Here we go, folks! My “top ten” list (a la David Letterman) for the best restaurant eats of 2013!
*DISCLAIMER*: All of these photos were captured by me, The Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie. I do not claim neither ownership nor monetary profits over these dishes and food items.
I will list the links to the restaurants’ websites, and Twitter accounts below.
10. Friend Chicken Livers: Meat & Potatoes
Although M&P calls this a “snack”, this portion size is DEFINITELY enough for either an appetizer or a meal. These Fried Chicken Livers equal foodie BLISS! If you like chicken (and approach this dish with a bit of an opened mind), then you will not be disappointed. Worth the $7! Plus, the spicy brown mustard (which tastes homemade) is INCREDIBLE! :D
9. Red Beans & Rice: Conflict Kitchen
All I have to say is: the creative geniuses behind CONFLICT KITCEN never disappoint! This red beans & rice dish was the best rice dish I’ve ever had. PERIOD. This photo (and menu item) was captured during this summer’s “Cuba” reign.
8. Red Velvet French Toast: Flip Cafe (Edinboro, Pennsylvania)
There are very few people who love breakfast more than me. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than breakfast food (well…except for dessert…). In my opinion, it’s worth the two hour drive from the ‘burgh to visit this gem of a cafe! Flip Cafe is located along the main drag of Edinboro, PA, home to the “Fighting Scots” and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (my undergraduate alma mater). First: you can never go wrong with red velvet. Second: this is tied with Meat & Potatoes for the best french toast dish I’ve ever tasted! :D
7. Spread from “Wednesday Night Wine Flight: Holiday Wine & Cheese” with Carol “Dear Heart” Pacuzzi of Pennsylvania Macaroni Company
Once a month (usually, the first Wednesday of most months), the “Wednesday Night Wine Flight” patrons gather inside the Cabaret at Theater Square (in Downtown Pittsburgh) for a wine sampling, hosted by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Every December, the Wine Flight team invites Carol “The Cheese Lady” from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, to select the finest Penn Mac cheese to pair with the wine. If you’re not sure of which wine flight to attend, you don’t want to miss this one! The wines are always superb, the conversation is engaging and the cheeses are just perfection! This was my third year attending; it’s always one of the highlights of the year!
6. Deep Fried Brownie: Butcher & The Rye
Butcher & The Rye is the second installment from the creative minds of Chef Richard DeShantz and his business partner, Tolga Sevdik. This wonderful palace of food has only been opened since the end of October, but it has already developed a loyal fan base. This picture was taken this past Saturday (December 21st). My Mom called 11 days in advance, hoping to snag a 6:00pm reservation. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful at her attempt. Did that deter us? Heck no! This past Saturday, we arrived in downtown a little after 5:30pm. We entered the restaurant, waited 5-10 minutes, and were seated! :D Luckily, there was a large group reservation cancellation. Sometimes, timing really IS everything! Anywho: this was our dessert, the deep fried brownie! As you can see, there were pieces of a waffle cone, two scoops of chocolate sorbet ice cream, caramelized bananas, a banana-like sauce, crushed-up nuts, and of course, the deep-fried brownies. If you are a choco-holic (similar to me), you will LOVE this dish! Just make sure you are exercising for the next few days! X) Although, this dish is TOTALLY worth it! Heaven on a plate! :D
5. Soft Scrambled Eggs: Bar Marco
EVERYONE has been buzzing about Bar Marco (Bon Appetit magazine named BAR MARCO one of the best new restaurants of 2013! They were the only Pennsylvania-based restaurant on the list! Pittsburgh Pride, baby!). Thus, I HAD to sample their menu! My Mom and I decided to visit this establishment for brunch, on a cold (yes, cold) October morning. This was soooo worth the trip! These were the best scrambled eggs I’ve EVER consumed! The potatoes were WONDERFUL! Don’t get me started on the fresh-squeezed orange juice- just magical! My only question to you, dear reader: if you haven’t stopped by Bar Marco yet, what is your excuse (especially if you live in Pittsburgh)?
