10 Pittsburgh Restaurants You Must Try This February

It’s almost February, which means you can finally acknowledge that your New Year’s resolution to eat better was destined for failure. If you’re a foodie like me, you can’t even fathom setting that goal for yourself. This month, I’m embracing my last few months in Pittsburgh by going out with a bang, food style. With Zagat’s Top Food City of 2015 ranking under our belt, you must check out these hot restaurants in the ‘burgh. With a mix of old classics and new hotspots, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to satisfy your taste buds this February!

1. Täkō


I have one piece of advice for you: get on the phone and call for a reservation now. After many failed attempts to get a reservation before 9:30 p.m., I finally found one for 8 p.m. My sister and I were indecisive about the queso with chorizo and shishito peppers; it was served with warm tortillas instead of chips, but the waitress let us order it with chips like we wanted. I have never had a queso so rich and flavorful. If you can take one lesson away from this article, it’s that you must order the queso! 


The carnitas tacos with guacamole, salsa verde, chicharrones and cilantro were absolutely delicious. From what I’ve heard, all the tacos are delicious (especially the duck tacos, featured above). To top it off, choosing from the extensive list of margaritas was the most difficult choice of all. For anyone of age, I recommend the spicy passionfruit margarita. 

2. Coca Café


If you’re on the hunt for the perfect brunch place, stop your search now and head to Lawrenceville. While they have a breakfast menu daily, the Sunday brunch menu features 5-6 specials as well as popular items from the breakfast menu. The specialty donut was to die for, and you can’t go wrong with the delicious French toast stuffed with herbed goat cheese, pictured above. If you’ve never had shakshuka (above), I would consider trying it if you’re in the mood for the lunch aspect of brunch. Between their specialty coffees and the array of specials, you’ll be ready to plan your next visit. 

3. Smoke BBQ Taqueria


After I decided to shop around Lawrenceville last semester, I walked by Smoke and decided to give it a try. The mac n’ cheese caught my eye as it exited the kitchen, but I was dining alone, so I passed. The tacos come in a wide variety of meats including pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, chorizo and more. Can you really ever go wrong with some mac and tacos?


4. Gaucho Parilla Argentina


While I have yet to go, there is quite the buzz surrounding Gaucho Parilla. The steak burger is supposedly to die for, and the menu features a variety of flavorful meats, including their asado plate of five different cuts of beef.

5. Franktuary


Also located in Lawrenceville, Franktuary serves kosher hotdogs with a variety of toppings. Not in the mood for a hotdog? Try their kielbasa sausage. If you’re a true yinzer, try the Pittsburgh dog with pierogies and vinegar slaw. If you’re like me, order something different. Either way, get a side of sweet potato fries and garlic aioli!

6. Peanut Butter Jelly Time


Recently opened, Peanut Butter Jelly Time is our childhood dreams come true in a restaurant. Specializing in all things PB&J, the Bloomfield shop boasts a twist on classic sandwiches as well as waffles with PB&J, and not to mention PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SUSHI. Yes, you read that right. This place is a must-have for a cheap lunch.


7. Union Pig and Chicken 


This one makes the list as per one of my HC member’s requests. While I’m still working my way down my food bucket list, Union Pig and Chicken is the perfect spot for any meat lover. Their brisket, pulled chicken and pork sandwiches are loaded with toppings. Make sure to save room for a bourbon chocolate chip cookie or pie-in-a-jar for dessert.

8. The Dor-Stop 


Located right outside the city in Dormont, this adorable breakfast place will give you all the home cooked feels. The menu is similar to that of a diner and hosts a variety of breakfast dishes. If you wake up with a sweet tooth, try their specialty cakes and get a side of the chorizo for an extra hint of spice. Just ask my dad; when we went last year, I used the “five second rule” after my chorizo fell on the floor because it was too good to waste. Oh, the things we’ll do for our food.

9. The Vandal 


If you know Melodi, the Vice President of HC Pitt, then you know that she loves The Vandal. Located in Lawrenceville, The Vandal serves a variety of toasts that are perfect for brunch. While their menu is small, the roast pork sandwich with apple mostarda, swiss and Dijon on rye is calling your name for lunch. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the eclectic Arsenal Bowling next door for some late evening bowling!

10. Il Pizzaiolo


While no pizza place in Pittsburgh can satisfy my demanding New Yorker pizza needs, Il Pizzaiolo was a game changer on my quest for decent pizza in the ‘burgh. The restaurant in Market Square cooks their pizzas to perfection in a wood-fired oven. If you don’t order the Margherita DOC and the Prosciutto e Arugula pies, you are missing out. Just do yourself a favor and trust the New Yorker.


Photo Credit: Author’s own photos, HC Pitt writer’s @hungrygrl_bigcity Instagram, Smoke BBQ Taqueria, Gaucho Parilla Argentina, Peanut Butter Jelly Time Union Pig and Chicken, Dor-Stop.