rest if Denzel Washington adapts all 10 of August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle plays for the screen. At times, Fences feels more like a play than a movie, but that’s really the only criticism that sticks. By now, the role fits Washington like an old catcher’s mitt. He and Viola Davis reprise the roles that won them Tonys on Broadway, wearing the pain and sorrow and fleeting bits of joy of their fenced-in characters as if August Wilson is still watching.

"Slap Shot" (1977).
Paul Newman in “Slap Shot” (1977). Universal Pictures.

Paul Newman in “Slap Shot” (1977). Universal Pictures.

4.) Slap Shot (1977). Another genre that rarely gets respect is the sports movie. Slap Shot (shot in Johnstown, Pittsburgh and upstate New York),  might be the funniest and best movie about sports ever made. It’s a rite of passage for hockey fans, and explains the pugnacious, blue-collar soul of the sport like nothing else. Though it’s easy to miss amidst all the blood and unbelievably crude jokes, there’s also an undercurrent of foreboding hereadroitly depicting a looming crisis of masculinity, when the mills and factories are shutting down, and people are clinging to any bit of hope and camaraderie they can find.

3.) The Deer Hunter (1978): This film is a panoramic portrait of mill town martyrdom, as souls forged in the steel mills of Western Pennsylvania are fed into the final furnace of Vietnam. Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep all appear at the peaks of their respective powers. From the wild Russian Orthodox wedding to the prison camp game of Russian roulette, this is the sort of cinematic moonshot that either launches or detonates careers. For Michael Cimino, it was the former, until its catastrophic follow-up, Heaven’s Gate (1980), became the latter.

2.) The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Serial killers have kind of been done to death (sorry), but it’s hard to overstate how unsettling and original this seemed back in 1991. It won Academy Awards in the Big 5 categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay, which never happens, and horror movies rarely get nominated for anything in the first place. Also, the house in Fayette County (which is pretty nice!) where the killer, uh, did bad stuff, took forever to sell, because . . . well, we don’t really know. But go ahead, you try to live there.

"Night of the Living Dead" (1968).
Judith O’Dea in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968).

Judith O’Dea in “Night of the Living Dead” (1968).

1.) Night of the Living Dead (1968): In town for the Pittsburgh premiere of Land of the Dead in 2005, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino mentioned that the American independent movie was born in Pittsburgh with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Romero (who previously worked on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood), along with some friends, family and friends-of-friends, didn’t realize they were inventing the modern horror movie or a zombie genre that still refuses to die. The claustrophobic, walls-closing-in sets, shadowy black & white film, and tense, wartime newsreel-like cinematography weren’t selected to maximize terrorthey were just cheap. The guts and innards yanked from screaming victims weren’t elaborate special effectsthey were pieces of meat the butcher shop didn’t want. Duane Jones wasn’t intended to break new ground for African-American actorshe just gave the best audition. In 1999, the movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

Got a favorite movie made in Pittsburgh that we didn’t mention? Here’s your chance in the comments below.

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Bonnie Pfister

It’s baa-aack: the contest for the National Hardware Cup makes a three-peat in Pittsburgh this year, with the regional competition returning to TechShop in East Liberty on Thursday, Feb. 21.

The contest is brainchild of Pittsburgh’s own AlphaLab Gear, a leading product accelerator, and TechShop, the nation’s premier “maker” facility providing tools and know-how for do-it-yourselfers. The AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup aims to find the top ideas in hardware (that is, tangible products, as opposed to software or services) across the nation. This year. teams will compete in Los Angeles, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington D.C., Chicago and Austin, with the grand finale playing out here in Pittsburgh in mid-April.

The winning team in each city will take home $3,000 cash, a year-long license for 3-D design software SOLIDWORKS and other prizes. The national winner — which will be decided back here in Pittsburgh — will earn $50,000 from Startbot VC.

Watch six Pittsburgh teams make their four-minute pitches to local venture capitalists and hardware CEOs from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 21 at TechShop. Admission is free, but space fills up quickly, so reserve your seat today!

