Dinner at The Porch. Photo courtesy of The Porch.

Dinner at The Porch. Photo courtesy of The Porch.

The Place: The Porch at Schenley, Oakland

Why: This is always a tough predicament—you need a place with a diverse menu, moderate prices and a whole lot of space. The Porch at Schenley nails it. Surrounded by universities, the Porch is prepared for large groups of all ages and stripes, with ample seating indoors and outside. The menu features plenty of safe bets, from a prime rib sandwich to a rotating selection of pizzas. But with lots of local produce and a rooftop garden, there are enough unique touches to keep everyone happy.

More Picks: Pamela’s Diner, multiple locations, Smallman Galley, Strip District

At Morcilla, ranked tops in the country. Photo by Adam Milliron

At Morcilla, ranked tops in the country. Photo by Adam Milliron.

The Visitor: Your college roommate who’s a food trend hawk—she spends more time scouring Eater and Yelp than she does actually eating.

The Place: Morcilla, Lawrenceville

Why: Though I shudder at the word “foodie,” we all have friends who proudly embrace the label. And for a sure-fire bet to dazzle that friend, head to Morcilla. Though sister restaurant Cure continues to turn out world-class food, Morcilla is new darling of Pittsburgh’s food scene. Recently named one of Bon Appétit‘s Best New Restaurants for 2016, Morcilla excels at authentic Spanish tapas, charcuterie and drinks. With a menu ranging from single bite pintxos to huge platters of suckling pork roast, a spread at Morcilla will wow even the most jaded foodie.

More Picks: Pork & Beans, Downtown, Legume, Oakland

Burger and fries at Independent Brewing Company.

Burger and fries at Independent Brewing Company.

The Visitor: Your boozehound work colleague, who’s sweeping through for a night and wants great drinks to go with the food.

The Place: Independent Brewing Company, Squirrel Hill

Why: There are plenty of great breweries around town, and there’s a good chance they’ll have a killer food truck parked outside. But for a whirlwind chance to try the best of Western Pennsylvania beer, head to Squirrel Hill’s Independent Brewing Company. Despite the name, they don’t actually brew anything there. They do, however, dedicate all of their taps to the latest and greatest offerings from our region’s 50-plus breweries. Along with an impressive cocktail program and Chef Monique Ruvolo’s Middle Eastern-tinged bar food, the IBC is not your average neighborhood bar.

More Picks: Butterjoint, Oakland, Spirit, Lawrenceville

Brussel kale pizza at Piccolo Forno.

BrusselKale pizza at Piccolo Forno.The Visitor: A total stranger.

The Pick: Piccolo Forno, Lawrenceville

Why: Once in a while, you get asked to choose a place for someone you don’t know at all. Your dad’s old work buddy, perhaps, or a friend of a friend who just moved to town. In these situations, I can’t think of a more crowd-pleasing food than pizza. Though everyone’s got their favorite place for a pie, Lawrenceville’s Piccolo Forno hits all the right notes. It’s classy but affordable (being BYOB helps), and the atmosphere is lively and inviting. And if you happen to find some weirdo who doesn’t like pizza, the homemade pasta dishes are every bit as good.

More Picks: Dinette, East Liberty, Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon & Downtown

Looking for more great restaurants? Check out the 16 best restaurants that opened in 2016.