The idea for this list came to me while I was at the “offal night” at Legume. I also figured it would make a good piece for the annual exercise in end of year top ten lists. Well, so much for that. My personal criteria for the items on this list was a combination of “unique to Pittsburgh”, “personal favorite”, and simply “really good food” in about equal parts. I did also try to avoid things everyone already knows about, hence the lack of an entry for Primanti’s. Sorry. Anyway, here is the list.
Chili and Cheese Beef Dog at the O. With onions.
Not much more to say about this. I think this is the best hot dog of its type anywhere.
General Tso’s Chicken at Zaw’s
Zaw’s is the only restaurant where I will order this dish. Their sauce is perfect. The pieces of chicken are fresh and breaded/fried to order instead of being little frozen chunks of rubber.
Taiwanese Chunk Chicken, Rose Tea Cafe
I have been ridiculed for saying that this is the best “Thai Food” in Pittsburgh. I don’t care. I see no reason to go to any number of mediocre Thai places in the city rather than just getting this.
Veal Cheeks plus Chocolate Cake for Dessert, Legume
I have mentioned this already. The best slow cooked meat I’ve ever had in Pittsburgh. Also, the only flourless chocolate cake I will eat. Simply excellent.
Bacon and Egg Pizza, Dinette
Dinette changes its pizzas around a lot, but anytime there is one with lardons and eggs, you have to get it. In my view, best evidence yet that there is a god is the fact that the egg and the pizza crust both take the same amount of time to become perfectly cooked.
Cortado or Hand Pour Coffee, 21st street coffee
The Cortado is the most perfectly balanced espresso drink that I’ve yet had. In addition, the hand drip coffee that 21st street has been doing is consistently better than any other brewed coffee anywhere. In fact it will make you question why you buy drip coffee anywhere else.
Lasagna, Piccolo Forno
Hand made noodles, awesome bechamel sauce, and the portion is enough to feed a small football team. Pete still thinks this is wrong but I don’t care.
Grilled Sardines, Dish
I’ll say it again: grilled sardines at Dish. The braised onions on the side make this dish. Their mango cake is also to die for.
Grilled Cheese Sandiwch, Kelly’s Bar
The canonically perfect grilled cheese. Absolutely balanced. Perfectly prepared.
Soup and Sushi, Penn Avenue Fish Market
This is especially yummy as a late breakfast. I suggest the Ronnie Roll as your sushi. Also particularly excellent when they have good oysters.
Honorable mentions Bacon and eggs appetizer at spoon, the cheeseburgers at Tessaro’s, the French pastry at Chatellier’s in Millvale, the “Filthy-a-delphia” burger at BRGR (along with a Dude Abides shake), the Mexican hot chocolate at Mon Aimee, Uncle Sam’s ultra cheesesteak, and the ma po tofu at the New How Lee.