Take a Food-filled Journey through Pittsburgh’s Appalachian Culture
I never thought my hometown had a food culture (beyond the glorious fries-laden Pittsburgh salad). Our cuisine, like the city itself, is unique and quirky, influenced by its proximity to West Virginia and its industrialized past. Here is my favorite route through these effects that doubles as a tour of Appalachia’s largest city.
First stop is Jim’s Famous Sauce (2600 Skyline Drive, West Mifflin), a fixture in Mon Valley, once the cradle of the US steel industry. After operating a soda counter for years, Greek immigrant Jim Damianos opened this drive-in place in 1948, and devotees have been lurking in front of the iconic brick façade and illuminated marquee ever since. The place still has that solid post-war vibe. At the counter, order a cheese dog with gravy and you’ll get a fried, melted, pepperoni transcendent bun.
This prepares you for the 20-minute drive to Squirrel Hill, once used by Mister Rogers. real neighbour. Murray Avenue Kosher (1916 Murray Ave) has been a pillar of this Jewish community since 1967, but recently Squirrel Hill has seen an abundance of outstanding East Asian restaurants, among the best of which is the Taiwanese Bistro Café 33 (1711 Shady Ave). It is a homely, friendly venue popular with college students at the nearby University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon. Xiao long bao juicy; Taiwanese sausage fried rice is slightly sweet; and co-owner Jenny Tao even stop to chat at your table while you enjoy your meal.
Then, head 15 minutes north to Butler Street in Lawrenceville, past Brooklyn-like shops and restaurants, to Rolling Pepperoni (6140 Butler St), where Katt Shuler sells the pepperoni roll, a coal miners lunch classic. Try hometown (peps, provolone) or vegan and Greek riffs. When Schuler isn’t cooking, the West Virginia native works with programs like the STAY project, which helps train young leaders in Appalachia.
Next, descend into the Hill District, where many Southern and Black families settled during the Great Migration. The Hill’s most enduring establishments might be August Wilson and grandma B’s diner (2537 Wylie Ave), who founded the Pittsburgh gaming loop here, serving dirty grains, and fries with a tangy homemade “Big Al” sauce. Think several times a week. As the sign behind the counter says: “if you don’t like the food, you’re lying :)”
This might be a good time to do something other than eat, as the 2,500-acre trails at McConnells Mill (1761 McConnells Mill Rd) spawn. over an hour from the city by car.
Complete in the Strip District. Like much of Pittsburgh, the Strip has been transformed in recent years with new restaurants and high-rise buildings. But the city’s immigrant story is played out in hand-painted signs, vendors, truckloads of products, and Robert Wholey & Co. seafood market (1711 Penn Ave), Mediterranean and Asian grocery stores Salem’s (2923 Penn Ave), and Lotus Food Co. (1649 Penn Ave), S&D Polish Deli (2204 Penn Ave), and Pennsylvania Macaroni Company or “Penn Mac” (2010-2012 Penn Ave), I ran pecorino and prosciutto for my family when I was younger. hungry Italians. You can’t get to the Strip without stopping at OG Primanti Bros. (46 18th St), known for its fried and slaw sandwiches since 1930. It was originally built to feed truckers on their southbound route. My regular order is Pitts-Burger and Cheese; Add scrambled eggs and it’s a piece of sandwich art.
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit