While the pumpkin spice latte has become our fall staple, there are so many other delicious flavors that play an important role on plates and in cups this time of year. 

Don’t miss out on essential autumnal arrivals that deserve to share — or even steal — some of the PSL spotlight. Here are a few other iconic fall tastes as well as where to find them in and around town. 

Butternut squash

The Strip District’s Pennsylvania Market always delivers seasonal cocktails, but don’t forget to order an autumnal appetizer alongside your drink. The butternut squash bruschetta is a unique and savory take on the typical Italian starter. It replaces tomatoes with squash, then tops the toast with cranberries, goat cheese and pepitas.

Carne Asada, located inside The PA Market, is also offering fall menu items that are ideal for sharing. Take an order of sweet potato empanadas or butternut squash quesadilla to one of the market’s fire pits, cozy up and enjoy. 

Mi Empanda. Photo courtesy of Tim Semega.

On a brisk fall day, a warm empanada is a perfect snack. There is no better combination of fall bites than at Mi Empanada, and the squash and corn humita is the go-to order. True Mi Empanada fans already know that this time of year brings the Thanksgiving empanada, arguably the essence of fall flavor. If sweet is your thing, be sure to swing by the Lawrenceville location and snag freshly baked Argentinian facturas, pastries with fall-forward flavors like pear. Wanting to just cozy up at home? Stay in your sweats; they also have a take-and-bake option! 

Apple & pear

Threadbare may be known for cider, but the pizzas at the ciderhouse deserve equal attention. Pair your apple or cranberry cider with a Roasted Apple Pizza. With sliced apples, cheese, pulled pork and cider syrup, each slice is a seasonal sensation. Fancy a brunch? Pizza is good any time of day. Order the Brunch Apple, a scrambled egg topped on an apple, leek and feta pie with a honey drizzle finish. There is always something on tap at the Spring Garden location, so remember to check for upcoming events. 

Eleven has an elevated pear salad that is a light answer to our fall palate. If you’re looking for something more hearty at this Strip District establishment, during brunch there is a winter squash and chèvre quiche, partnered with arugula, pear and a champagne vinaigrette. The kitchen’s seasonal menu offerings highlight ingredients that shine through any time of year and although the menu evolves, delicious food stays constant.       

The pesto pear flatbread from Bonfire. Photo courtesy of Bonfire’s Instagram.
The pesto pear flatbread from Bonfire. Photo courtesy of Bonfire’s Instagram.

The Southside’s Bonfire has a pesto pear flatbread that is a crowd-pleaser. It’s the perfect combination with a bite of gorgonzola cheese, smoky charred onions and finished with a port reduction. If you happen to show up for brunch, don’t skip the roasted pear and sage overnight oats, perfect for this time of year.  


Butternut squash, kale pesto, pickled cranberry, and pecorino romano hush puppies. Photo courtesy of Wigle Whiskey’s Instagram.
Butternut squash, kale pesto, pickled cranberry, and pecorino romano hush puppies. Photo courtesy of Wigle Whiskey’s Instagram.

Wigle Whiskey is a splendid spot for a seasonal happy hour. Come for the cocktails and stay for the small plates. The butternut squash hush puppies or the cioppino stew with saffron broth are both great pairings with the saffron negroni. The award-winning gin and amaro really sets the drink apart, upgrading a classic cocktail. Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is a great time to visit the Strip District, with $2 off selected drinks and apps. 

Casbah in Shadyside sneaks saffron into a few of its dishes, and the saffron pappardelle is what you want to find on your dinner plate. The lobster, sun-dried tomato and basil and parmesan are thoughtfully coupled with the subtle sweet and floral notes of the saffron. Another big Burrito establishment, Kaya, is sure to warm diners on the chilliest of fall days. Choose from the bold flavors of the shrimp pelau, a traditional dish from the West Indies, or the carrot and cauliflower paella, a nod to the Spanish. Both menu items are a great representation of the Strip District restaurant’s commitment to the inspiration of international cuisine. 

