On a recent trip, we spent 48 hours in Pittsburgh, PA. Our expectations for the Steel City were low, but after our short time there we will definitely be coming back. The reputation of Pittsburgh is that it’s a working class city, which is most definitely true. But, this working class city has a thriving food and brewery scene.
Everyone has heard of Brazilian barbecue, but their neighbors to the south are the true masters of meat. Argentina is known for their wood fire method– cooking delicious meats over a wood-fired oven. This is pretty rare to find in the U.S. and the extra effort shines through. The steaks at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina are next-level tender, exploding with flavor and that distinct wood-fire finish to them. The con pan (sandwiches) stole the show for us. Served on a fresh ciabatta, it was the perfect vessel to hold all of the juices from the steak. We love to keep it saucy here, and when they brought over a tray of four house made sauces– you know we were dunking. The chimichurri was refreshing, and was the “ying” to our steaks “yang.” The rosemary raised beef was like carnitas on steroids. It had serious flavor to it. The caramelized onions and horseradish sauce created the perfect trifecta of sweet, salty, and spicy.
Everyone we talked to in Pittsburgh told us about the Strip District. This older area of the city was once filled with factories, but these huge buildings have been repurposed to restaurants, bars, breweries, and distilleries, creating a food lover’s heaven. Along with all of these storefronts was a bunch of Asian street food stands which we definitely weren’t expecting.
Best Strip District Eats:
Although we only scratched the surface of the Strip District, here are a few of our favorites:
Located inside of Wholey’s Market is energetic Andy. He puts on a show in his sushi cart as he makes your rolls to order. Being landlocked, we weren’t sure what to expect for seafood, but Andy’s delivered. This was some of the best sushi we have ever had– and the rolls were packed with fish (there was no skimping here). The fish itself was buttery A.F. and melted in our mouths. A perfect stop along the street of the Strip District.
In our experience, when there are two old ladies running a kitchen, the food will probably be authentic and delicious.
Sambok Korean Groceries has exactly that. With $1 dumplings and mung pancakes, this is some ideal street food to eat on-the-go. For those who might be saying “WTF are mung bean pancakes?” they are not the typical buttermilk pancakes that you are getting at brunch. They are similar to a scallion pancake or latkes. Salty and spicy, they are the perfect food for a hangover.
The night before we visited, we had Cinderlands on tap. It was then when we knew we had to go straight to the source. Their beer is in the upper echelon of breweries. We are talking up there with the heavy hitters out in the Northeast like Trillium, Vitamin Sea, and Tree House. Their IPAs are juicy as can be, and their fruited sours are complex, yet bring all of the flavors they promise. One thing we weren’t expecting when we got there was some of the best brewery food we have ever had as well. We were like kids in a candy shop at Cinderlands. as they had all of the best bar games including shuffleboard and foosball (two personal favorites).
On the top floor, you get a bird’s-eye view of where the magic happens. We were there on a football Sunday, so we sat down at the bar and started to sample the menu. Squish is their flagship, and is refreshing and fruit-forward with just a bit of hoppiness. Full Squish, their souped up version, brings that pillowy mouth feel that we crave in a double IPA. It can truly stand up with the best juice bombs out there. Their pancake galaxy series are fruited sours with a maple base. We had the blueberry one, and yes, it was like drinking blueberry pancakes.
And although we spent all afternoon eating our way through the Strip District, we couldn’t help but try the buffalo chicken dip with homemade cool ranch Doritos chips. The smoked chicken was as moist as could be and we got huge chunks in the dip. The chips were if a gourmet chef was asked to replicate cool ranch Doritos. *Verbal meme of Winnie the Pooh sitting down: Doritos, Winnie the Pooh in a tux with a furrowed brow.*
The second brewery we checked out was Insurrection AleWorks. This was only their tap house, but we got to enjoy some delicious brews. Their sour game was strong, and we enjoyed a guava sour that made us pucker in the best way possible. They also had a solid line-up of IPAs that had a West Coast hoppy vibe to them.
Our trip to Pittsburgh blew our minds and we can’t wait to go back!
We are now armed with a plethora of recommendations for our loyal followers. Do yourself a favor and check out the Steel City. You will not be disappointed!