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Powered by NEXTpittsburghDrew Cranisky

“You pick the place.”

Few things set me to trembling like those four innocent words. Whether it’s a high school friend visiting for a night or a few relatives in town for the weekend, we all end up getting saddled with the unenviable task of selecting a dinner spot. And it’s not always easy. Your grandma wants something quiet, your cousin wants something cool, your uncle wants something cheap—and you just want to get it over with.

There’s enough to be stressed about during the holidays without panicking over reservations. Sure, you could just head to Primanti’s and call it a day. But iconic though it may be, Pittsburgh has plenty more to offer.

That’s why we’ve drawn up this handy guide to dining out with out-of-towners. Read on for recommendations tailored to all the family, friends and long lost lovers visiting Pittsburgh this holiday season.

Menu at Eleven
A special menu for a private party at Eleven.

The Visitor: Your well-off parents/grandparents/mysterious benefactor—and they’re picking up the tab.

The Place: Eleven, Strip District

Why: What to do when someone else is paying but you’re picking the spot? You don’t want to choose the fanciest place out there or select somewhere with strange or fussy cuisine. Eleven strikes a perfect balance between formal and casual, bold but familiar. Chef Eli Wahl and his talented team create unique takes on classic American dishes, from crab cakes to strip steak. Located in a former warehouse in the Strip District, Eleven sits at the intersection of elegance and good old Pittsburgh grit.

More Picks: Spoon, East Liberty, Alla Famiglia, Allentown

The Visitor: Your Dr. Oz-obsessed aunt, who is avoiding a new food every time you see her.

The Place: Eden, Shadyside

Why: Though Pittsburgh food has an artery-clogging reputation, Eden provides a cozy haven for nearly any dietary preference. The entire place is gluten-free (good news for those concerned about cross-contamination) and almost 100% vegan. With a seasonally rotating menu heavy on inventive raw dishes and chefs sensitive to food allergies, Eden pays attention to the eaters that other restaurants ignore.

More Picks: Apteka, Bloomfield, B52, Lawrenceville

Photo by Brian Cohen.
Photo by Brian Cohen.

The Visitor: Your childhood pal, who still lives at home and is perpetually broke.

The Place: Noodlehead, Shadyside

Why: Noodlehead is no-frills—they’re cash only, the menu rarely changes, and they don’t even have a phone number. But unlike plenty of places that make the claim, they actually pass the savings on to customers. Their small menu boasts a mix of classic Thai dishes and house specialties like the Street Noodle #1, an addictive combination of fried chicken, rice noodles and an umami bomb of a sauce. And with a BYOB fee of a measly 50 cents, you’ll leave full and tipsy for less than 15 bucks.

More Picks: Taj Mahal, West View, The Dor-Stop, Dormont

Meat's the draw at Gaucho Parilla, the Argentinian restaurant that packs them in.
Meat’s the draw at Gaucho Parilla, the Argentinian restaurant that packs them in.

The Visitor: Your gym rat brother, who wants heaps on heaps of meat.

The Place: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, Strip District

Why: For the first two years or so that it was open, it was nearly impossible to get a seat at Gaucho Parilla Argentina. And now that the Strip District destination has tripled in size? Well, it’s still tough. But that’s a testament to just how good this Argentinian shrine to beef really is. Landing on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. for the past two years, Gaucho cooks everything on a wood-fired grill, from blood sausage to flank steak—and even the occasional vegetable.

More Picks: Whitfield, East Liberty, Tessaro’s, Bloomfield

The Visitor: Your NYC/Chicago/LA friend, who still can’t understand why you’d live in Pittsburgh.

The Place: Max’s Allegheny Tavern, North Side

Why: You could try to wow a skeptical friend with any number of glitzy Downtown spots. But chances are that they’ll know a place back home that does it bigger or better. Instead, why not blindside them with somewhere that’s Pittsburgh through and through, of which no equivalent exists beyond our hills? Max’s Allegheny Tavern fits the bill. With old-school German food, friendly people and décor that looks like it’s been untouched for a century, Max’s is as classic Pittsburgh as it gets.

