My taste is filet mignon, but my budget is Steak’ums. I keep a secret list of Pittsburgh restaurants to try – near-mythical places like Eleven and Le Pommier. But since I like to eat out more often than once every six months – that’s how often my parents visit – I’m always on the lookout for cheap and tasty eats. So when I saw a PG article on a new guidebook on low-budget eateries in Pittsburgh, I grabbed a copy. Once I read it, I had to meet the authors.
Gail Nesbitt Jones and Marsha Dugan Kolbe met me last month to discuss their tiny masterpiece, Where We Like to Eat n’At. This spiral-bound volume contains profiles on 57 distinctive area restaurants that will spark conversation but won’t break the bank.
Where We Like to Eat n’At features Pittsburgh classics like DeLuca’s, Tessaro’s, Pamela’s and Ritter’s, but it also goes off the beaten path. Take Marsha’s favorite pick, the Monterey Pub in the Mexican War Streets. You won’t find this Irish pub in any guide books, and you’d probably never drive up Monterey Street looking for a restaurant. It’s the kind of place you only learn about on an inside tip, and it’s exactly what the authors were trying to find: neighborhood joints where locals go to enjoy conversation and a friendly atmosphere.
As Gail put it, “The places we included all have decent and affordable food, but more importantly, they are all uniquely Pittsburgh.” That means that you won’t find any chain restaurants in the book, but it also means that you’re in for a whirlwind tour of some of Pittsburgh’s lesser-known neighborhoods and suburbs. For instance, according to Gail, Bob’s Garage in Blawnox pulls off astronomical levels of tackiness that you’ve just got to see. Marsha doesn’t think anyone should miss the pristine Boston Waterfront, hidden on the banks of the Youghiogheny in McKeesport. And I wholeheartedly agree that you must try My Brick Oven, an unassuming woodfire pizza shop on Banksville Road with an astonishing patio and herb-crusted wings that knock my socks off every three days.
So if you’re ready to find new favorite restaurant that you will actually be able to patronize, you can pick up a copy of Where We Like to Eat n’At online or at many local bookstores. Rumor has it that some adventurous types are even getting their copies autographed by staff at each of the 57 eateries profiled. Best of all, it’s only $10, which even I can afford.
And if you’re not convinced, heed to the wise words of Gail and Marsha: There’s no excuse for eating at the same places all the time, and there’s no excuse for not exploring the city you call home.