To eat or not to eat - Pittsburgh Magazine's "Best Restaurants 2016" examined

Originally published July 2rd, 2016. 

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Before I begin, I feel that I should probably explain how I am qualified to critique food on the internet.

Officially, I am not....however, that is the beauty of 2016.  No one needs to be an expert on something to talk about it online.  Thanks to the first amendment and my steady-ish Verizon fios connection, I am going to talk about the restaurants mentioned in Pittsburgh Magazine's "Best Restaurants" 2016 issue (June 2016).

Because I'm not a professional food critic, I don't feel qualified getting down to the nitty-gritty of these restaurants.  Generally, they are all fantastic places to eat and Pittsburgh is lucky to be able to claim them as their own.

However, I do feel comfortable is stating if they're worth their hype or not, based on my anecdotal experiences.

In order of "least worth their hype" to "most worth their hype", here are a few pros and cons of 10 of Pittsburgh's "Best Restaurants": 

10. THE WHITFIELD at the Ace Hotel

whitfield ace hotel pittsburgh.jpg

East Liberty
Although not technically on the "Best Restaurants" list itself, the Whitfield did receive mention in this issue of Pittsburgh Magazine, and has been receiving a lot of hype around Pittsburgh.
PRO: Unique drink menu: not just your classic martinis and g&ts.  Great decor - the hotel did an amazing job renovating - and preserving - the former YMCA in East Liberty.
CON: The food is very expensive.

9. UMAMI

umami pittsburgh

Lawrenceville
PRO: Wonderfully decorated, great atmosphere.  Food arrives quickly - the restaurant suggest ordering small amounts of food as you go and they are able to accommodate this suggestion.
CON: Food was just o.k. in my opinion.  Also, as of June 2016 there was no air conditioning. The exposed kitchen and location on the top floor can heat the room very quickly.  

8. SMOKE BARBECUE TAQUERIA

smoke bbq taqueria pittsburgh

Lawrenceville
PRO: Food and drinks are pretty good.  I have paid more for a worse meal in my life.  If those are the only categories you are considering, this is a good restaurant.  
CON: For having such a large emphasis on "smoke", meats lacked a real smoky flavor and were dry. My biggest complaint is about a conflict I had with the staff. They were very rude to me a few weeks ago when I tried to come in for lunch. 

7. MORCILLA

morcilla pittsburgh.jpg

PRO: Exemplifies all the basics: food, drinks, and service.  
CON: As a tapas restaurant you get to try a lot of things, but the cost of small plates add up - you may be surprised when you get your bill.  I also think Morcilla's association with Cure (another best restaurant - same owner) has a hand in all the praise the restaurant recieves.

6. THE VANDAL

vandal pittsburgh.jpg

Lawrenceville
PROS: I can't say  enough good things to say about the Vandal! Delicious and innovative food! CONS: I think every "con" about The Vandal could be a pro for another person - BYOB, no table service, small place, small menu  

5. EVERYDAY NOODLES

everyday noodles.jpg

Squirrel Hill
PRO: Delicious! Fast, a lot of options, fresh.  There is a lot of seating, and you can watch the food be made in front of you.  
CON: I always order wayyyy too much food, and after a while things get repetitive in taste.  Additionally, Everyday Noodles closes early for lunch.

4. MEAT AND POTATOES

PRO: Meat and Potatoes is very consistent. You are always going to get great food, great drinks, and great service.  The location next to the cultural district cannot be beat - make reservations for brunch before any Sunday matinee show. 
CON: Crowded - not only in the sense that it is hard to get a table, but the place is also physically crowded.  There is not a lot of space at your table and it can be very loud - but again, to the right person, this can be a pro!  

3. DINETTE

dinette pittsburgh.jpg

PRO: Dinette is a long time favorite restaurant of mine.  The food, decor, and atmosphere are all great.  Dinette's transforms pizza into sophisticated fare.  They are consistent in quality, but their menu changes frequently. The pizza's are filling, but small enough to order one per person. Can you tell I'm f#$*ing obsessed with Dinette? 
CON: Dinette is only open for dinner.  This is true about a lot of restaurants, but for so long, I have just wanted one of their pizzas for lunch.

2. TAKO

tako pittsburgh

I have a hard time answering the question, "What is your favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh?" Usually my answer is, "I don't know," but sometimes, when I'm in the mood, it's "Tako." I mean, they have made-to-order guac.  Need I say more?
PRO: Delicious food, sizable portions, fair prices - all of these things can be found at Tako.  Although the menu doesn't change, it's large enough to be able to try new things every time you stop in.... if you want to.  I often find myself ordering the same thing every time I go. 
CON: As with any very busy restaurant, the service can be slow.  It's also very hard to get reservation.  Lastly, weird thing to complain about.... but the lighting is awful.  I question my eyesight every time I enter the establishment.  

1. TESSAROS

tessaros pittsburgh.jpg

No pros or cons for this one.  Tessaros is a Pittsburgh landmark.  You will not be disappointed. 

Honorable mention:

Butcher and the Rye:

I have only had appetizers and dessert at Butcher and the Rye, so I cannot attest to what having a full meal is like... but I expect it is great! 

Get out there and get your grub on, folks.  Pittsburgh is your oyster (and you could probably eat some too - try Muddy Waters in East Liberty).

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HAPPY GALLIVANTING!