4. Grilled Cuban: Oh My Grill!
The food trucks are gaining popularity in Steelers Nation! This past summer, I was lucky enough to attend a “food truck round-up” in the South Side of Pittsburgh. I had lunch from the Oh My Grill! food truck (based north of the city, but they travel to the city from time-to-time). This grilled cuban sandwich was literally one of THE best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever sampled! It comes pretty close to being as good as my Mom and Grandmother’s (always a good compliment). Plus, the guy who waited on the customer was incredible FRIENDLY. Good food and top-notch customer service: how can you beat that?
3. Baked Camembert: Butcher & The Rye
Although I’ve only dined at Butcher & The Rye twice, I was smart enough to order the Baked Camembert both times (and share with my lovely dining partner). Forget baked brie, camembert is where it’s at! I felt as if I was floating on a cloud of joy! The combination of the phyllo dough, cinnamon apples and some of the best bread EVER (Meat & Potatoes has great bread, too) equals a winning combination! Pittsburgh diners & foodies: I URGE you to convince your dining partner to share this dish with you. You have Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s guarantee of excellence! :D
2. Brunch at Franktuary: Franktuary (Lawrenceville location)
One of the best brunches of my entire LIFE! Similar to Bar Marco, Franktuary offered potatoes (soooo good!) and fresh-squeezed orange juice. The main course: french toast bread with a jalapeno blueberry sausage and scrambled eggs on top. Also, this meal was paired with a side salad. Perfection on a plate!
1. Chocolate Pot Du Creme: Meat & Potatoes
Last, but CERTAINLY not least: Chocolate Pot Du Creme from Meat & Potatoes!! I had this dish during the second day of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Summer 2013. Let me tell you, this was THE best chocolate dish I’ve ever had- ANYWHERE! Whomever creates these impeccable dessert at M&P: I love you; I bow down to you. You are a culinary GENIUS! :D
Peace, Love & Little Donuts (Strip District)
If they have the maple donuts, please try them!! The maple donut is one of the best donuts I’ve EVER ordered. No joke!
Tonic Bar & Grill (Downtown)
(Appletini! J.D. from Scrubs would be proud!)
The drinks are strong, the food is scrumptious and the service is excellent! Easy access from both convention centers in Downtown Pittsburgh. Once again: if you haven’t been there yet, what’s your excuse?
Round Corner Cantina
The one (and only, boo! I must go back there) time I’ve dined at Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville, my friend and I shared the guacamole & chips, and I ordered a “Cantina” margarita for myself. The guacamole was THE best I’ve ever had, and the chips were pretty close to being the best as well. I can honestly say that the “Cantina” margarita was the tastiest margarita EVER! Especially during the spring & summer months, it’s nice to venture over, grab a margarita, sit in the outdoor patio dining area, and “shoot the breeze” with your fellow diner(s). So much fun! A gem in Pittsburgh (one that is no-so-hidden anymore)! :D
Good & Evil Chocolate
Not exactly a “Pittsburgh” food item, but: 1) the chocolate was manufactured in Pennsylvania and 2) it is being sold at Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip District. Make sure to look for this by the counter at the front of the store. If you see some, BUY THEM! The price is a little steep, but worth every penny! This is the best chocolate I’ve EVER tasted! Christopher Curtin (owner of Eclat Chocolate and business partner to:), Anthony Bourdain, and Eric Ripert traveled to another country to discover these rare white cocoa beans. They have turned these beans in to the “Good & Evil” chocolate. There are only two LIMITED productions per year. Thus, if you know this chocolate is in a city near you, I encourage you to purchase it ASAP! You won’t be sorry!
Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas, yinz!
-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie
Meat & Potatoes’ Twitter: @4meatnpotatoes
Conflict Kitchen’s Twitter: @conflictkitchen
Flip Cafe’s Twitter: @flipcafe
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Twitter: @culturaltrust
Butcher & The Rye’s Twitter: @butcherntherye
Oh My Grill’s Twitter: @OhMyGrill
Franktuary’s Twitter: @Franktuary