More Picks: Pierogies Plus, McKees Rocks, Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, Bloomfield

The Visitor: A gaggle of relatives who want a restaurant that suits everyone, from your picky younger cousin to your snooty brother-in-law.

Dinner at The Porch. Photo courtesy of The Porch.
Dinner at The Porch. Photo courtesy of The Porch.

The Place: The Porch at Schenley, Oakland

Why: This is always a tough predicament—you need a place with a diverse menu, moderate prices and a whole lot of space. The Porch at Schenley nails it. Surrounded by universities, the Porch is prepared for large groups of all ages and stripes, with ample seating indoors and outside. The menu features plenty of safe bets, from a prime rib sandwich to a rotating selection of pizzas. But with lots of local produce and a rooftop garden, there are enough unique touches to keep everyone happy.

More Picks: Pamela’s Diner, multiple locations, Smallman Galley, Strip District

At Morcilla, ranked tops in the country. Photo by Adam Milliron
At Morcilla, ranked tops in the country. Photo by Adam Milliron.

The Visitor: Your college roommate who’s a food trend hawk—she spends more time scouring Eater and Yelp than she does actually eating.

The Place: Morcilla, Lawrenceville

Why: Though I shudder at the word “foodie,” we all have friends who proudly embrace the label. And for a sure-fire bet to dazzle that friend, head to Morcilla. Though sister restaurant Cure continues to turn out world-class food, Morcilla is new darling of Pittsburgh’s food scene. Recently named one of Bon Appétit‘s Best New Restaurants for 2016, Morcilla excels at authentic Spanish tapas, charcuterie and drinks. With a menu ranging from single bite pintxos to huge platters of suckling pork roast, a spread at Morcilla will wow even the most jaded foodie.

More Picks: Pork & Beans, Downtown, Legume, Oakland

Burger and fries at Independent Brewing Company.
Burger and fries at Independent Brewing Company.

The Visitor: Your boozehound work colleague, who’s sweeping through for a night and wants great drinks to go with the food.

The Place: Independent Brewing Company, Squirrel Hill

Why: There are plenty of great breweries around town, and there’s a good chance they’ll have a killer food truck parked outside. But for a whirlwind chance to try the best of Western Pennsylvania beer, head to Squirrel Hill’s Independent Brewing Company. Despite the name, they don’t actually brew anything there. They do, however, dedicate all of their taps to the latest and greatest offerings from our region’s 50-plus breweries. Along with an impressive cocktail program and Chef Monique Ruvolo’s Middle Eastern-tinged bar food, the IBC is not your average neighborhood bar.

More Picks: Butterjoint, Oakland, Spirit, Lawrenceville

The Visitor: Your old high school flame—and you’re hoping something might be rekindled.

Dish Osteria and Bar on the South Side. Photo by TH Carlisle
Dish Osteria and Bar on the South Side. Photo by TH Carlisle.

The Place: Dish Osteria and Bar, South Side

Why: If seafood, pasta and red wine in a cozy neighborhood joint doesn’t scream romance, then I guess I’m hopeless. Dish Osteria and Bar has been a South Side staple for 15 years, but with Chef/Owner Michele Savoia at the helm, the quality never wavers. At Dish, the focus is on top-notch ingredients and classic preparations, and the super-fresh seafood is always a good bet. Accompanied by a pick from their mostly Italian wine list, dinner at Dish is the perfect way to kick off a romantic evening.

More Picks:  Avenue B, Shadyside, Altius, Mt. Washington

Brussel kale pizza at Piccolo Forno.
BrusselKale pizza at Piccolo Forno.

The Visitor: A total stranger.

