As a long pandemic winter looms, and outdoor dining becomes less attractive (though still possible in some limited fashion), Pittsburgh restaurants are doing everything they can to keep the lights on.
Simply put, this is going to be the toughest winter for restaurants, ever.
Luckily, getting takeout is still a great, safe way to support your favorite restaurants — and to switch up the often monotonous task of cooking and eating at home.
Here are 10 (more) of our favorite places to check out for takeout in Pittsburgh:
Heir to the late, legendary Legume — which had a massive impact on Pittsburgh dining for the better — is Butterjoint. Helmed by one of Pittsburgh’s best chefs, Trevett Hooper, Butterjoint is focused on simpler scratch-made bar food, like the hamburger, featuring 4 oz. local beef patties on a homemade bun. The Reuben Burger is an interesting twist, with Emmental cheese and sauerkraut. There’s generally not a lot of innovation on the bar food front, but the Raclette Fries with Pickles with Spring Brook Farm Raclette cheese melted over fries, topped with sour dill pickles is a favorite. In a refreshing bit of honesty, the menu mentions that French Fries with Aioli “may be soggy and weird by the time they get to your house,” which is, of course, true. You can also get takeout cocktails, like the classic Negroni and the Full Stop with local Boyd & Blair Vodka, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain and Lemon.
Onion Maiden, Allentown
Yes, a place that specializes in vegan food and heavy metal puns is one of the most consistently great restaurants in town. Their Burning Witch Soup, as one might guess, is a little spicy, with notes of tamarind and lemongrass setting off the murky red lentil concoction. I’m fairly certain that no witches were harmed in the making of this soup (which would not be vegan). You can also go with the Fistful of Curry which oddly eschews the menu’s usual metal references in favor of a Bruce Lee one. Of course, it’s got a bit of a kick, but just enough coconut milk to make it go down without a fight. There’s also the War Pig Hot Dawg, a veggie dog topped with a lot of jalapeños.
Bae Bae’s Kitchen, Downtown
Downtown may lack some of its pre-pandemic bustle, but there’s a little nook on Liberty Avenue with a creative yet simple Korean-inflected menu that seems to be going strong. Bae Bae’s Kitchen has a build-your-own plate system that works well — first, start with stir-fried glass noodles and veggies, mixed ancient grains rice or a mixed greens salad. Then add either grilled local ribeye, Korean fried chicken, spicy fire chicken or crispy tofu. Their signature dish is the spicy Korean Fried Chicken Wings, which really has no competition in town. Bae Bae’s Kitchen is also open for pickup and delivery.
Mi Empanada, Lawrenceville
Empanadas are the perfect takeout food — you can even walk and eat them right out of the bag if you want. These are empanadas in the Argentine style, made by a native. There are Beef Empanadas in a butter puff pastry with rustic seasonings, onion pancetta, eggs, olives and onions. There are also Ham & Cheese Empanadas with meat hand-chopped off the bone and béchamel sauce. Spinach, Sweet Potato and Humita Empanadas — which are filled with savory squash, corn and sweet bell peppers — are vegan.
Tacos with a little Asian-Mexican fusion and a “So-Cal surf vibe” rule at this Downtown spot from the relentlessly creative Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group. There are Korean Tacos with flatiron steak, spicy cucumber and peanut salsa, and the Charred Shishito Tacos, featuring shishito peppers with tomatillo morita salsa, avocado and red onion cilantro salad. You can also get Street Corn with Sriracha mayo, covered in cotija cheese.
B52 is a vegan Middle Eastern restaurant, with a particular emphasis on baked goods, via proprietor Omar Abuhejleh, who also owns the excellent Allegro Hearth Bakery in Squirrel Hill. Some dishes are meatless to begin with, like falafel with pickled turnips, pickles and preserved lemon. Other dishes are successfully reimagined without meat, like the Seitan Shawarma and Spicy Kofta Tofu. Make sure you don’t forget the sauces, like the fiery, garlicky Zhoug and the piquant Toum dressing. For breakfast, they’ve got filling sourdough buckwheat pancakes and an energizing Kofta Scramble, with spicy seitan kofta, kale and tofu. They are takeout-only at the moment. B52 also happens to be a really good coffee shop, so you can get your cortado or cappuccino to go, too.
Pear and the Pickle, Troy Hill
This is great little spot in one of Pittsburgh’s most interesting neighborhoods, the North Side hilltop of Troy Hill. It’s a breakfast diner, with classics like a Lox Bagel with house-cured salmon and an Egg & Cheese sandwich with local farm eggs and toppings like bacon, sausage or avocado. It’s also kind of a deli, with a a classic Corned Beef Reuben and a hearty Meatloaf sandwich elevated with garlic aioli and pickles. They’re also known for their Blueberry Buckle, a crumb cake topped with cinnamon and sugar.
Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, Downtown
This list has been pretty friendly to vegetarians (and vegans) so far, but if you’re enamored of the alchemical combination of fire and meat, this place is simply the best. Gaucho serves wood-fired meats in the Argentine style, out of a giant new space Downtown (the former Six Penn Kitchen). Their steak plates include Arrachera (lean-cut flank), Vacio (sirloin), Bife de Gaucho (fatty, marbled ribeye), Bife de Chorizo (New York Strip) and Entragna (skirt), all served with a salad and toast. Their sandwiches are similarly amazing. Don’t skip out on the sauces, like the traditional Chimichurri (Argentinian pesto) and garlicky Ajo. They also make a play for the best sandwiches in town, with choices like the Rosemary Braised Beef and the Chory Pan with spicy chorizo.
Banh Mi & Ti, Lawrenceville
If you’re not familiar with them, Banh Mi are basically Vietnamese hoagies — big sandwiches on a French baguette. The signature sandwich here is the Viet Special, with pate, pork roll, ham, head cheese and homemade mayo. The Drunken Beef features white wine-infused ground beef and sweet onion. You can also get most of the sandwiches turned into bowls, served over rice with tomatoes, pickled carrots and cucumbers. The “Ti” part is bubble tea, which features little tapioca balls in the bottom and an extra-wide straw for slurping them.
Chicken Latino, Beechview
Priced out of the Strip District after many years, Chicken Latino recently landed in the steep-hilled South Hills neighborhood of Beechview. This mostly Peruvian place specializes in rotisserie roasted chicken, in a Peruvian brick oven. You can order whole or half chickens, with a homemade spicy green chili sauce on the side. They also offer a few Mexican dishes, including giant soft burritos stuffed with chicken, rice, beans and cheese. On the weekends, there are some special dishes like Classic Peruvian Ceviche with tilapia cured in lime juice, and Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian-Asian beef stir-fry served over fries. Instead of fries, try the Crispy Yuca as a side.
Royal Myanmar, West View
Though you can get Thai food everywhere and Vietnamese food is becoming quite common, there is not a lot of Burmese cuisine in Pittsburgh. So Royal Myanmar is special. Don’t sweat the pronunciation and go for something like the Khauk Swe Kyaw, an egg noodle dish with meat or shrimp and scrambled egg, or the super spicy Curry Chicken With Parathar (flat bread). For those feeling less adventurous, they also feature other Asian standards like Pad Thai and a full menu of sushi.
Looking for more takeout ideas? Read 13 Pittsburgh restaurants for great takeout right now.