Ham barbecue. Baskets of 25-cent chicken wings. Juicy burgers (slathered with Heinz, of course). Historically, meat has played a starring role in the iconic dishes of Pittsburgh, a cuisine born of immigrant traditions and a need to nourish famished steelworkers. From towering Primanti’s sandwiches to platters of smoked kielbasa, we are a town with a fierce carnivorous streak.

But a new generation of chefs and eaters are beginning to expand, if not totally reimagine, what it means to dine in Pittsburgh. Vegetarians are no longer relegated to uninspired pasta primavera and hummus wraps, and thoughtful meatless options pepper the menus at Pittsburgh’s best restaurants. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan or simply want to move towards a more plant-centered diet, Pittsburgh grows ever more accommodating to a wider range of eaters.

You don’t have to look far to find a decent meatless meal. But what about the places that are entirely dedicated to it? Read on for our updated guide to Pittsburgh’s best vegetarian restaurants.

The bar at Apteka. Photo by Jennifer Baron.

The bar at Apteka. Photo by Jennifer Baron.

Apteka, Bloomfield

Apteka offers a new all-vegan twist on the traditional Eastern European foods that are central to Pittsburgh’s cultural heritage. What started as a pop-up pierogi night in 2010 by Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski has manifested itself in a brick and mortar location that opened this past February in Lawrenceville. Creative pierogi (like the ones filled with smoked potato, parsnips and turnip greens) are still the highlight, but other options include kanapki (Polish finger sandwiches), borscht, and several salad options. The cocktail list features homemade cordials and savory ingredients, and the bourbon, pickled prune and sage drink has quickly become a favorite. Apteka will soon open a patio seating area, adding one more reason to hit up this casually cool spot.

A feast at Udipi. Photo by Erika Gidley

A feast at Udipi. Photo by Erika Gidley

Udipi CaféMonroeville

To know about Udipi is to feel pretty damn cool. It’s got no website, no social media presence, and even if you happened to be driving aimlessly around Monroeville, the bare-bones sign and drab exterior would hardly make you hit the brakes. Nevertheless, people talk about Udipi. And when they do, it’s often in hushed and reverent tones peppered with groans of delight as they remember meals past. Udipi specializes in South Indian food, all of it vegetarian. The menu is large and a bit overwhelming, but it’s tough to make a bad choice when you order there. Whatever you do, don’t miss the vegetable samosas and at least one dosa, a thin crispy crepe filled with various veggies and chutneys. The ambience is a bit like a cafeteria and the service comes with even fewer frills, but the food at Udipi has charm for days.

Amazing Cafe

Tulum tacos at Amazing Cafe on E. Carson St.

Amazing CaféSouth Side

Amazing Café is a bright and peaceful restaurant with a focus on vegan and raw dishes, plopped right in the middle of the greasy spoons and rowdy dives on the South Side. It’s a welcome respite. Amazing Café is all about food that makes you feel good—not surprising for a place connected to a yoga studio. I must confess that I wasn’t quite sure what I was ordering when I got the Spontaneity, but I was pleasantly surprised by the bundles of veggies and walnut puree that arrived. It was just what I wanted out of a raw, vegan dish—thoughtful, balanced, and simple enough to let the fresh, local produce shine. I left feeling full and energized, ready for yoga (or maybe a beer). Now they’re serving breakfast and new items like the tulum tacos pictured here, with roasted veggies that are, well, amazing. Be sure to try the fresh juices and smoothies, too. Every neighborhood should have a place like this.

Randita’s Organic Vegan Cafe, Aspinwall/mobile

Randita’s food truck has been serving up nourishing vegan fare to the Pittsburgh community since 2012. Though the solar powered food trailer continues to appear at events across the city, the venture has since expanded to a permanent location in Aspinwall. At their cozy spot on Commercial Avenue, husband and wife team Randy and Dale Cinski concoct soups, salads and sandwiches that feature creative meat substitutes (think lentil meatballs and grain-and-bean burgers). On the weekends, Randita’s features dinner specials that draw on an array of global influences. Whether you want to grab a BBQ wrap (made with seitan) or bring home a frozen prepared meal for dinner, Randita’s offers a range of inventive options that won’t leave you yearning for meat.