Vegetarian on Vacation: Pittsburgh, PA
There aren’t enough words to describe how much I love Pittsburgh, if not for Maryland’s awesome infertility coverage we most likely would be living in PA right now. While part of the reason are the large number of friends I have in the area, the food also has something to do with it – and man is there a lot of it!!! Pittsburgh is one of those cities where I know I can easily find something vegetarian without much effort, which can be shockingly hard to do (DC, I’m looking at you). While I tend to go in the Asian direction, there are options that cover the globe and every time I visit I find another (dozen) places to eat. This post is dedicated to my top 5, which was really hard to come up with.
1. Spice Island Tea House – The name does not give this place credit since at first glance it sounds like a place to go for high tea, when in fact it’s an incredible restaurant full of delicious treats for everyone to enjoy. They are also able to accommodate large groups of very hungry book readers – which is always a plus. They have a large vegetarian selection and also offer the option to switch most other dishes to the vegetarian variety, making this restaurant perfect for vegan, vegetarians, and meat-eaters! The location is also slightly off the beaten path and the outside doesn’t match the inside but it really is worth the adventure.
2. Ramen Bar – There is something to be said about a restaurant that can make almost every dish on the menu vegan, beyond just saying YUM! I also have to add a notation about their kimchee as apparently it’s some of the best available in the Pittsburgh area but while I enjoy saurkraut I can’t do this spicy version of fermented cabbage. When switching out the meat I highly recommend the fried eggplant, it was melt-in-my-mouth tender with no hint of bitterness.
3. Noodlehead – At first glance the menu doesn’t seem veggie friendly, after all only a few entrees are veg*n but this is the ONE restaurant that I have to go to on each visit. Their bok choy noodles are beyond incredible and when they say spicy they really (really) mean it. I’m hopeful that one day they will add a tofu bun dish to the app list, but until then I really happily slurp down my noodles along with gallons of water.
4. Square Cafe – Two words: Tofu Scramble! Square Cafe is what convinced me that tofu scrambles are THE key to a happy morning, along with their lattes. I love that they have a seasonal menu, and as a bonus they feature local ingredients. Outside of breakfast they serve two different veggie burgers, one of which features chickpeas which isn’t the normal burger bean. As an added bonus they have milkshakes and fruit smoothies – again featuring local ingredients when in season!
5. Istanbul Sofra – Once upon a time this was another awesome restaurant, that wasn’t so veg*n friendly. With that I’m beyond thrilled that the new restaurant is: delicious, affordable, and vegetarian friendly! From a large list of veg*n apps (hot & cold) to Turkish Dumplings, there’s something for everyone at this Regent Square location. As an added bonus they have some of the best baklava I’ve ever had, just the right amount of sweet and nutty – plus the portion sizes make them easy to share…which you probably won’t want to do.
There is honestly no bad area to eat in Pittsburgh, every corner offers something different – and I would 90% of those corners are vegetarian friendly. From the water front to the point to the little neighborhoods that make Pittsburgh so awesome it is well worth the visit. I’m already counting down to my next visit and can’t wait to find more places to eat!