Food & Drink

Pittsburgh's Vegetarian- and Vegan-Friendly Restaurants That We Love

Published On 08/09/2016

B52

Lawrenceville

B52 offers a taste of the Mediterranean with the likes of hummus, falafel, and kofta, all meat- and dairy-free. Even the coffee bar uses house-made almond milks to create its hot chocolates and cortados. The kitchen staff is simply masterful with ingredients. Try the cashew cheese toast with preserves and just try not to dream about it nightly. You will fail.

Randita’s

Aspinwall

With menu items like hot sausage, chicken salad, and reuben, you’d think, "this can’t possibly be a vegan joint." Wrong. Using seitan, tofu, and more plant-based substitutes, Randita’s creates pretty convincing fakes. The real highlight here is the African Peanut Stew, a hearty bowl of slowly cooked sweet potatoes with a heavenly blend of spices.

Apteka

Apteka

Bloomfield

Can pierogies without cheese be the best in Pittsburgh? Yes, thanks to Apteka. The all-vegan Eastern European spot proves that dairy or meat is not required for greatness. The smoked parsnip or the sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi further prove this point (and make a real case that love is real). Don’t forget to stop back after 10pm for the late night menu -- the veggie burger is the best in the city.

Eden

Eden

Shadyside

The first place in the ‘Burgh to commit to the idea of raw vegan fare way back in 2011, Eden is a creative meal haven. Vegetables and nuts are used in ways that might have you scratching your head but stuffing your face. Fancy a slice of raw lasagna? How about a raw vegan sorbet? The answer should be yes, you coward, and you can find it at Eden. Perhaps this is how Adam and Eve did it before the creation of fire.

Megan Lindsey

Franktuary

Lawrenceville

We know, we know: hot dogs are usually associated with mystery meat blends and 'pink slime.' Not at Franktuary, where alongside natural-cased dogs, it's serving tofu dogs and other meatless treats. Vegan chili, lentil sloppy Joes, and roasted grain sausage are all on offer so you can indulge in classic, guilt-free American fare.

Laura Zorch/Thrillist

Liliput Coffee & Cafe

Oakland

Onion Maiden (mobile, hardcore vegan food purveyors) and Lili Cafe of Polish Hill (also worth a visit) formed a magical alliance to serve lunch, breakfast, and early dinners out of Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The location is a touch off the beaten path, but the vegan banh mi with tofu and vegenaise make it worth the trek. Enjoy soup, sandwiches, salads, and even waffles animal-free.

Laura Zorch/Thrillist

Spak Brothers

Garfield

There are hoagies and then there are the seitan melts at Spak. Order a 6in or a 12in with barbecue or Buffalo sauce and cheese. Proceed to high five everyone around you for making the correct life decisions. Spak also offers vegan pizza toppings, seitan wings, and a shaved seitan cheesesteak that you can't go wrong in ordering.

Laura Zorch/Thrillist

The Zenith

South Side

Part antique store, part restaurant, The Zenith is the truly most unique place to chow down in Pittsburgh. While primarily vegan, you can get cheese (and eggs at brunch!) if you want to go the lacto (-ovo) route. The weekend brunch is particularly epic with a buffet of noodle salads, greens, and cakes. You’ll leave with a full tummy and maybe a macrame owl.

El Burro

Northside

This spot boasts a separate vegan and vegetarian menu for all of the taco and burrito lovers. Chile relleno burrito, vegan chorizo, potato tacos, and now seitan tacos... it’s all here, and it is all the shit. Look out for rotating vegan specials -- there's always a new reason to come back.

brillobox

Brillobox

Lawrenceville

Brillobox always features vegetarian fare on its standard menu, but the best time to visit is for Starving Artist Sundays. For all of $7, you get to eat whatever the chef is prepping for dinner. In the past, we've seen the likes of chana masala, oyster mushroom po-boys, and adobo tofu burritos. Who needs meatless Mondays? We’ll take meatless Sundays.

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Food & Drink

Pittsburgh's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
P
ittsburgh takes its culinary clues from no one. The chefs and restaurateurs leading this city have their own, hard-won sense of what will work in this town, and the best new restaurants to open this year -- from a seafood and chop house to a French brasserie -- have forged their own path to offer something unique to Pittsburgh’s hungry masses.
With dozens of new restaurants opening each year in the city, it can be hard to make a lasting impression. As Pittsburgh gets more national attention, and more chefs are finding financial means to open their own brick-and-mortars, diners have more choices than ever on where to spend their dollars. These five new establishments have each had a big impact on Pittsburgh’s culinary landscape in the short time that they’ve been open, and are our picks for the best new restaurants of the year.
Ki Ramen PGH

