I have gotten a few messages recently asking me for recommendations of restaurants and things to do in Pittsburgh by people planning visits. I realized that somehow, in all my years of blogging, I’ve never written a post with all my Pittsburgh favorites. This isn’t going to be fully exhaustive, but will be a good starting point of restaurants, coffee shops, and things to do in Pittsburgh
Anthos is a new(ish) Greek cafe and bakery that has become one of my go-to spots for takeout. Their tiropita is so incredibly delicious, and I’ve now sampled a number of their pastries and loved them all! The croissant was roughly the size of my face. They also make a perfect macchiato. Anthos is in the South Hills, but worth a trip if you have a car, or a delivery order otherwise.
Bar Marco is in the Strip District, and has a two course prix fixe menu (for $45) that changes regularly. They do post a sample of their menu online, but it may differ slightly from what’s actually available. I’ve always been able to find something that I like from both courses, and the food is always incredible.
DiAnoia’s is in the Strip District and has delicious, authentic Italian food. The pastas are all made in house, and they have a whipped ricotta spread that is absurdly delicious. They are always busy, and it can be tricky to get a reservation, so make sure to book in advance, or be open to eating in the off hours.
I don’t know if this is actually true or not, but I think Meat & Potatoes kind of started the trend of good restaurants opening in downtown Pittsburgh. I don’t know that I’ve ever ordered anything bad off their menu! If you can get a reservation, it’s a great place to go before seeing a show downtown. And in the warmer months, I really love their patio.
Mola is my absolute favorite sushi in Pittsburgh – you absolutely cannot go wrong with anything on their menu. They’re one of the few places around here that has uni, and their torched salmon is melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The restaurant itself is TINY, so I highly recommend making a reservation or placing your order to go.
Morcilla is a Spanish restaurant in Lawrenceville – not Mexican, but authentically Spanish. It is pretty tiny, but it’s so good. I think the best way to experience the menu is to order a lot of small plates and share, but there are a few larger plates to choose from, too. Pittsburgh can be a little lacking in different types of cuisine, though it’s been getting better, and Morcilla is a standout.
Piccolo Forno is in Lawrenceville and is authentic Italian with great pastas. The space is pretty small and always packed, and can be hard to get a reservation, but it’s worth it! The crepe thin mushroom lasagna with a bechamel sauce is a constant in my dreams – it’s that good.
The Porch has two locations – one in Oakland, and one in the South Hills (suburbs). Both have great outdoor spaces (that the restaurant is named after!). The Oakland location was my go-to after-work happy hour spot for a long time! Their pizzas are great, I love the outdoor seating, and their entrees are always surprisingly good, too. But skip dessert here – it never lives up to the expectations, in my opinion.
Okay – Primanti’s is the place you go so that you can say you’ve been, because it’s a Pittsburgh legend. The whole thing about Primanti’s is that they put fries on their salads and their sandwiches. The food is pretty standard – think slightly more expansive than a bar menu – but it really is a Pittsburgh classic.
Pusadee’s Garden is in Lawrenceville and serves Thai food, but more of an upscale version. I actually haven’t been back since they did a major renovation, but at least online, both their indoor and outdoor spaces look great, and they have a full bar now. It can be really tricky to get a reservation here on a weekend night, so make sure to check 30 days in advance when reservations open.
Sally Ann’s is breakfast/lunch or brunch only – it closes at 3 pm – and is downtown. It’s casual, and a great place to stop for a snack and a drink – caffeinated or alcoholic. They don’t take reservations, and you order at the counter and then the food is brought out to you. They have a number of vegan and vegetarian options, too!
Senti is in Lawrenceville, and has delicious, authentic Italian food. The menu is pretty small, but it changes regularly, and all of the pasta is made in house and delicious. And the tiramisu!! It cannot be missed. Senti also has a cute little patio that I love to sit at when the weather cooperates.
The drinks at Adda are all great, and they have some fun, seasonal drinks that are different than you’d see at more chain-like coffee shops! I also just love the vibes of Adda – great place to hang out with friends or a book. Each month they also host a high tea, which I think is super cute.
This is probably the most chain-like of the coffee shops listed here, but it’s solid! The drinks are always good, and they have locations all throughout the city.
I really love Commonplace – they have a few different locations, but I’ve only been to the Squirrel Hill one. It’s a smaller menu, but the drinks are all great. I also love ordering beans and ground coffee from Commonplace for my at-home coffees.
DeFer is a coffee shop / wine bar / cafe, and one of the only spots in Pittsburgh with that variety! It’s in the Strip District, and it’s open later than the others in the area, which I appreciate. The menu is all so good, and they have some unique options, too.
I think Redhawk has more than one location, but I’ve been to the Oakland one only (they have a ramp for any fellow wheelchair users!). It’s one of the only non-Starbucks in the area, and definitely worth the few minutes longer wait for your drink. They even sell a cold brew in an actual bottle, and a drink flavored with real chocolate milk!
Things to Do
Visits to The Andy Warhol Museum are always so fun! The museum is in the North Shore of Pittsburgh (across a bridge from downtown), and have exhibits of Warhol’s art, along with collections that are Warhol-inspired in some way. The silver cloud room is my favorite. It’s an incredible museum and Pittsburgh is lucky to have it! The Warhol is also really conscious of accessibility and inclusivity in general.
The Aviary is on the North Side, and has birds, obviously, but also penguins and insects, too. The butterfly room is actually pretty cool – the butterflies are loose and fly around as you walk through! Probably best as a family friendly / kid friendly activity.
The Benedum is downtown, and it’s where all of the touring musicals visiting Pittsburgh make their stop. Sometimes, concerts or comedy shows will be here, too. If there’s a tour in town when you are, it’s such a fun activity.
These are the most “traditional” of Pittsburgh’s museums! They’re both in Oakland, and actually in the same building. You have everything you could think of – dinosaur bones, the Hall of Architecture, ancient Egypt, classic and modern art! There’s also now a cafe and coffee shop in the museum lobby.
Heinz Hall is downtown, and it’s where the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs. The PSO is incredible, and they’re usually not sold out – it’s a great way to spend an evening or afternoon. I especially love when they do fun shows, like when they’ll screen a movie and the symphony will play the score live at the same time. It’s so cool!
This is the hardest one to explain. I can’t really do a better job than Google explaining an incline, but it’s basically a single train car… than t you ride vertically, up a hill. Theoretically you can use them as transportation, but they’re also just a fun tourist activity if you’re in the city! I recommend starting at Mt. Washington for the views and then taking the incline down.
The Mattress Factory is the most contemporary of Pittsburgh’s museums! It’s located on the North Side, and has so many different cool exhibits – some long-term, and some that change every few months. It’s so unique!
Phipps is in Oakland, and is exactly what you’d think a botanical garden is – lots and lots of flowers and plants! It’s a great way to spend a few hours roaming and looking around. They have themed exhibits that change a few times each year, too.
The Zoo is out in Highland Park – there is a bus that goes there, but you probably want to drive if you’re visiting. It’s pretty big and you could spend probably half a day here! They’ve done some major expansions lately and it’s a really nice place to walk around and see the animals.