The Pick: Piccolo Forno, Lawrenceville

Why: Once in a while, you get asked to choose a place for someone you don’t know at all. Your dad’s old work buddy, perhaps, or a friend of a friend who just moved to town. In these situations, I can’t think of a more crowd-pleasing food than pizza. Though everyone’s got their favorite place for a pie, Lawrenceville’s Piccolo Forno hits all the right notes. It’s classy but affordable (being BYOB helps), and the atmosphere is lively and inviting. And if you happen to find some weirdo who doesn’t like pizza, the homemade pasta dishes are every bit as good.

More Picks: Dinette, East Liberty, Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon & Downtown

Looking for more great restaurants? Check out the 16 best restaurants that opened in 2016.

* * * * * *

Looking for a job? ImaginePittsburgh.com‘s got ‘em — more than 20,000 open positions on our powerful, 10-county job search aggregator, updated nightly.

Find a job, advance your career, build a life you’ll love: ImaginePittsburgh.com.

Bonnie Pfister

Happy Thanksgiving Week! The season of goodwill, good cheer and time off is upon us. You may not be job hunting now, but it’s a fine time to begin taking stock. Are you happy in your current career? Is it time to take a look at what else is out there?

The good news is that Pittsburgh is rich in job opportunities. There are more than 25,000 jobs available today in the Pittsburgh region and hundreds of companies looking to hire talent like you! Our website is undergoing enhancements that are making it even easier for you to explore careers, occupations and more.

Grab a snack, a warm drink and cozy up to a few of these:

Investor Relations Director at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (our parent organization)

Senior Associate Scientist at Covestro

Technology Specialist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

IMO Analyst at Federated Investors

Software Engineer I at Development Dimensions International

Engineering Specialist at FedEx Ground

Too busy to check these out now? Bookmark ImaginePittsburgh.com or save us to your favorite read-it-later app. You can also sign up for career news about the region through our RSS feedFacebook or Twitter. 

Bonnie Pfister

Check out our Facebook photo album for more images from the fall 2016 Pittsburgh student tours.

ImaginePittsburgh.com is getting Pittsburgh students off campus and on location at some of the coolest employers anywhere.

Google, UPMC Enterprises, PNC, startup incubator AlphaLab Gear, software maker Truefit and design/engineering studio Deeplocal were among the workplaces visited in two tours this fall.

Student journalists visit Deeplocal in the Strip District.
Student journalists visit Deeplocal in the Strip District.

“These students are getting up-close and personal with hiring managers, heads of startups and innovators in organizations large and small,” said Linda Topoleski, vice president of workforce programs for the Allegheny Conference, which operates ImaginePittsburgh.com. “These companies are hiring dynamic college graduates as well as attracting young professionals from around the country who’ve heard about Pittsburgh as next Brooklyn.”

The hope is that young journalists, podcasters and bloggers will share insights about career and lifestyle opportunities in the region with their readers, viewers, listeners and social media followers. Computer science students participated in a tour earlier this fall, because their skills are in especially high demand across all industry sectors and in nearly every company.

It can be hard for students to make time to explore beyond campus, and ImaginePittsburgh.com research indicates that even people who grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania are often unaware of the wealth of career opportunities right under their noses. Among the jobs in high demand across the 10-county region include information security analysts, software engineers, accountants, auditors, HR specialists, nurses, medical assistants, engineers and industrial technicians.

formal-group-shot-it-tour
In October, computer science students from Pittsburgh colleges toured regional employers with including UPMC Enterprises high up in the U.S. Steel building.

Pittsburgh is also a fun place to launch a career. The new Graduate Opportunity Index compiled by LinkedIn and Trulia ranked Pittsburgh as a top city for new entrants into the workforce because of its affordability and wealth of entry-level jobs and educated Millennials. The most recent tour broke for lunch at The Andy Warhol Museum – a destination for visitors from around the globe. Students got to mingle with young professionals who have chosen Pittsburgh about the career opportunities here, as well as and hear from Venture Outdoors staff about the wealth of outdoor recreation options here – including great skiing and snowboarding less than an hour’s drive from Oakland.