Ki Ramen

Lawrenceville

Bustling ramen restaurant known for from-scratch noodles
Chef Roger Li has been busy. Last year, he opened Umami, a Japanese-style gastropub (and one of our best new restaurants of 2016), and this year, he (along with fellow Lawrenceville restaurateur Domenic Branduzzi) debuted two new concepts: Ki Pollo, the just-opened fast-casual restaurant offering Korean-style fried chicken and empanadas, and Ki Ramen, a from-scratch ramen restaurant, which has quickly become a go-to for those of us who lamented the lack of quality ramen in the city. At Ki Ramen, Branduzzi is charged with preparing the noodles that are cut daily using a Japanese-made noodle machine, adding weight and substance to Li’s delicate, delicious broths. The menu has evolved over time, and includes a vegetarian curry ramen and shoyu ramen, served with soy-braised chicken and an onsen (sous vide) egg. The restaurant has also recently added house-made bao to the menu, with fillings (miso eggplant and roast duck are two recent favorites) that change daily.

Union Standard

Downtown

Buzzy downtown spot offering a modern take on Northeast American cuisine
Since opening earlier this year, Derek Stevens’ Union Standard has given Downtown a sorely needed after-work option, elegant enough to take out-of-town clients yet casual enough for happy hour drinks with friends. The beautifully designed restaurant was part of a $100 million renovation to the historic Union Trust Building, and offers a lively, modern bar area downstairs, and a cozy, intimate upstairs dining room. The menu merges Northeastern American coastal cuisine with heartier dishes made on the wood-fired rotisserie and grill, and Stevens also offers an incredible raw bar, serving shellfish and seafood from all the usual Northeast spots -- Massachusetts, Chesapeake and Maine are typically represented. Although the menu changes frequently, it tends to lean toward traditional steak-and-seafood house fare, including a flawlessly-prepared rib-eye and a salmon dish that’s brightened with dill gnocchetti and hazelnut brown butter. You’ll also find one of the best bar snack menus in the city here, with elevated takes on classic offerings including duck fat popcorn (made with Anson Mills heirloom flint corn) and smelts (fried and served crispy with a smoked pepper remoulade).

Dustin Wickett

Bar Frenchman

East Liberty

Upscale French brasserie serving classic European dishes  
The Twisted Frenchman has been a top-ranked restaurant in Pittsburgh since opening in 2015, so when chef/owner Andrew Garbarino announced earlier this year that he was introducing a new upscale French bistro concept, we were stoked. Bar Frenchman has since lived up to the high standards set by the Twisted Frenchman, serving perfectly-executed French classics like escargot with mushroom ragout, ratatouille, mussels & frites, and the best foie gras to be found in the city. The elegant bar also serves a killer cocktail, with a menu that features twists on classics (the Boukman daiquiri with white rum, cognac, lime and cinnamon is a favorite), along with an extended list of Champagne cocktails.

Superior Motors

Braddock

Community-driven, hyper-local restaurant in Braddock with a focus on seasonality  
It’s impossible to over-emphasize how highly anticipated Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors was for the Pittsburgh dining community. Not only was it one of the highest-grossing restaurant Kickstarter campaigns ever, but Sousa (who dazzled diners at Salt of the Earth and Union Pig & Chicken) has a well-earned reputation as one of the city’s leading culinary forces, and while the wait was long -- more than three years between the initial Kickstarter campaign and opening night -- it was worth it. The community-focused restaurant in Braddock is now open seven days a week, serving a seasonal, locally sourced menu, with produce primarily coming from nearby Braddock Farms. The dessert menu is a particular standout, with complex pairings (chocolate matcha cake with mushroom, sourdough pound cake with fresh corn cream) ending each meal on a decidedly sweet note.

or, The Whale

Downtown

An elegant seafood and chop house known for customer attention  
Downtown’s new Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh is now home to or, The Whale, an ambitious restaurant led by chef Dennis Marron, who’s pulling double duty on the restaurant-opening front as his Merchant Oyster Company also recently opened in Lawrenceville. Housed in what used to be the gym and track area of the historic Salvation Army building, or, The Whale is a beautifully designed gem, with an upstairs bar and lounge, and an impressive dining room that features a butcher room, a private wine cellar, and an open kitchen, featuring a wood-burning hearth and a pastry room (all the better for pastry chef Jessica Lewis to make her delightful desserts). The menu offers an eclectic take on seafood and chophouse standards, with dry-aged steaks sharing space with linguine and cockles (served in a lightly seasoned garlic herb sauce), and a ground duck burger topped with seared foie gras. A separate bar, called Evangeline, adds to the experience, serving coffee during the day, and cocktails and raw bar offerings at night.

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