Food & Drink

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

Published On 08/09/2016 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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1. B52 5202 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Upper Lawrenceville)

A sleek Upper Lawrenceville spot, B52 is serving up flavors of the Mediterranean in the form of hummus, falafel, and kofta -- all of it scrumptious, all of it meat- and dairy- free. Vegans rejoice! The staff here is thoughtful with every ingredient in its repertoire, even creating hot chocolates and cortados at the coffee bar with house-made almond milks. A go-to here is the cashew cheese toast with preserves. Vegans and carnivores alike will be coming back for more.

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2. Randita's Organic Vegan Cafe 207 Commercial Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15215

This warm and inviting Aspinwall spot features a menu that, at first glance, will have you wondering how it calls itself an organic vegan cafe: it's full of items like hot sausage, chicken salad, and a reuben. But fear not, meat-free friends, these are just extremely convincing (and flavorful) fakes, using seitan, tofu, and other scrumptious substitutes. The true star here is the African Peanut Stew, a hearty bowl of slowly cooked sweet potatoes with a heavenly blend of spices.

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3. Apteka 4606 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (Bloomfield)

Polish cuisine and veganism are two concepts that don't normally jibe, but Bloomfield's Apteka makes it work. The plant-based Eastern European restaurant ditches the traditional meat stuffings of pierogi and cabbage for animal-friendly ingredients like sauerkraut, mushroom, buckwheat, and roasted vegetables. Expect a charmingly hippie feel in the dining room, where the staff are known to wave burning sage over the display of pickling jars.

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4. Eden 735 Copeland St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232 (Shadyside)

This Shadyside spot may look casual and unassuming, but just wait until your meal arrives: the team here is whipping up some of those most visually interesting menus in the city, focusing on raw and vegan cuisine. We're talking cashew cheese pierogies, raw lasagna, and raw vegan sorbet -- all of them brimming with flavor and color. You may be hesitant to even stab your fork into some of these works of art, but trust us, you'll want to taste these inventive dishes. Gluten-free fans will feel right at home here, too.

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5. Franktuary 3810 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Lower Lawrenceville)

You won't find any mystery meat at this hot doggery -- just natural-cased dogs, tofu dogs, and other meatless delights. Vegan chili, lentil sloppy Joes, and roasted grain sausage are all on the menu here, assuring even the meat-free among us can indulge in some American classics. Franktuary is also cooking up a small Sunday brunch menu featuring a waffle sandwich -- sausage and egg nestled between thick waffles -- that is truly a revelation.

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6. Liliput Coffee & Cafe 477 Melwood Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Liliput Coffee & Cafe is the brainchild of Onion Maiden (mobile, punk-rock vegan food purveyors) and Lili Cafe of Polish Hill (you should check this spot out too), who all teamed up to serve scrumptious sandwiches, salads, and breakfast out of Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Everything on the menu, including the tasty waffles, are meat- and dairy- free. It's a little off the beaten path, but trust us, you'll want to venture here for the vegan banh mi with tofu and vegenaise.

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7. Spak Brothers Pizza and More 5107 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (Garfield)

This Garfield pizza joint is a crowd-pleaser with its many vegan options -- plus plenty of choices for carnivores. Slices are bubbly and big enough to fold, andare served on pieces of wax paper. On most nights, a line snakes through the shop, and punk or metal music blasts through the speakers. Bring along some coins to play the restaurant’s vintage pinball machines while you wait for slice after addictive slice.

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8. The Zenith 86 S 26th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Zenith is an eclectic antique haven and vegan eatery. Sunday brunch dishes are constantly changing, but the formula is always the same: your meal includes an entrée, a coffee, and -- wait for it -- a buffet! The buffet features scrumptious side dishes like noodle salads and greens, plus a wondrous cake table filled with sweets. You'll walk out with a stomach full of treats and hands full of ceramic teapots and macrame owls.

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9. 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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10. Brillobox 4104 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (Bloomfield)

This bar and club takes its name from one of Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol's favorite subject matter, so its interior is sufficiently arty and the clientele cool and hip. Come for the happy hour deals on tasty vegetarian grub and cocktails, stay for the DJ dance parties and live indie electronica.