So you have chosen to attend college in Pittsburgh, congratulations! One of the biggest adjustments of transitioning from a high school to a college campus is trying to familiarize yourself with the campus and the surrounding area. After going to classes for a few days however, you will start to memorize your daily trek from class to class like the back of your hand. And while going to class and knowing how to get there is important, there is something else that may be equally as important to know how to get to- FOOD! Sometimes dining hall food just does not cut it, so as a Pittsburgh native, I am going to list for you 10 of the best places to eat in Pittsburgh!
1. Primanti Brothers — 3803 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213
While Oakland is not its original location, Primanti’s is one of the most notable restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. The largest section of the menu is their sandwiches, each topped with French fries, a mound of coleslaw, and tomatoes, which is the signature combo that the restaurant is known for. With over 20 different sandwiches, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
2. Pamela’s Diner — 3703 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213
This cash-only breakfast spot is definitely worth waking up before lunchtime. Offering a variety of breakfast foods including all the classics like sausage, bacon, toast, potatoes and omelets, their hotcakes are their most-liked menu item. Soft and cakey on the inside and thin and crispy on the outside, these hotcakes, available in a variety of flavors, steal the show at Pamela’s.
3. Hemingway’s — 3911 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Named the “Best College Bar” by the Pittsburgh City Paper, students flock to Hem’s for more than just their variety of drinks. Located within steps of the Litchfield Towers, it is a convenient place to meet with friends and have a bite to eat. With the lunch time half-off food happy hour from 11AM-12PM, you can score some major deals on burgers, wraps, wings, salads, fries and pizza, without having to worry about being too far from your dorm.
4. Hot Metal Diner — 1029 Lebanon Road West Mifflin, PA 15122
Another breakfast place in the Pittsburgh area, this one is not for the faint of heart. With a 70’s diner feel and the attitude to match, the décor mixed with the great food create a relaxed atmosphere that’s great for both friends and family. They have a lot of breakfast combos available so you can customize your meal to your liking. I recommend the steak and eggs, which always hits the spot.
5. Yokoso Japanese Steakhouse — 153 East Bridge Street Homestead, PA 15120
This is a classic hibachi experience where a chef cooks your food at the grill table right in front of your eyes. All the chefs have great personalities which is fun to experience while you chow down on delicious Japanese style soup, salad, fried rice, vegetables and your choice of protein. For the adventurous types, opt for the Hibachi Triple Combo, which includes all the aforementioned as well as shrimp, steak AND chicken as your protein of choice. Their menu also includes a wide range of sushi, as well as a full bar. Trust me, you will not leave this place hungry!
6. Burgatory — 299 West Bridge Street West Homestead, PA 15120
With its name being a play on words of “Purgatory” and burgers, you know this place is going to be good just looking at it. With several burger combos already on the menu, you have the option to create your own burger, fully customizing what bread, spice rub, sauce, meat and toppings you want! Each burger comes with their house chips, or you can sub in their French fries for an additional cost. While burgers are part of their namesake, you MUST get a “heavenly” shake with your burger! Caramel pretzel, coffee and donuts, and campfire s’mores (my personal favorite) are just a few flavors, not to mention that you get what’s in your glass PLUS all the extra they blended up for you!
7. The Original Hot Dog Shop — 3901 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213
As implied by its name, this is one of the best and most known places in Pittsburgh to grab a hotdog. However, The O has much more than just hotdogs, but also burgers, pizzas, sub sandwiches, fish, and their equally famous fries. The fries literally come in a mountain, but they are so delicious that you will probably eat them all before you leave anyway. Dowse them in cheese and gravy and you’re one step closer to becoming a true yinzer.
8. Wholey’s Fish Market — 1711 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222
This well-known Pittsburgh seafood place is more than just a restaurant; it is also a store! So go ahead and order yourself a fish or a soft shell crab sandwich or maybe some lobster mac and cheese, then stop in the shop and grab some fresh fish, shrimp, or lobster to take home for later. They almost always have deals, so even us college kids can afford to indulge every once in a while.
9. Fat Head's Saloon — 1805 East Carson Street Pittsburgh, PA 15203
This place has everything you could ever want on a good lunch or dinner menu: burgers, wings, salads, soups and headwiches. Yes, you read that right, HEADwiches… sandwiches that are as big as your head. With more than a dozen to chose from, each named with an appropriate pun, you’ll find yourself coming back to try them all.
10. Hello Bistro — 3605 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Another spot within walking distance from your closet of a bedroom, this friendly places serves a variety of burgers, sandwiches, and Eat’n Park soups, but its main focus is salads. Sure, they have a menu with their house salads, like the chicken primavera salad and the Quinoavocado (that’s KEEN-WAH-VO-CADO), but they have an extensive salad bar where you get to create your own salad exactly how you want it. And here’s the kicker, they’re one set price! That’s right, add all the toppings you want and you don’t have to worry about going over your budget. And hey, maybe you’ll feel a little bit healthier in the process… you know, before you drench all those veggies in Eat’n Park ranch.
(Bonus) The Potato Patch at Kennywood Park — 4800 Kennywood Boulevard West Mifflin, PA 15122
Growing up within minutes of an amusement park definitely has its perks, and one of the best is amusement park food whenever you want in the summer. One of the best and most notable stands within the Kennywood Park fence is the Potato Patch. Patch fries are on the list of “French fries you much try before you die,” and rightly so. Freshly cut right in front of your eyes, fried to perfection, then dowsed in warm cheddar cheese and sprinkled with bacon bits, you might consider going back for another order. I crave these all year long. You definitely have to make a stop at this National Landmark this summer!
So there you have it! Ten of the best places to eat in Pittsburgh as told by a Pittsburgh native. Now you’re not limited to mundane dining hall food and cooking ramen in your microwave. Most of these places are located on the Pitt campus, so you have no excuse not to visit some of these famous Pittsburgh hotspots.
Lead Image c=Credit: Wikimedia Commons