Best Bets for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week 2012

This weekend, expand your palate with some injera, yucca and nopales (plus a recipe for Kik Alitcha -- What?!)




Vegetable Plate from Abay, Bean Tostada from Alma, Chiles Rellenos from Verde
 

I remember my first Restaurant Week in New York in 1997. It was such a magical week because it allowed me access to restaurants I could not otherwise afford (you know, because I paid a bazillion dollars to live in an apartment the size of what is commonly called a “closet.”) For 19.97, I could get a ticket to an amazing prix fixe three course meal in hard-to-get-a-reservation restaurants such as Gotham Bar & Grill, Union Square Café and Nobu (in its heyday at the time). Such good memories!

The Restaurant Week phenomenon has spread and has done wonders for local economies – generating anywhere from $4 million in Charlotte to $20 million in Chicago.

Pittsburgh started on the trend gingerly, but this summer our Restaurant Week offerings are definitely amazing. What I love about it is that there are restaurants that are decidedly Pittsburgh “classic” cuisine, but there are also restaurants that give you the opportunity to travel by plate to global destinations. And while it’s wonderful to have pasta and pierogis, this is a great chance to go on a date or take some friends to discover injera and yuca.

But with so many options, where must you go? My best bets for healthy and veg treats are ethnic restaurants that will expand your palate — Abay Ethiopian Cuisine, Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen, Tamari Asian Latin Fusion and Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina.

Top Pick: Abay Ethiopian Cuisine

I rejoiced when Abay opened in East Liberty (just as I rejoiced when bubble tea first appeared on the Pittsburgh scene years ago!) In my book, there’s no better harbinger of diversity (hence, economic upswing) than ethnic restaurants. Abay is offering an amazing Restaurant Week menu with options such as Ye’Abesha Gomen — a dish with kale, peppers, ginger, garlic and onions slow-cooked in a mild sauce, Misir Wat — red split lentils simmered in spicy berbere sauce (berbere is one of my favorite spice mixes EVER, so try it!) and Kik Alitcha — yellow split peas simmered in a mild and flavorful herb sauce (you can find a home version of the recipe below!)

The best thing about the menu is that you can pick and choose from the selections to create a combination plate to enjoy with your injera — that spongy Ethiopian crepe/bread that accompanies every meal. Ethiopian food is definitely a fun experience, not only because it tastes so delicious but because it stimulates other senses as well -- you can eat with your hands and the exotic spices infuse the air for a truly transcendent dining experience.

My other top picks share a Latin American thread in common. Tamari is an interesting fusion of Asian and Latin food (hey, have you ever tried soy paper?) And have you had yuca? I grew up with it. It’s a starchy root vegetable that is almost but not quite like a potato. You can get a yuca patty with black eyed pea fritters at Alma Pan Latin Kitchen! You can also try yucca chips at Verde Mexican Cantina and some cactus (that’s right — called nopales) with some of the best mixed drinks in town.

So round up the crew and spend the weekend stimulating your taste buds (and our local economy at the same time!)

And after you’ve tried it at Abay, enjoy this recipe at home ...


Vegetable Plate with Injera from Abay (Kik Alitcha in the foreground)
 

  Kik Alitcha

Yellow split peas simmered in a mild and flavorful onion and herb sauce.
From Abay Ethiopian Restaurant


Ingredients

  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 1 quart water
  • 8 cups onions (large dice)
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup garlic/ginger mix
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. turmeric

Preparation

1. Sift through and discard off-color peas.  Thoroughly rinse and drain peas.  
2. Combine 1 cup of oil and onions in pot.  
3. Caramelize onions on medium-high heat.  Stir frequently.  
4. In a separate pot, boil split peas in water until soft.  Drain.  
5. Place caramelized onions in food processor.  Add turmeric.  Process.  
6. Place processed onions back in pot.  Add garlic/ginger.  Stir.  Add water.  Add yellow split peas.  
7. Cook on high heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
8. Reduce to medium to low heat and cook until peas become soft.  Stir frequently the entire cooking time.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Brazen Kitchen:

Two Tasty Twists on Tomato Salad

Two Tasty Twists on Tomato Salad

Spin the classic Insalata Caprese with Spicy Miso Dressing and Umeboshi Vinaigrette.
Strawberry Knotweed Popsicles

Strawberry Knotweed Popsicles

Healcrest Urban Farm helps us learn to love this invasive weed with one of the most unexpected and best popsicles you’ll ever taste.
How to Eat Avocado on Toast Like a Boss

How to Eat Avocado on Toast Like a Boss

Brazen Kitchen: This trio of recipes for avocado on toast is inspired by the profane and profoundly funny Thug Kitchen.
Ugly Veggie, Beautiful Soup

Ugly Veggie, Beautiful Soup

Brazen Kitchen: Looks can be deceiving. Discover the velvety comfort of celery root soup, made from the Charlie Brown of veggies.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Things You Might Not Know About Beautiful Heinz Chapel

Things You Might Not Know About Beautiful Heinz Chapel

From the mind-boggling number of pieces of stained glass to its amazing pipe organ, a new video reveals that this chapel is much more than just a popular wedding spot.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
Why Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges 'Should Stay Yellow'

Why Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges 'Should Stay Yellow'

PittGirl's says, quite simply, no other color will do.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
What I Learned on the Road about Pittsburgh's Restaurants

What I Learned on the Road about Pittsburgh's Restaurants

Thanks to chefs willing to travel and taste out-of-town dishes, our food culture continues to flourish.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Adorable Pittsburgh Boutiques for Baby

7 Adorable Pittsburgh Boutiques for Baby

If you have a little one on the way, or you’re shopping for one, check out these locally owned boutiques that simply ooze cuteness.

Comments


The Regatta by Land, Sea or Air

The Regatta by Land, Sea or Air

Don't let the tumultuous rivers keep you away — there are plenty of reasons to take a trip to the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta this weekend.

Comments


How to Make the Ultimate July Fourth Dessert

How to Make the Ultimate July Fourth Dessert

Be the hit at your party with these reinvented ice-cream floats.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Let Them Eat Cake: The Pretty and Petit Dessert Stand

Let Them Eat Cake: The Pretty and Petit Dessert Stand

Make your pastries look extra sweet with this pastel mini cake stand from House15143.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
WYEP Music Fest: A Solid Excuse to Visit Schenley Plaza

WYEP Music Fest: A Solid Excuse to Visit Schenley Plaza

Songwriter Martin Sexton will headline the 18th edition of the free outdoor concert.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
 How to Make Your Wedding Seating Charts Stand Out

How to Make Your Wedding Seating Charts Stand Out

Seating charts are a wedding staple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Update Your Bedroom with the Help of an Expert

Update Your Bedroom with the Help of an Expert

Get inspired by this room designed by Joann Fullen.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pitt Turns to Washington to Fill Key Role

Pitt Turns to Washington to Fill Key Role

The school's new senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer will start in the near future.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Surprise! Pittsburgh's Soccer Team is Worthy of Your Attention

Surprise! Pittsburgh's Soccer Team is Worthy of Your Attention

So what if the Riverhounds aren't a major-league team. If you're not going to their games, you are missing out.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments

Edit Module