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From decadent sandwiches to mouthwatering spins on international classics, Pittsburgh is at the forefront of innovative and comforting cuisine. You don’t need to be a gourmand to visit, but be sure to come hungry as you won’t be leaving this city with an empty stomach!
When you’re in a city known for its elevated dining options, wholesome dishes and international flavours, you know you’re in for a treat. Pittsburgh is where East Coast grit meets Midwestern friendliness, and you’ll find a number of dishes served up here that play with influences from both sides of the divide.
There’s a buzzing craft beverage scene too, with breweries and distilleries offering local drinks just as Yinzers (proper local Pittsburghers) like it. The good news is that Pittsburgh is an eminently walkable city and you can work off some of the excess you might indulge in. Here’s a look at some unmissable highlights you have to try before you leave.
‘Burgh Bits & Bites Tours
Food tours like ‘Burgh Bits & Bites are one of the best ways to start when exploring a new city. You’ll get an insider’s take on the food scene and even get the chance to focus on specific neighbourhoods. These walking tours take you to historic districts that each have a unique selection to showcase the city as a place of surprising contrasts.
Head to Penn Avenue on the Strip District tour where you’ll get a chance to sample Italian pastries, European eats and cinnamon bread, or join the historic walking exploration of Lawrenceville, where blue-collar workers once enjoyed lasagne and Greek bites. There are a number of tours to choose from so all you have to do is pick the one that suits your palette best.
Wigle Whiskey and craft breweries
If you end up coming back to the Strip District, which was once a place of mills and factories, you’ll almost certainly spot Wigle Whiskey Distillery. It’s the most decorated craft distillery by the American Craft Spirits Association over the past decade and is only growing in reputation. One surprising fact we picked up here was that Pittsburgh was the birthplace of American Rye whiskey and one of its early pioneers was Phillip Wigle, who was famously pardoned by George Washington. Book a tour to find out more and obviously grab a sample or two, for research purposes, of course…
Craft breweries are a newer addition to the city, but are rapidly growing in popularity. There are some excellent local brews that work well with the hearty dishes you can enjoy here, and something that separates Pittsburgh from other microbrewery cities is the community environment these establishments foster. You will feel like you’re at your local pub and will inevitably end up staying for more than just a quick drink and a tour.
The best dishes to try in Pittsburgh
Right, time for the main course, and what a delicious course it is! The food scene in Pittsburgh boasts distinctive flavours that work year-round. Let’s start with the chunky Primanti Sandwich served at the Primanti’s chain across eastern US. Originating in Pittsburgh in 1933, this signature sandwich is a must-try. Consisting of Italian bread slices, coleslaw, melted cheese, a choice of meats and the special ingredient of hot french fries, it’s carb-heavy, but it is delicious!
There are great vegetarian options available throughout Pittsburgh if you’re looking for something else to try, and even the above sandwich would work well as a glorified chip butty! There’s clearly a love of french fries here as apparently an order of a Pittsburgh Salad means a healthy serving of fresh veggies topped off with fried potatoes. For a filling brunch, you’ll want to try Pamela’s Diner, where fluffy pancakes are the order of the day. They’ve clearly perfected the dish as each of the three locations in the city are usually packed every morning.
The refined setting of the Grand Concourse is a wonderful spot for a fancy date night where you can try some of the more sophisticated food the city has to offer. Make sure to go for the cheesecakes, which come in big slices covered in fruity drizzle. Highlighting the variety of options in Pittsburgh, Apteka is a vegan restaurant which specialises in Central and Eastern European cuisine with a veggie-twist.
Perogis from Eastern Europe are another dish you’ll find all over the city. These doughy filled dumplings are perfect for the colder seasons and will warm you up as quickly as they fill you up. Pepperoni rolls can trace their origins back to the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania. You’ll find these snacks everywhere and they can be picked up from food carts and stores too.
Over in Squirrel Hill, Chengdu Gourmet has garnered recognition from the James Beard Awards for Chef Wei Zhu’s take on American-Chinese family style dining. This is a popular spot with locals and the bold flavours on offer are in keeping with what you’ll find the tastebuds here are accustomed to.
With all these options, and plenty more if you decide to explore the city’s collection of cool neighbourhoods, you’ll never go hungry in Pittsburgh!
Looking to visit Pittsburgh from the UK? You can fly direct from London to Pittsburgh in just over 8 hours with British Airways. There are six flights weekly between London Heathrow (LHR) and Pittsburgh International (PIT) with return fares from £530.
Book now with British Airways britishairways.com/pittsburgh
Find out more about one of our favourite winter destinations in America: https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/