After delivery and takeout, outdoor dining is the safest way for your favorite restaurants to keep operating in the pandemic era. Some places have always done it; many others have had to adapt.
Following our recent article about outdoor dining spots, here more of our favorite spots in and around Pittsburgh for al fresco dining.
As always, help them out and wear your mask until you’re actually eating.
Hofbrauhaus, South Side
For a place with so many rivers, it’s a mystery why so few Pittsburgh restaurants seem to use them for anything. Hofbrauhaus, which now overlooks the city’s newest marina, is a major exception. Putting an authentic Bavarian beer hall on the water was a smart move, as it turns out. The back deck above the muddy Mon is so nice that the actual food and drink are sort of a bonus, rather than the main event. The menu is German, of course, and the obvious place to start is with Hofbrauhaus Pretzels and Bier Cheese.
Bob’s Diner, Carnegie
This Carnegie diner is making the best of it with 14 outdoor tables, and classic dishes whisked out the door at a brisk pace. It’s hard to get more traditional than meatloaf or stuffed peppers, lasagna and roasted turkey with stuffing and cranberries. Plus, breakfast is served all day, so you can scarf down a Diner Omelette or Claire’s Veggie Benny (a take on Eggs Benedict). Comfort food for uncomfortable times.
The Commoner at the Biergarten, Downtown
Hotel Monaco’s excellent downstairs restaurant The Commoner is taking over the site’s rooftop Biergarten for the summer. So there’s everything from Pierogi and Sausage, to 16-ounce Dry-Aged Bone-In Ribeye, to a Wagyu Chicago Dog on the menu. You can still munch on Biergarten Pretzels with beer cheese and caramelized onion dip as you take in the panoramic views of Downtown.
Harmony Inn, Harmony
This beautiful converted hotel in the National Historic District of Harmony is worth the trip from any direction (yes, it looks like a giant face with a mustache — you can’t miss it). At this close relation of North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock (also great), you can expect to find their beers on tap, as well as a menu of hearty German food, burgers and plenty of sandwiches. Steak or Shrimp and Bacon Spaetzle are a great way to fill up, as is the Jagerschnitzel — pork flat-iron, hand-breaded and flash-fried, topped with bacon mushroom gravy. For dessert, there’s German Chocolate Cake, of course. The side patio is airy and comfortable and lit by strings of tiny lights at night. (Just beware of the outdoor bar where people tend to congregate without distancing.) And note: Union Brewing is nearby with ample outdoor seating.
Sprezzatura Cafe, Millvale
This little café is in a former Moose Lodge in Millvale, sharing space with 412 Food Rescue (who use it to turn salvaged food into healthy meals for those in need). Sprezzatura makes great family recipe-inspired Italian comfort food like spaghetti with meatballs, vegetable lasagna and minestrone soup. Their salads are quite amazing as well. And now they’ve got a line of slim tables along the side of the building for outdoor dining, for small groups. It helps to know that proprietor Jen Saffron is a stickler for safe dining in these trying times.
Fairlane, Mt. Lebanon
This former service station has always been optimized for indoor/outdoor cooperation, with big garage doors out front, so it makes sense that patio dining would be a smooth fit. Fairlane’s menu is creative and eclectic, with Asian-inflected dishes like Khao Soi — with a house-made Northern Thai curry — sitting next to Southern classics like Shrimp and Grits. They’ve also got a bottle shop with a strong selection of beers and ciders, and cocktails to-go, so you can grab a Manhattan or Negroni to drink at home.
DiAnoia’s Eatery, Strip District
Other than a fairly wide sidewalk, there wasn’t much to work with here. But in addition to setting up a few tables, they created an entirely new outdoor space out back underneath wooden pergolas, with a loose fabric roof and a wall creating a little intimacy (but still with tables six feet apart). Still one of the region’s best places for scratch-made pasta like Cacio e Pepe and Ricotta Ravioli, and classics like Escarole, Beans and Sausage.