Food & Drink

The Best Lunch Spot in 13 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

Published On 11/10/2015 Published On 11/10/2015
Adam Milliron/Courtesy of Bluebird Kitchen (edited)

Let’s make a pact: no more sad desk lunch. Step away from your desk at lunchtime and stop by one of these 13 lunch spots in Pittsburgh instead -- there ought to be one in or near your neighborhood. And for the spots that aren’t in your area, take a trip, drive away from the office, work can wait. Trust us.

Downtown

Bluebird Kitchen

Address and Info

Bluebird Kitchen’s menu offers creative takes on sandwiches, salads, soups, and veggies. The tuna nicoise and house roast turkey sandwich (brined and served with shallot-bacon jam) are classics. Side dishes, changing daily, are worthy of being turned into meals themselves -- think quinoa, chickpeas, roasted beets, and pastas. Open on weekdays only, Bluebird is coveted by Downtown workers, meaning lunch-hour lines form early (pro tip: beat the Market Square crowds by stopping by the restaurant’s Stanwix St location).

Courtesy of BRGR

East Liberty

BRGR

Address and Info

Sometimes you just need to step away from the office and stifle your work sorrows with a giant burger. BRGR is here to help. Its burgers blend Angus chuck, sirloin, New York strip, and ribeye into one hefty sandwich, making it one of the city’s finest burgers.

Highland Park

Park Bruges

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Echoing the feel of a European bistro, lunch at Park Bruges is like stepping away from Pittsburgh for an hour. The restaurant is known for its moules-frites -- mussels served with Bruges frites. And with three cheeses and a bit of a spicy kick, Park Bruges’ macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.

Rossilynne Culgan/Thrillist

Lawrenceville

The Vandal

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This bright new restaurant on Butler St in Lawrenceville is a true lunchtime escape. The roast pork with apple mostarda, Swiss, and Dijon makes for a standout sandwich, especially when paired with a part-sweet, part-tart vanilla lemonade.

Mt. Washington

Shiloh Grill

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In the summertime, Shiloh Grill’s deck is lunch-hour paradise. Even in cold weather, come here for the large menu featuring everything from tacos (fish, jerk chicken, or short rib) to turkey burgers with stuffing and cranberries. It’s easily accessible for Mt. Washington and Station Square workers.

El Burro

North Side

El Burro

Address and Info

Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and the most gratifying guac, plus vegetarian and vegan options. Seating inside is limited, so order it to go and eat in Allegheny Commons Park across the street.

Courtesy of Conflict Kitchen

Oakland

Conflict Kitchen

Address and Info

This takeout shop serves food inspired by countries with which the United States is in conflict. The menu rotates, focusing on a different country regularly. Recent iterations have included menus based on Cuba, Afghanistan, and North Korea. At Conflict Kitchen, lunch is served with a side of dialogue about cultures and countries.

Square Cafe

Regent Square

Square Cafe

Address and Info

The range of selections at Square Cafe is so vast, you can choose the healthy route (kale and quinoa salad or the Square protein breakfast) or decide to treat yourself (Nutella crepes). Breakfast items are served all day, so, yes, you can gorge on some cinnamon swirl pancakes at noon.

Shadyside

Noodlehead

Address and Info

Noodlehead specializes in Thai noodle dishes, like street noodles, kee mao, see yew, and pad Thai in a low-key, industrial space not far from Bakery Square.

South Side

South Side

Amazing Cafe

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For an ultra-healthy -- and ultra-Zen -- lunch, Amazing Cafe is the spot for leafy salads, buddha burgers, peace pizza, and smoothies. The acai bowl is both beautiful (great opportunity for an #eatclean Instagram here) and delicious with acai puree, banana, raspberry, buckwheat, granola, dried fruit, coconut, and vanilla.

Squirrel Hill

Uncle Sam’s Sandwich Bar

Address and Info

This no-frills sandwich shop specializes in jumbo hoagies, like the Loaded Italian Sub and the Sam’s Buffalo Chicken Sub with plenty of melty provolone, Buffalo sauce, and of course, ranch dressing. It’s located in Squirrel Hill’s business district, not far from the Parkway if you don’t work nearby.

Penn Avenue Fish Company

Strip District

Penn Avenue Fish Company

Address and Info

The freshest fish served in every imaginable preparation -- sandwiches, tacos, pizza, sliders, salads, and soups. Also on the table for lunch: mussels, crab cakes, and sushi -- the sushi is renowned here.

