What’s New in Pittsburgh Food for September
We check out a cafe by day and a cocktail lounge by night in East Liberty, a new mobile doughnut shop and a new location for Baby Loves Tacos.
Margaux, a light-filled café by day and moody cocktail lounge by night, made its debut July 30 after three years of planning. Owner Michael Saunders, who also owns Opus One Productions and Club Café, transformed a former department store into a modern space with clean lines and maximalist touches. Towering glass windows dapple light across the horseshoe-shaped bar, low-slung lounging spaces and a few scattered high tops and banquettes. Colorful works by Samantha Silvis hang in the space and guests are welcomed off the street with a large vertical neon sign that bears the establishment’s name, brightly lit in hot pink.
Margaux is named for one of Bordeaux’s most revered wine appellations, but the restaurant takes a broader approach to its bar program, including a nice selection of cocktails and craft beers. Bar manager Sarah Clarke designed a menu that includes modernized plays on classic drinks and wine-based cocktails, with a nod to seasonality. Sparkling wines make up a third of the wine selection, which feels appropriate for a daytime-to-nighttime bar as bubbles are light and versatile enough for anytime drinking and make a nice accompaniment to brunch, which Margaux hosts on weekends.
All of the menus are designed by chef Zane Thompson and pastry chef Lisa Wilson of Harrison’s Fine Pastries, nearby on Baum Boulevard. The cafe, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., serves coffee, tea and espresso. Guests order at the counter, and the small breakfast menu offers a few types of hearty toasts, muesli and yogurt.
The evening menu is replete with European-inspired small plates, perfect for a tapas-style outing with friends. Salade Nicoise, chorizo croquettes and cheese boards make for filling options that aren’t heavy, but can add up to a full meal.
Margaux fills a nice gap in the dining scene as a transitional space that feels casual enough for a solo drink but fancy enough for a weekend night out.
5947 Penn Ave., corner at Highland Avenue, East Liberty; instagram.com/margauxpgh
Originally based in the Sunshine State, Valkyrie Doughnuts has recently been on the move in Pittsburgh. The business, with two locations in Florida and a mobile truck in Pittsburgh, is the brainchild of Celine Duvoisin, owner of the immensely popular and vegan Valhalla Bakery in St. Petersburg. Duvoisin opened a permanent location for Valhalla in March 2020 after getting her start working Central Florida’s farmer’s market circuit and operating in a multi-vendor food hall in Orlando.
The Pittsburgh mobile truck sells strikingly large, square doughnuts that are egg- and dairy-free. Flavors include classics such as standard glaze and chocolate sprinkle, as well as french toast, churro and nutter butter banana. The truck typically sells a dozen flavors at events, by the single doughnut, half dozen and dozen. Get there early because they often sell out.
Valkyrie’s Instagram account keeps guests updated on the next stop but enthusiasts know that the truck can often be found outside of ADDA Bazaar in Garfield, Trace Brewing in Bloomfield and Curated Flame in Millvale. The business owners plan to open a permanent space in Bellevue later this year.
Baby Loves Tacos, Oakland
Since opening Baby Loves Tacos in Bloomfield in 2018, owners Kat Muscianesi and Zack Shell have been in constant motion to keep up with demand while expanding and strengthening their community-minded business. They opened their Millvale restaurant and marketplace at the beginning of the pandemic (it closed at the end of August), run a robust catering business and host weekly Saturday and Sunday breakfast pop-ups at KLVN Coffee Lab. This week they added another location in Oakland, which is owned by Gary Musisko and will be run with the support of Muscianesi and Shell.
Baby Loves Tacos Oakland will run a soft opening of its lunch menu through Sept. 26. Following that, the menu will largely mirror that of the Bloomfield location, with lots of vegan and vegetarian options as well as its classic burritos, bowls, quesadillas and tacos.
116 Meyran Ave., Oakland; babylovestacospgh.com