Hotspots: Where We're Eating

This month, we're digging on Afro-Latin in Regent Square, spicy Thai in the North Side and strip-mall Chinese that's actually authentic in the South Hills.

Burgatory photo by Laura Petrilla

The globe-trotting menu at this Regent Square restaurant, which opened in August, takes its inspiration from the African influence in Latin-American cuisine. It’s a fun spot to share small plates like conchitas a la parmesana, a Peruvian scallop dish with Parmesan and lemon; yuca frita con salsitas de alma, a crispy yuca dish from the Dominican Republic; or the empanadas del dia, stuffed pastries that change regularly (fillings may include mushroom, pork and black bean or queso fresco and corn).

7600 and 7606 Forbes Ave., Regent Square; 412/727-6320,

On a chilly winter night, the fragrant, spicy Thai food at this delicious North Side restaurant is just the thing. Delicious starters include rich Tom Kha soup, made with coconut milk and sweet tamarind; savory chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce; and crispy crab Rangoon. The curry options include delicious red, green and panang — plus, pineapple and pumpkin varieties that are especially delicious. If you love noodle dishes, you might find that this particular pad thai is hard to beat.

856 Western Ave., North Side; 412/321-8424,

Their build-your-own option has us hooked. Your choice of rub (think cracked-peppercorn or spicy Kingston jerk) and sauce (such as bourbon BBQ or Sriracha remoulade) is included in the burger price. As for cheese ($1 more), you’ll ponder such delicious options as Farmhouse cheddar, smoked Gouda or Amish Gorgonzola. To drink? Order one of the insanely good shakes (regular or spiked) — simply because the devil is in the details: A local farm provides dairy for the homemade vanilla ice cream that’s made fresh daily. With flavors like caramel pretzel (nonalcoholic) and Monkey Business (libation-filled), there really isn’t a bad shake.

Waterworks Mall, 932 Freeport Road, Fox Chapel; 412/781-1456,

This strip-mall restaurant looks unassuming, but the delicious, authentic Chinese food coming out of the kitchen is anything but ordinary. Even simple dishes, like the spinach wonton soup or crispy eggrolls with sweet-and-sour and spicy mustard dipping sauces, will put other versions you’ve tasted to shame. We love the hot-and-spicy lemongrass chicken; stir-fry General Tso’s chicken (a fresh alternative to fried); and heaping plates of traditional Lo Mein, served with chicken, beef or shrimp. Expansion is under way; the owners will increase the offerings and have additional dining space to seat hungry patrons — two hibachi tables and a new sushi bar, to be exact.

Caste Village Shoppes, 5301 Grove Road, South Hills; 412/881-7788

Categories: Eat + Drink Features