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Best Pittsburgh Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
There is no shortage of restaurant options in the Steel City. From a restored train station to a reclaimed Catholic church, Pittsburgh’s best restaurants offer unexpected choices. Some of the best-kept secrets are over a bridge or through a tunnel, but one thing is clear: Pittsburghers like to eat, and they eat well. Just a few of Pittsburgh’s food inventions are: Clark candy bars, Heinz ketchup, Devonshire sandwiches, Isaly’s chipped ham, Iron City beer, and Klondike Bars. What would you do (oo-oo) for a Klondike Bar? Go to Pittsburgh, that's what you'd do. Thank you very much and please tip your waiters (20 percent)—keep in mind that they're probably students trying to pay the bills while learning something awesome.

The Carlton

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Located in BNY Mellon Center in downtown, The Carlton is the ultimate fine-dining experience in Pittsburgh. The menu changes daily but you can expect fresh seafood, veal, and filet mignon among other more esoteric choices. Sample main dishes have included oven-roasted sea bass, honey-bourbon glazed salmon and parmesan-panko-crusted rack of lamb. There’s an extensive wine list (over 500 selections) at a minimal markup. Here's a serious bonus: if you are planning on attending a performance in the theater district, The Carlton offers complimentary limousine service.

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Eleven

Neighborhood: The Strip District Price: Expensive
Eleven was the 11th restaurant created by the Pittsburgh-based Big Burrito group. Offering contemporary cuisine with an ever-changing menu, this upscale dining destination is on the blurry boundary of Downtown and the Strip District (near the regional history museum). Some sample menu options include potato-crusted Alaskan halibut and a ‘seafood tasting’ consisting of salmon, tuna and a jumbo lump crab cake. The seasonal selection of appetizer cheese options is sure to satisfy any palate. Be sure to check out the dazzling wine display as you enter the restaurant.

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Six Penn Kitchen

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
In the heart of the Cultural District, Six Penn is a casual yet elegant all-American bistro and a favorite dinner spot for theatergoers—so expect it to be packed and loud at pre- and post-curtain times. The menu changes often, utilizing seasonal ingredients to appeal to discerning palates. Sample entrees include rotisserie jerk chicken with pepper and banana cous cous and a lobster mac-and-cheese. Be sure to sample the house-made pretzels as a side dish or appetizer. If you don't want a full dinner, head to the comfy bar upstairs for light bites and drinks.

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Mad Mex

Neighborhood: Oakland Price: Moderate
These are not your run of the mill Tex-Mex restaurants. Mad Mex offers a lively atmosphere with delicious burritos and "Bad Azz Margaritas" in locations all over town. The Mad Mexes tend to be packed by 11:00PM as that inevitable craving for salty food sets in with the college crowd. The criminally good guacamole and surprising fare like Thai Curry Burritos keep them coming back. This is a great place to have a meal or stop in for happy hour if you're looking to mingle with locals in a festive mood.

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Church Brew Works

Neighborhood: Lawrenceville Price: Moderate
The Church Brew Works is one of the most unique dining establishments in the city. After closing its doors in the early 1990s, this former Catholic Church built at the turn of the 20th century has found new life as a brewpub. That’s right, the pub’s micro-brewing machinery resides where the altar once stood. The food is good (if not "divine") (sorry) and the menu consists of cuisine as varied as Pittsburgh, from pierogi to buffalo burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and the perennial customer favorite, sweet potato fries. You'll love the names of the brews, such as Pipe Organ Pale Ale, Celestial Gold, Pious Monk Dunkel and the Rotating Blast Furnace Stout.

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Grand Concourse

Neighborhood: South Side Price: Moderate
Located in what was the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station, Grand Concourse takes you back in time. Patrons dine in Edwardian-inspired architecture with accents of mahogany, brass and marble. The building’s most prized feature is its stained-glass cathedral ceiling, and sitting under it, you'll feel like a turn-of-the-century passenger—only you'll be waiting for a meal, not a train. The restaurant specializes in seafood and offers an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch. Specialties like applejack sea bass topped with apples and sun dried cherries simmered in a sweet bourbon reduction or macadamia-crusted mahi mahi are offered daily.  Because of its location in Station Square, the Concourse is popular among both locals and tourists. Reservations are recommended.

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Pamela's Diner

Neighborhood: The Strip District Price: Budget
Pamela's, a favorite eatery of the Obamas, has multiple locations throughout the city. Known for their array of pancakes, the diner received national attention when they cooked breakfast at the White House on Memorial Day 2010. (The First Lady was spotted there during the G20 summit in 2009.) Though they serve lunch, the diner is best-loved for its breakfast menu, which is not to be missed. Their famous crepe hotcakes come in a variety of flavors, including banana chocolate chip, banana walnut and blueberry, among others. They don’t take reservations or credit cards, so expect a line on the weekends and make sure you bring cash. 

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Primanti Bros. Restaurant

Neighborhood: The Strip District Price: Budget
Why bother with "side dishes" when they can just be piled on your sandwich? Back when the city was largely a factory town, workers needed a meal that could be eaten on the go. The Primanti brothers answered this need by taking thick slices of Italian bread and piling on not only the meats but the sides, including French fries (onions by request) and coleslaw! Needless to say, this went over pretty well, and they're still making sandwiches the same way. The menu offers more than a dozen different sandwiches, and there are even more options at their suburban locations—but we love the original Primanti Bros. in the Strip District.

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Original Oyster House

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
The Original Oyster House in Market Square has been delighting guests since 1870, making it one of Pittsburgh's oldest establishments. You’ll find a variety of seafood here, including the restaurant’s namesake: oysters. Most of the seafoods are fried to perfection (don't worry, light eaters, a few options are baked or grilled). The Oyster House is a hole-in-the-wall relic with walls adorned with pictures of Miss America Pageant contestants from years past. One of the original proprietors attended the pageant each year and would return with another picture for the wall. Don't miss the Monster Fish Sandwich. Oh my gosh.

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DeLuca's

Neighborhood: The Strip District Price: Budget
Don't want to be a tourist? DeLuca's is the place to dine if you want to blend into the local scene. This unassuming diner serves a traditional breakfast as well as unique items like ice cream sundae pancakes. These are just what you would expect and more: take your favorite ingredients from an ice cream sundae, pile them on a stack of pancakes and voila! Genius. Lunch is also served daily and their milkshakes are to die for. If you go on a Saturday morning, make sure you go early and be prepared to wait a while for a table.

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