Best Restaurants 2018
(page 8 of 10)
Best Budget (cont.)
The focus of these establishments is tasty food at an approachable price-point. Atmosphere and/or service often are secondary considerations — the low-fuss attitude of these restaurants is a draw for some diners.
SMOKE Barbeque Taqueria
LAWRENCEVILLE: 4115 Butler St.
[Barbeque] Pittsburgh doesn’t have many terrific taco options, which is why we love this hybrid barbecue-taco shop. Executive Chef/Co-Owner Jeff Petruso does a fantastic job of mashing up Texas-style barbecue with Austin taco culture at SMOKE Barbeque Taqueria in Lawrenceville. He prepares tantalizing smoked meats such as brisket, ribs and pork shoulder that are served in house-made flour; freshly made corn tortillas also are available. Look for daily specials, too. Tuesdays mean hamburgers, which are scratch-made top to bottom and rank among the best in Pittsburgh.
MONROEVILLE: 4141 Old William Penn Highway
[Indian] 2018 might mark Udipi Cafe’s first year on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants list, yet savvy diners have known since 1996 that Manjunath Sherigar’s restaurant is home to the region’s best vegan southern Indian cuisine. Look past the bare-bones decor and treat your taste buds to invigorating dishes such as avial (vegetables cooked in coconut sauce and spice) and kadhi bhindi curry (Okra with herbs and spices). The restaurant’s dosas — thin pancakes made from fermented rice and lentil flours, stuffed with ingredients such as spiced potato, onion and chutney — are a draw.
SHADYSIDE: 242 S. Highland Ave.
Watcharee Tongdee and Michael Johnson
[Thai] Quick and casual is the name of the game at Noodlehead. All of the noodle recipes on the restaurant’s modest menu were created or inspired by Tongdee family matriarch Pusadee Tongdee. With a name like Noodlehead, it’s not much of a surprise that noodles are what you want to get at this cash-only, BYOB restaurant. Standout dishes include chiang mai curry (egg noodles, chicken, pickled mustard greens, crispy shallots, yellow curry coconut milk sauce) and kee mao (big flat rice noodles, bok choy, napa cabbage, spicy chili garlic sauce); the noodle soups are solid, too.
Salem’s Market & Grill
STRIP DISTRICT: 2923 Penn Ave.
[Middle Eastern] Salem’s may very well be the most inclusive restaurant space in Pittsburgh. Although the establishment has a cafeteria atmosphere — think hot-line and disposable table settings — I believe the informality is part of the draw to Salem’s. The restaurant’s menu is 100 percent Halal, and the meat — better sourced than most Pittsburgh eateries — is part of a whole-animal butchery program that extends to the attached market. From-the-grill items such as seekh and kufta kabobs are savory delights, and dishes from the hot bar, particularly goat and lamb curries, spinach paneer and chickpeas, make for a deeply satisfying, and also affordable meal. Be sure to order naan — hot from the restaurant’s tandoor, it’s pure comfort food.