Sage & brown butter

Photo courtesy of Pino.

Point Breeze’s beloved Pino’s is the neighborhood Italian eatery staple. Pastas here are fresh, house-made and can’t be missed. The ricotta gnocchetti is what’s appealing this autumn, with roasted butternut squash, that mouth-watering brown butter and sage cream sauce, and toasted pepita for a light crunch finish. You’ll find a few other of our fall ingredients throughout the menu as well, saffron in the Calabrian risotto balls or apple and squash alongside the Kurobuta pork chop from Berkwood Farms. 

Troy Hill’s Scratch & Co recently revealed its seasonal dish and it’s sure to be a harvest season delight: butternut squash mascarpone, with sage, hazelnut and parmesan broth. After dinner, wind down with a warm cup of Turkish apple tea, a personal favorite. Bring a few friends, the booths adjacent to the bar are extremely cozy and an ideal space for good conversation over a tasty meal.         

Brown butter French toast from The Speckled Egg. Photo courtesy of The Speckled Egg’s Instagram.
Brown butter French toast from The Speckled Egg. Photo courtesy of The Speckled Egg’s Instagram.

The Speckled Egg’s Brown Butter French Toast is a treat for the taste buds. A can’t-miss fall brunch favorite, the French toast is topped with whipped butter and strawberry cardamom jam, accompanied by a local Pennsylvania family farm maple syrup. The breakfast eatery is nestled Downtown in the Union Trust Building, so your brunch will have historic and dramatic architecture as a backdrop.   

With more than 200 flavors of handmade ice cream, Dave & Andy’s Homemade Ice Cream in Oakland has a brown butter ice cream that will make you a believer in savory desserts. The accompaniment of brown sugar sets the flavor apart. Be sure to request a scoop in the homemade rolled waffle cones.  

Root vegetables

Photo courtesy of The Parlor Dim Sum.

Dim Sum may not be your first thought when it comes to hearty fall dishes, but rest assured that The Parlor on Butler Street in Lawrenceville is delivering Cantonese food that delights. There are several dim sum dishes that fill that fall flavor craving. There are a few tubers on the menu to order; the fried taro dumplings and the turnip cakes with shiitake, sausage and scallion are two plates to add to your order. Save room for dessert, the egg tarts are a tasty Chinese take on a Portuguese sweet.   

Fig & Ash has wonderful seasonal dishes but one item on the menu to never pass up is the heirloom carrot small plate. When your mother says to eat your vegetables, it’s this plate you’d wish she was referring to. The carrots are paired with whipped ricotta, and drizzled with local honey, Marcona almonds and sage brown butter. Larger plates on the menu and have a sprinkle of seasonal ingredients that make the cut. With butternut squash, sage oils, sous vide apples, or a parsnip mash, there’s an autumnal component on nearly every dish. 

Roasted carrot taco. Photo courtesy of Gordo’s Tacos & Tequila.
Roasted carrot taco. Photo courtesy of Gordo’s Tacos & Tequila.

Street-style food at Gordo’s Taco & Tequila is the perfect bite of earthy autumn and Mexican seasonings. The roasted carrot tacos have mole, goat cheese and micro greens wrapped in a scratch-made taco. The Mt. Washington taqueria is the place to be on a taco Tuesday, or honestly any other night of the week.        

Like many meals on the list, there’s a great balance of sweet and savory and the root veggie dishes at Teppanyaki Kyoto in Highland Park are no different. The Japanese renkon kinpira is a lotus root stir fry with a crisp nutty flavor that is a great opportunity to try a new root vegetable if you’re not familiar. The gobo kinpira is a thinly sliced seasoned bowl of carrot and burdock root, an autumnal treat. The restaurant has counter seating, standard table dining as well as zashiki seating, a more traditional Japanese low table on tatami mat flooring.