Answers from Our Experts (1)
Pittsburgh most certainly has its fair share of traditional gustatory experiences, but hardcore foodies should consider themselves forewarned: Due to the fact that most of the city’s traditional foods were created specifically to satisfy the hunger of hard-toiling, blue-collar immigrants who held physically demanding jobs, this is largely the food of the working man. In other words, if it’s fancy or expensive, it probably isn’t the real deal.
1. Perogi and kielbasa. You may know them as fried dumplings and sausage, respectively. But in Pittsburgh, this Polish dish is known as the ultimate local cuisine. And while these greasy foods are high in both fat and calories, when they’re cooked properly — with lots of butter — they’re sublime. Visit the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern or S&D Polish Deli (in the Strip District) for a taste of the genuine article.
2. Primanti Brothers sandwich. If there is any foodstuff that can genuinely be referred to as a native Pittsburgh dish, it’s a sandwich from Primanti Bros., where you can choose from nearly any deli meat imaginable: pastrami, corned beef, turkey, even knockwurst. But the real surprise is the pile of French fries and coleslaw that are served inside your sandwich, between two massive slices of Italian bread. Chili and soup are also available.
3. Iron City Beer. Although it’s now brewed in Latrobe, Iron City was Pittsburgh’s hometown beer for nearly 150 years. This certainly isn’t the finest ale you’ll ever sample, but Iron City Beer is afforded a huge amount of respect by locals, many of whom have been loyally drinking it for decades. You’ll find it on tap almost everywhere, and you shouldn't leave town without trying a bottle or two.
4. Eat’n Park. To most outsiders, Eat’n Park is simply a spruced-up chain of diners serving standard American fare. But going to Eat’n Park with friends and family is much more than a Pittsburgh institution — to some, it’s practically religion. Breakfast is served around the clock, the prices are reasonable, and the food — whether it’s a chef’s salad, a Superburger, or one of the famous Smiley Cookies — has a unique was of always hitting the spot.
5. The Original Hot Dog Shop. Located in the heart of Oakland and near the University of Pittsburgh, “The O,” as it’s known by locals, cranks out cheap pizza and hot dogs at all hours of the day and night. And yet most people — college kids especially — come for the enormous baskets of French fries, which are nearly impossible to finish. Keep your eyes open if you’re visiting after dark, when the atmosphere at The O tends to get a bit dicey.