Every great city has its signature dish. Philadelphia has its cheesesteak. Boston, clam chowder. And though it may not be official, for us there’s one thing you have to order in Pittsburgh: A Primanti Bros. Sandwich.
Originally designed for truck drivers to truly be able to have a meal in a sandwich, this behemoth comes with your choice of meat and other ingredients, but the secret to its deliciousness is what comes next. Coleslaw. AND French Fries. Right on the sandwich. For a true taste of Pittsburgh, we took the server’s recommendation and order the “Cap and Egg,” which is spicy capicola and a hard-fried egg. Sounds weird, but it’s amazing. All for less than $7. Big enough to share, but even the skinniest gays at our table worked their way through a whole one.
Something that’s probably not a Pittsburgh staple (but should be) is a little discovery we made thanks to Guy Fieri (http://www.foodnetwork.com/diners-drive-ins-and-dives/index.html) and his Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. We always look up to see if he’s covered anything in a city we’re about to travel to, and his recommendations never disappoint.
Crystal Restaurant is a dark little bar with a secret. In the back are a few tiny tables where some of the best Lebanese food we’ve ever tasted is served to a devoted fan base, mostly comprised of neighborhood businesspeople. Our favorite? The Lamb Sandwich (pictured, right). A warm, toasty pita is stuffed with tender lamb, grilled green peppers and onions, and provolone cheese. Make sure to order extra yogurt sauce. You won’t be disappointed. Especially with the $8.00 price tag, which includes salad or fries.
For breakfast, you absolutely must try Pamela’s, a gay-owned diner with plenty of character—and the best damn pancakes we’ve ever eaten. Crepe-like discs of sweet, cakey goodness are paper-thin and crispy around the edges. Get them topped with a variety of fruits and syrups, but we say go the purist approach and opt for simple butter and maple syrup. Absolutely, positively divine.
However, if you really want to explore some of the city’s hidden culinary treasures, book a tour with Burgh Bits and Bites, a foodie tour of some of Pittsburgh’s greatest neighborhoods. Come with an empty stomach, an open mind, and a sense of gastronomic adventure. From makers of fine quality Italian meats (right) to crazy cheese ladies and everything in between to eat and drink, this is a fantastic way to eat your way through the city without breaking the bank. Make sure to ask for Sylvia!
So basically, if you leave Pittsburgh hungry, you’ve done something wrong. But stick with any of these top recommendations from our adventures and we promise, you will depart counting the days until you return.
Photos by Rod Orta & Steven Lindsey