The Strip District’s restaurant scene reflects one of the fastest growing, hippest, and culturally diverse neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.
The Pennsylvania Railroad and the Allegheny River served as primary transportation for the 19th century mills and factories of this area northeast of Pittsburgh’s central business district. As the area flourished, groceries, bars, and eateries rooted themselves in the Strip. An eventual decline in prosperity coincided with improvements in transportation and factories shuttered. Today, some legendary establishments mingle with the new as the area attracts dedicated locals, culinary tourists, and tech entrepreneurs. History and creativity mix in a myriad of great restaurants in the Strip District.
The original: PRIMANTI BROS. RESTAURANT AND BAR
Undoubtedly, the most iconic restaurant in Pittsburgh, is Primanti Bros. The sandwich shop started in 1933 in the Strip District and has attracted dignitaries from all around the world. Owners modernized the original location, and the restaurant chain now tops 40 locations in 5 states. The specialty here are deli sandwiches piled high with meat and French fries. The fries are on the sandwich. Eight Tall Boy Sandwiches come in a variety of options, all with coleslaw and fries. The signature Joe, Dick & Stanley sandwich features capicola, turkey, and roast beef with provolone.
46 18th St
Breakfast: P&G’S PAMELA’S DINER
Repeatedly recognized as one of the best breakfast spots in all of Pittsburgh by regional publications, Pamela’s Diner (started by friends Pam Cohen and Gail Klingensmith) is a fixture in the Strip District. It stands out with nostalgic ’50s décor. Like Primanti Bros, the restaurant’s success has allowed for the opening of other locations. Pamela’s elevates the greasy spoon concept with menu items like crepe-style hotcakes stuffed with fruit, chocolate, or nuts; homemade eggs and hash with Lyonnaise potatoes; and elevated takes on French toast. Lunch, served every day until 2:00 p.m., consists of sandwiches and salads.
60 21st St
Seafood: LUKE WHOLEY’S WILD ALASKAN GRILLE
The Wild Alaskan Grille is the latest extension of the Wholey legacy. Restauranter Luke Wholey started delivering fish in a red wagon as a kid. His family founded Wholey’s Market in 1912, moved to the Strip District in 1959, and the current seafood selection is astounding. At the restaurant around the corner from the market, Luke makes sure to offer diners his favorite fried oysters from Virginia. Grilled Alaskan sockeye salmon started it all and the entrée features Asian-inspired accoutrements. Shrimp, lobster, swordfish, crab, cod, tuna, mahi mahi, mussels, squid, and catfish can all be found on the menu.
2106 Penn Ave
Brunch: CADENCE+ CELLARS SPEAKEASY
Cadence+ is a community brand incorporating fitness clubs, event spaces, markets, and restaurants. The brand’s At The Strip presence is served by Cellars Speakeasy, which is not as hard to get into as its name implies. Cellars is only open weekends, but it accepts reservations. Starters, salads, and shareable plates make up the majority of the dinner menu. Entrees in the evening feature beef, lamb, fish, chicken, pork, and a vegetarian risotto. Cellars is popular for brunch featuring unique items like coconut chia pudding, whipped ricotta toast, and the shareable pastrami smoked salmon.
2400 Smallman St.
There is no kitchen at the Strip District location of Helltown brewing. But that does not stop this place from being a great place to get a bite to eat, especially on weekends. Food trucks like The Kabob Mob, Cousins Maine Lobster, and Bridge City Brinery take advantage of the spacious courtyard. Families and groups enjoy live music outside when the weather is nice, and a massive interior area welcomes guests year-round. When food trucks are not present, Helltown allows outside food from the vendors and shops found throughout the Strip District. Twenty-four taps pour everything from stouts to IPAs, plus alcohol-free hop water.
1700 Penn Ave
Fine Dining: ELEVEN
With Chef Eli Wahl at the helm, Eleven Contemporary Kitchen focuses on seasonality and outstanding wines in a modern, yet rustic setting. The restaurant is housed in a rehabilitated warehouse in the Strip District. Diners have the option of a la carte ordering or the chef’s tasting menu in the evening. A few regular protein-forward items include Elysian Fields Farm lamb osso buco, braised short rib, and Gerber Farms chicken. Eleven offers seven dessert choices to pair with an ample selection of digestifs. A Tavern menu offers a more casual dining experience with sharable plates, handhelds, and elevated pub food.
1150 Smallman St
Bakery and more: ENRICO BISCOTTI COMPANY
A look and feel of authenticity permeates from this narrow storefront, which is home to the Enrico Biscotti Company. Former tech executive Larry Lagattuta founded the bakery in 1993, which at first only made biscotti in flavors like ginger almond, black pepper walnut, and peanut butter chocolate. Now, Enrico’s is more than biscotti. Pepperoni rolls, chocolate babka, and specialty breads are only available in-store. Enrico’s delivery service offers to ship many items including a monthly “care package” for those living far away. Locals enjoy cooking classes, private catering, and pairing dinners. In 2022, Lagattuta published a “Black Book” of his favorite recipes.
2022 Penn Ave