You can count on a new blog post here at Figs and Flights every Friday.
Today we're covering the best foods from my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
Here's everything you need to know about food as it pertains to Pittsburgh, PA, in order of importance.
1. Heinz Ketchup is the only ketchup
Everybody in and from Pittsburgh can agree on ONLY one thing and it's that Heinz is the best ketchup in the world.
The one and only commandment of Pittsburgh is thou shalt eat ONLY HEINZ KETCHUP.
The fine print includes:
If we were thinking of adding another commandment it's thou shall teach thy neighbor the right way to get the Heinz out the glass bottle because we know how and it's not stupid, you're just doing it wrong.
See also: Heinz Field, The Pittsburgh Steelers/NFL stadium, and the exhibit at the Heinz History Museum all about Heinz and its history.
2. Pierogies are gold
Pierogies are Polish filled pasta dumplings. Most often the filling is potato and cheese and the heavenly dumplings are sauteed in butter, with onions, and topped with sour cream.
In Pittsburgh you can find pierogies on most restaurant menus, in every grocery store, and at specialty spots like Pierogies Plus. Everyone knows that the best pierogies are made by old ladies and sold out of church basements.
I'm told by several Pittsburgh natives that the very best pirogies are from S&D Polish Deli in the Strip District.
Elsewhere in the world you can usually find Mrs. T's frozen pierogies somewhere in a grocery store. Here in Seattle I can find a standard size box at Fred Meyer and it's almost always potato & cheese. In Hawaii I would regularly buy a 3 lb. bag from Wal-Mart.
See also: The Pittsburgh Pirates' Great Pierogy Race during our MLB games.
3. Potato Patch Fries
Speaking of potatoes, Pittsburgh's VERY BEST FRIES are at Kennywood Park. They're called Potato Patch fries, they're hand cut, and they're absolutely amazing. I go for cheese fries, always, but they've got a ton of other topping options like bacon, vinegar, etc.
I'm told that the Potato Patch no longer offers gravy, which is a very Pennsylvania fry topping.
Other mentions for the best fries in Pittsburgh include the Mighty O in Oakland (which is now closed), Primanti Bros, Hanks, and Big Shot Bob's.
4. Fries on salads
In Pittsburgh your dinner/entree salad with come complete with TONS of toppings including fries, hard boiled eggs, garlic bread, veggies, and cheese. Some restaurants will mention all of the fuss or a "Pittsburgh salad" but usually you'll see only chicken or steak salad mentioned.
You can order your salad with steak, shrimp, or chicken (which can be grilled or fried, buffalo or plain). All will come with fries and ranch dressing is recommended!
Just last week I shared a recipe to make your own Pittsburgh salad at home. I used Trader Joe's sriracha tofu because a) I don't eat meat and b) that stuff is so spicy I needed the rest of the salad to cool it down!
Pittsburgh salads can be found in most restaurants there and my vote is for Rockefeller's Grille for the very best one!
5. Fries on sandwiches - Primanti Bros
The third and final mention of fries is Pittsburgh's most unique offering: fries on sandwiches. Primanti Brothers is our GEM where you can get any type of sandwich served on fresh, soft Italian bread and stuffed with tomato slices, cole slaw, and fries.
Primanti Bros has been on every food show about Pittsburgh EVER. There are locations all over the state and in our stadiums, too.
This is my FAVORITE thing to eat in Pittsburgh and it was the very first place I dragged Bryce to during his inaugural visit to my hometown.
There are meat options (roast beef & cheese, spicy capicolla), fish options (fried fish, sardines), and even a double cheese + fried egg sandwich that's shockingly delicious if you don't do meat/fish at all.
I'm told that the whole kosher pickle at Primanti's is a must try, just eat it before your sandwich because you will get full.
6. Mancini's Bread
The very best bread on Earth is from Mancini's Bakery. The bakery is located in Pittsburgh's McKees Rocks neighborhood, just moments from my parents' house.
Mancini's makes the best, softest, and freshest Italian bread you can imagine. The tiny little store smells heavenly and it's worth a visit although you can find the bread in most grocery stores around Pittsburgh. The twist is the classic but everything they make is delicious.
I make my parents bring me a loaf of Mancini's every time they fly to Seattle!
7. Better Maid Donut Holes
While we're close to home we have to talk about the smallest and most old school bakery you've ever seen. The Better Maid Donut Co. operates out of a tiny building in the Crafton area and the thing you absolutely need to try there are the donut holes.
The donut holes are tiny, sweet, light, and perfect. I used to bring a giant box of them on the bus ride to Saturday volleyball tournaments to share with my teammates. Everybody loves these donut holes and you will, too!
Better Maid doesn't have a website and their business hours are sporadic. They aren't always open and they don't provide much information about business hours so GOOD LUCK but keep trying because the donut holes are INSANE. On the days when they are open they close once the donuts are gone so get there early.
8. Stickies and Smiles at Eat'n'Park
Eat'n'Park is Pittsburgh's popular 24 hour restaurant that has locations throughout the city. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it's a popular spot to visit after a night out of drinking or a late movie.
The food at Eat'n'Park isn't remarkable, overall, but the grilled stickies and smiley cookies are the very best.
Grilled stickies are sticky buns that are thrown onto a grill and served as a breakfast side dish or as dessert! Get grilled stickies with eggs & toast for breakfast or go BIG with grilled stickies a la mode (aka with ice cream) for dessert. Cold ice cream scooped on top of a warm, sticky, sugary bun is delectable.
Smiley cookies are Eat'n'Park's signature bakery item and their logo. They're some sort of sugar cookie magic, there aren't any cookies like them elsewhere. They're soft without being crumbly and the frosting is just right. They do change the colors, shapes, and decoration on the cookie depending on the season.
I LOVE smiley cookies and even included them in the welcome bags for our Pittsburgh-based wedding guests at our Hawaii wedding.
Thanks for learning about Pittsburgh's best foods with me! I've started a whole conversation about Pittsburgh foods amongst my readers and Pittsburgh friends and I hope to keep these lists coming.
Please get in touch if there's a spot in Pittsburgh that you cannot live without!
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Hello, I'm Angela.
Figs and Flights is all about traveling near and far & eating great food both at home and away.
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