Best Restaurants 2017
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Gaucho Parilla Argentina
STRIP DISTRICT: 1601 Penn Ave.
Executive Chef/Owner Anthony Falcon
[Argentine] You’ll smell Gaucho before you see it. The warming aroma of beef cooking over the restaurant’s hardwood grills envelops the Strip District, acting as a homing beacon for meat lovers. There often is a line — sometimes around the block — but it moves fast, and the wait is worth it. Flame-kissed steaks are a draw, as are wood-roasted pork, fish and chicken. Thinking of throwing a party for a large group? La Bodega, Gaucho’s downstairs event space, fits 30 people for a sit-down dinner and 45 for a cocktail party.
BLOOMFIELD: 4606 Penn Ave.
Chefs/owners Kate Lasky & Tomasz Skowronski
[Central/Eastern European] Chef/Owners Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski are redefining central and eastern European cuisine with their enticing, all-vegan menu. Pair those dishes with any of the innovative cocktails bolstered by unconventional ingredients such as pickled prune, celery seed and juniper, and it’s pretty clear why Pittsburgh Magazine’s independent Restaurant Review Panel selected Apteka as its 2017 Best New Restaurant. Lasky and Skowronski also have the esteem of Pittsburgh chefs — the duo is honored in the 2017 chefs’ poll as the city’s Rising Star chefs.
LAWRENCEVILLE: 5202 Butler St.
Chef/owner Omar Abuhejleh
[Middle Eastern] Looking for a restaurant that demonstrates that animal products aren’t a necessary component to your meal? You might find yourself to be a frequent visitor to B52, a cafe and eatery that specializes in Levantine vegan cuisine. Dishes such as lentil soup, baba ghanouj, falafel sandwich and kofta tofu scramble all are standouts. Coffee and tea drinks — bolstered by house-made almond milk and other flavors — are a draw to B52 as well.
Smoke Barbeque Taqueria
LAWRENCEVILLE: 4115 butler st.
Executive Chef/co-owner Jeff Petruso
[Barbeque] Catch the best southwestern flavors at Smoke. The specialty here is barbecued meat served in fresh-made flour tortillas (Executive Chef/Co-Owner Jeff Petruso also crafts delicious corn tortillas, but you have to ask for them). Smoke turns into a hamburger joint on Tuesday, and the burgers — particularly the decadent specials — are every bit as tasty as the tacos. Sunday brunch also is a lot of fun: Smoked, then-fried chicken tacos and chorizo-gravy biscuits are treats, and the drinks are excellent.
(above) Stuffed lobster tail with grilled asparagus, baked potato and sweet mustard
Penn Avenue Fish Company
STRIP DISTRICT: 2208 Penn Ave.
Owner Henry B. Dewey
[Seafood] Pittsburgh’s finest fish market also houses one of the city’s best budget eateries. Diners are drawn to Penn Avenue Fish Company for a rotating — dependent on what’s fresh — selection of sandwiches such as North Atlantic salmon with teriyaki glaze and grilled swordfish with house-made barbecue sauce. Soups, fish-topped salads, fish tacos, wraps and more round out the menu. Penn Avenue Fish Company also serves a highly regarded selection of sushi.