Recently I was driving down Penn Ave around Lawrenceville and I just happened to spot a Mexican place called Los Cabos. Moreover, it wasn’t just Mexican, but SoCal-style Mexican and I just had to stop in. What I found was a small Mexican spot that looked like the average corner taco or burrito shop all around Southern California, including the famous California Burrito.
Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville has apparently emerged as a Tepper student’s top date spot. The BYOB policy may have something to do with it, but I had a feeling the food was probably pretty good as well when I decided to make it the place for my wife’s birthday dinner. As with most cool places, they don’t take reservations so we arrived early enough to get a table quickly.
While on an old-fashioned quest for unique ethnic food, a couple of friends and I almost literally stumbled upon Salud in Lawrenceville, which purported to dole out Cuban food. Having somewhat recently brushed with Cuban food in Orlando I was excited at the prospect of some of their meaty eats and we decided to check it out.
Pittsburgh has surprised me in its delicious offerings, ranging simple to upscale. Nonetheless, there is no denying that regular American food reigns supreme in this city even when it is all dolled up. Cure, though, is a bit of a different story. Located in Lawrenceville, it is helmed by 2014 James Beard nominee Justin Severino and is an unvegan paradise. Just be aware that when you come to this paradise, there is a price tag, but it is certainly worth it.
Industry Public House is pretty much the first gastropub I have come across in Pittsburgh. This is shocking, because I have been here for more than 9 months and I couldn’t go more than 9 blocks in the last city I lived in without coming across one. And, as much as I tired of every new gastropub’s attempt to find unique craft beers and craft burgers, I must say I was happy to find both at Industry Public House.
Down in South America, coca means a very specific thing. You know, that thing that gave Coca-Cola its name. But up here in Pittsburgh, namely Lawrenceville, coca is for Coca Cafe which, as far as I know, has no connection to cocaine. Instead, it seems to be very connected to brunch. So, with little concern for accidental drug use, we braved the 45 minute wait and got ourselves in for a little Sunday brunch.
EDIT: Smoke has since moved to Lawrenceville, and thus there are some updates below.
Outside of the Waterfront, Homestead isn’t exactly a destination in Pittsburgh. Yet, within that sketchy neighborhood lies a restaurant called Smoke. Such a vague name usually would lead someone to believe that it’s doors contain BBQ and that person would be right, but it’s not just regular BBQ, it is something like Mexican BBQ fusion. The menu mostly contains fascinating BBQ tacos, a random duck quesadilla and some interesting sides.
In an afternoon filled with wandering around Lawrenceville for food and drink, a group of us finally found ourselves at Franktuary. With a church-esque theme, Franktuary fits right in to Pittsburgh, which seems to have more churches per capita than Vatican City. And it’s not just a little hot dog joint. Franktuary is a full-on restaurant specializing in hot dogs, but with a lot else to offer.
My first foray into Pittsburgh’s Mexican food scene brought me to Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville. I really had no idea what to expect, but I found a nice outdoor patio area and a good selection of tacos. I ordered myself some Yuengling and then took a look at the taco menu for a while before landing on their Puerco Tacos.
What do you get when you combine an abandoned church with a brewery? The answer is Church Brew Works, a spot in Lawrenceville that might just be one of the most unique breweries/restaurants in the country. Nay, the world. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us,” and the use of the altar for the actual brewing might just be the best support of old Ben.