Summing up Leah Lizarondo in a few sentences is an awfully tall order. A look at the “About Me” page over on her blog, The Brazen Kitchen, reveals the incredible breadth of Lizarondo’s life and career. She is a writer, activist, leader, chef, founder, mother—the list goes on.

From leading global nonprofits to writing here at NEXT (she is the former author of this very column), Lizarondo’s diverse interests always seem to bring her back to food. Most recently, she co-founded 412 Food Rescue, a nonprofit that works to both end hunger and reduce food waste. The organization provides a much-needed link between places that often have too much food (like wholesalers and caterers) and the people who don’t have enough.

Though Lizarondo leads a life of constant motion, she does get an occasional night to slow down and relax. And she made the most recent one count, hitting not one but two of Pittsburgh’s best new restaurants for the best meal she ate last week.

It’s going to be hard for me to choose ONE PLACE for the best meal I ate last week. I went out for FUN last week—which is a pathetically rare event. Not that I don’t go out—I just always go out to work events and by the time those are done, I just don’t have the energy to go out anymore.


But my husband and I finally decided that we needed to be normal people and actually get out  and we did. And because it is such a rare occasion, we decided to hit up two places—one that is a favorite and one that we have never been to.

The first stop was Station—one of my favorite places that I always wish I could go to more often. I started off with a barrel-aged negroni, which was perfection. Then I had two amazing small dishes— the English pea “tart” made with fresh snow peas—so beautifully presented I had to take a photo (of course!).

I also had their asparagus dish with some freekeh, kimchi (I have to have anything on a menu with kimchi—sorry not sorry), radishes and beautiful greens.  I felt like I scored one of the best interpretations of the last of the local asparagus. (‘Til next year!)

Both those dishes were summer on a plate.

Then we headed to Morcilla. I have never been and I was pretty excited about this since I grew up on Spanish food—this has been sorely lacking in our food “scene.”

I ordered the Champinones a la Plancha —grilled mushrooms. I love mushrooms but the rest of my family does not, so the moment I saw this I jumped on it. The best plate of beech, maitake and oyster mushrooms EVER. If you think you need meat for umami, try this dish. It was just beautiful.


But also unforgettable, I discovered my new favorite cocktail—the Vermut con Refresco, a magical glass of sweet vermouth, gin, saffron, and lemon soda. I had two of those and called it a (perfect) night.

Looking for other Pittsburgh foodies’ best meals? Click here.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.