Angela Rose Photography/Courtesy of Blue Line Grille

Uptown

Blue Line Grille

Address and Info

Sitting across from Consol Energy Center, it’s only fitting that Blue Line Grille channels a sports bar vibe. Think classic bar food, like fried wings, with some more upscale options, like mahi mahi cakes.

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Rossilynne S. Culgan is a Pittsburgh native who needs to follow her own advice about foregoing sad desk lunch. Follow her and remind her to uphold the pact: @rossilynne.

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1. Bluebird Kitchen 221 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Bluebird is more than sandwiches, but the sandwiches at this breakfast and lunch spot are beyond the beyond. The Croque Monsieur, a ham sandwich on brioche covered in béchamel sauce, takes your mouth to France, without the airfare. The House Roast Beef on ciabatta is also on point and worth the inevitable lunch line. For the vegans among you, the seitan taco is a must.

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2. BRGR 5997 Penn Circle S, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 (East Liberty)

BRGR's mouthwatering burgers are a handcrafted blend of Angus, chuck, ribeye and New York Strip (unless you opt for kobe beef or salmon instead). The best of the best is the Shrooms Burger, with forest mushrooms, caramelized onions, brie cheese and mustard aioli, but the Cease and Desist in all its thousand-island glory is a serious contender for the best burger in all of Pittsburgh. You can wash either (or both, no judgement) down with an adult root beer float made with root liqueur, local seltzer and vanilla bean.

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3. Park Bruges 5801 Bryant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 (Highland Park)

This place offers Belgian cuisines dishes like poutine and mussels that come in a green curry, basil, & cilantro sauce with a side of frites. They also offer really unique items for brunch like their Belgian waffles with topping choices like strawberry pina colada and mango-pineapple.

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4. The Vandal 4306 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Central Lawrenceville)

The motto here is “hang out or take out,” and the spot offers gourmet food in a casual setting for a low-key brunch (think: yogurt and avocado toast), lunch (sandwiches and burgers), and dinner (fried chicken).

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5. Shiloh Grill 123 Shiloh St, Pittsburgh, PA 15211 (Mount Washington)

Shiloh Grill has an incredible city view, and Tuesday's are Bacon Night which means baskets of bacon are only $1 at table seats and free at bar seats.

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6. El Burro 1108 Federal St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (Northside)

This tiny and hip Mexican spot serves up tacos, burritos, and all the flavorful favorites you love. From starters like chips and salsa to side dishes like the beloved carne asada fries to mains like the chorizo burrito, the lineup here is brimming with fresh, colorful options. El Burro even boasts a separate, rotating vegan menu, proving quality Mexican food doesn't have to be loaded with meat and cheese. It features a Chile relleno burrito, vegan chorizo, potato tacos, and seitan tacos.

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7. Conflict Kitchen 221 Schenley Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (Central Oakland)

This tiny take-out restaurant not only serves up delicious foods from all over the world, they serve a message in the process. Lots of dishes here are Cuban inspired, and they go heavy with the pork while educating you on food packaging in Cuba. It's an educational meal.

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8. Square Cafe 1137 S Braddock Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15218 (Regent Square)

Colorful and quirky, the Square Cafe space is a little ray of sunshine in Regent Square. The super-popular spot boasts interesting menu choices like tofu hash and cornmeal pancakes, and keeps thirsts at bay with coffee in square mugs and killer milkshakes. On the 10 warm days per year in the city (just kidding, Pittsburgh has at least 11 nice days), tables spill out onto the sidewalk for outdoor dining.

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9. Noodlehead 242 S Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 (Shadyside)

Serving delicious Thai food in a dimly lit restaurant with modern decor, this place is great for dates or group dinners. When you go try the Chiang Mai curry and the street noodles.

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10. Amazing Cafe 1506 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side Flats)

Located inside a yoga studio, this little cafe serves acai bowls with tons of toppings to choose from, smoothies, salads, and other light, healthy menu items.

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11. Uncle Sam's Subs 210 Oakland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (Squirrel Hill North)

This sandwich shop makes fresh sub sandwiches and instead of chips, they give you french fries as a side. They even have a good selection of vegetarian subs to choose from.

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12. Penn Ave Fish Company 2208 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (Strip District)

This little spot serves some of the freshest sushi in the area. They also serve fresh oysters, fish tacos, and fish sandwiches. You can't go wrong with anything you order here. They also run good lunch specials where you can get good deals on sushi rolls.

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13. Blue Line Grille 1014 5th Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

A great spot to watch the hockey game in this pro-Penguins environment. Even if you don't like the Penguins, with 27 TV's you can be sure to catch any of your favorite hockey teams while devouring a burger and poutine fries from here.

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