Spaghetti and meatballs with salad and rolls
Spaghetti and meatballs from Jioio's. Photo courtesy of Jioio's.

Pittsburgh has consistently been listed as one of the best small cities for dining, and we all know that the city’s 90 neighborhoods are filled with familiar favorites and new spots to visit. So you certainly don’t need to leave the city to experience incredible food.

However, if you find yourself outside of Pittsburgh and are looking for a memorable meal, you’re covered.

Now, I’m not a food critic; I’m just someone who grew up in the suburbs and loves to eat. From Italian to tacos to Chinese food, these are the places I’d recommend to a friend looking for somewhere to get a good meal.

And if you make the trek out for lunch or dinner, we found some fun things to do that are nearby.

Photo courtesy of The Crane Room Grille.

The Crane Room Grille

3009 Wilmington Road, New Castle

Located in an unassuming part of New Castle in Lawrence County, The Crane Room Grille is everything you’d want from a Western Pennsylvania brewery and restaurant.

The bar food is comforting and often cheesy — try the spinach and artichoke dip — and there are 35 beers on tap including the owners’ own CR Brewing Company brews. The dinner menu offers American classics like steak and chicken salads, BBQ pulled pork and brisket sandwiches plus pastas and wraps.

But the real star here are the burgers. My family can’t get enough of the blue cheese burger with cracked peppercorns.

While you’re in the area check out: Cascade Park, West Park Nature Center and Living Treasures Wild Animal Park.

All the pizzas at amazing at Jioio’s, but don’t forget the white pizza with giant slices of tomatoes, right. Photo courtesy of Jioio’s.

Jioio’s Restaurant

939 Carbon Road, Greensburg

I have truly never had any pizza like Jioio’s anywhere else, even when I lived in Brooklyn. The crust is ultra-thin, crispy and slightly sweet, and you can almost certainly eat more of it than you think.

Jioio’s is a small family-owned Italian restaurant with a pickup counter and coolers full of Stewart’s soda in glass bottles — it’s the perfect dose of nostalgia. There’s also a full dining room serving more than just pizza and wings if you have a group that wants to sit and relax. The spaghetti and meatballs is a classic for a reason.

Don’t leave without trying the white pizza with big tomato slices. 

What’s there to do in Greensburg? Visit the Westmoreland Museum of American Art or grab coffee at The White Rabbit Cafe and Patisserie.

Shorty’s Lunch

34 W. Chestnut St., Washington

Those who grew up in Washington County (like my husband) know that Shorty’s is a not-to-be-missed spot for a hot dog.

The old-school lunch counter doesn’t have a website, but it’s so iconic that it does have a Wikipedia page. Shorty’s has been family-owned and operated since the 1930s, and everything is inexpensive and craveable. The hallmark menu item is a chili dog with onions, but there’s plenty to choose from if you’re not into dogs, including fries with gravy and burgers.

Stepping into Shorty’s is like stepping back in time, so leave your phone at home and play along. Choose from two locations: the original spot on Chestnut Street or the Wolfdale Plaza location on Jefferson Avenue.

Things to do nearby: Catch a Washington Wild Things game or bid on discounted goods at M@C Discount in Washington.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Taco Boys.

Pittsburgh Taco Boys

319 Maryland Ave. Oakmont

Though they have a brick-and-mortar location in Oakmont, Pittsburgh Taco Boys often pops up around the region, including a regular spot at Redhawk Coffee Roasters in Sharpsburg, which is how I first became obsessed with their breakfast “boyritos.”

They’ve got everything you would expect from a taco shop — tacos, burritos, quesadillas, empanadas, street corn, chips and guac — done in the most incredible way.

If you are a fan of Mexican food, do yourself a favor and head to Oakmont. It’s more of a take-it-to-go vibe, but there is outdoor seating available, plus a small counter space inside. 

While you’re in Oakmont: Stop at Oakmont Bakery, of course, and see a movie, live concert or play trivia at The Oaks

Photo courtesy of Dragon Palace.

Dragon Palace 

1714 Main St., Sharpsburg 

Dragon Palace in Sharpsburg offers two menus — the “main” menu and an authentic Chinese menu — and both are filled with comforting and tasty favorites for any fan of Chinese cuisine.

The menus are expansive and include chicken, duck, beef, pork, seafood, noodle and rice dishes, soups and plenty more, all of which come in sizable portions that will likely leave you with leftovers.

Dine inside the quaint and homey restaurant with classic Chinese-American decor or pick up takeout from Dragon Palace’s drive-through window. 

While you’re in Sharpsburg: Kayak along the Allegheny River, shop secondhand at Second Harvest Community Thrift Store or shop for plants, candles and other home goods at Tal & Bert

Cristina Holtzer is NEXTpittsburgh's Digital Editor. When she’s not laughing too hard at TikTok, Crissy can be found working on her novel or playing the Sims. Read her work in Everyday Health, The Kitchn, Pittsburgh Magazine, Inc and more.