Food can bring back strong memories, especially if it’s a dish you had as a child. A favorite meal from your past can come rushing back just from flavors and scents. Like taking a trip in a time machine, here are a few iconic childhood tastes with adult twists and elevated ingredients available at Pittsburgh restaurants.
Grilled cheese, for the big kids
The Yard is serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at four locations throughout the Pittsburgh area. Want to combine your two childhood favorites? Check out the Mac Attack, which is a mashup of grilled cheese and mac and cheese that is what childhood dinner dreams were made of. Multiple locations: Downtown, Shadyside, Mt. Lebanon and Robinson.
The Foundry Table & Tap grilled cheese is not your usual yellow cheese singles in between some boring white bread. This sandwich is made with sourdough bread and stuffed with brie and cranberry Boursin cheeses. If you want to take your sandwich to another level, add tomato, caramelized onion, bacon or an egg to really kick it up a notch. 381 N. Shore Dr., North Side.
Discover more grilled cheese favorites.
Cereal, beyond the bowl
Having a cereal milk latte from Mediterra is like finding that coveted toy at the bottom of the cereal box. What better way to start your day than a caffeinated drink and breakfast food all wrapped into one? Two locations: 430 Beaver St., Sewickley, and 292 Beverly Road, Mt. Lebanon.
Downtown at Sally Ann’s they are taking Cinnamon Toast Crunch and creating a stellar cereal milk latte. The cafe itself is an homage to childhood favorites, with the menu taking foods you know and love and elevating them. 136 6th St. Downtown.
Peace Love & Little Donuts checks all the childhood flavor boxes. While many of the flavors could be a blast from the past, the Fruity Pebbles is what to order when combining the sweet breakfast treat with the ultimate after-school snack. Colorful cereal atop an old-fashioned cake doughnut, the staple will delight your inner child. Multiple locations: Strip District, Cranberry, Robinson, Peters Township, Wexford and Grove City.
PB&J, a new way
With the Piggy Butter & Jelly Burger, Burgatory is taking a classic and spinning it on its head. Several of the milkshakes also bring back nostalgic flavors. Diners can make them a little naughtier by adding booze. Multiple locations: Fox Chapel, North Fayette, Homestead, Murrysville, North Shore, McCandless, Cranberry.
Another PB&J-inspired burger can be found at OTB. The Dirt Rag Delight is a burger combination you didn’t know you’d love. Fresh ground peanut butter atop a juicy beef patty with pickles and American cheese. Do yourself a favor and add the bacon, its smoky flavor with the nutty butter really rounds out the flavor. Multiple locations: Southside, North Park, South Fayette.
Cafe Raymond has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it’s the grilled house-made challah that really sets it apart from the rest. Ooey and gooey, this sandwich is a prime example of taking those beloved flavors from childhood and letting them shine in an adult dish. 2009 Penn Ave., Strip District.
Better than a “blue box” mac and cheese
Southern-style noodles with a kick, the pimento mac and cheese at Coop DeVille seems like a typical side dish but is a main course-worthy order. The Strip District fast-casual joint not only has a nostalgic menu item, but the restaurant is also home to arcade games and duckpin bowling. 2305 Smallman St., Strip District.
Streets on Carson has Timballo on the menu, which is a can’t-miss item. Be sure to order the mini mac and cheese bites that pack a flavor punch. The East Carson Street spot takes your traditional street food and alters components to capture favorites from all over the globe with chef and owner Matt Christie’s own spin. 1120 E. Carson St., Southside.
Savoring your sweet tooth
Bonfire brunch has a S’mores Pancake dish that will make you rethink your camping trips as a kid. Adorned with chocolate cream and marshmallows, it’s a sugary brunch delight that will certainly have diners always wanting more. Find these fancy flapjacks on the weekend menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2100 E. Carson St., Southside.
Southern Tier S’mores Whiskey will warm you up around a campfire. The Nitro Hot Cocoa Stout or Hotter Cocoa Whiskey also have those nostalgic fireside flavors with an adult twist. Visit their North Shore location from Tuesdays through Saturdays, or check out their online ordering where you can schedule a pickup through the Pittsburgh taproom. 316 N. Shore Dr., North Side.
Juice pouches for the big kids? Shady Grove has a Punchin’ Bag, which is a rotation of flavors served in a cocktail pouch. Think of it as a boozy Capri Sun. While as a kid you’d be sipping these at half-time on the soccer field, now they are best consumed while watching a match at the Shadyside bar. 5500 Walnut St., Shadyside.
Super snack attack
As a child, were you ever told you couldn’t choose whatever you wanted from the vending machine at the rest stop on that summer road trip? Well, Vendor Bender is here to change that. You can find the most obscure vending machine treats here, with snacks from other countries or unique hard-to-find beverages. Craving a midnight munchie? Vender Bender Snack Attack events are held on certain late nights. Be sure to keep watch on their Facebook page for updates on when you can visit the city’s first vending machine store. 2301 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill.
Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop is where your childhood sweet tooth grins. The Strip District’s nostalgic shop has all the favorites of the past, giving candy lovers a chance to step back in time with their treats or try candies they missed out on during their youth. With floor-to-ceiling candy choices, there are hundreds of chocolates, suckers or gummies to stock up on. Fancy an array of confectionary goodies? The $5 candy buffet is a chance to fill a box to the brim with any candies you desire. The only rule is to just make sure the lid closes! Multiple locations: Strip District, Canonsburg, Mt. Lebanon, Beaver.