For Vegetarians with Friends
The New Year brings a fresh start and resolutions, and many of those include eating better. Mine started a few months ago when, for a handful of reasons, I cut meat from my diet (but kept fish in). I’ve also been struggling to give up dairy for the past 4+ years – I say struggling, because have you tried it? Some of my friends made similar changes, and some haven’t, so going out to grab food requires just a little extra research. Luckily, the Burgh is tweaking its menus right along with us, so I visited some new and favorite places for vegetarians and omnivores alike.
Garfield, 5107 Penn Ave. – 412.362.SPAK
On my first visit, I wasn’t sure if these guys were even brothers (turns out, they are), but regardless, since my first taste, they’re my new heroes. Vegan and vegetarian-friendly options are scattered all over their menu: seitan cheesesteaks, soy pizzas, and sweet potato fries. Throw in these two magic words for Pittsburgh fare: homemade pierogies – and it’s a hit for everyone’s lazy (read: hungover) Saturday. Their only flaw is being closed on Sundays, so yinz have to find your gameday snacks elsewhere.
My go-to: veggie roll with soy cheese (and just as good heated up as leftovers).
East Liberty, 130 S. Highland Ave. – 412.661.9736
Vegan, vegetarian or not, Abay is an experience to be had by all. Aside from the food being great, it’s perfectly acceptable to both have no idea what you’re doing and make a mess. Ethiopian cuisine ditches utensils and encourages family-style eating – so you know you’re in for an adventure. I split a combination platter with two other veggies, and we left full with leftovers. My favorite discovery was the Ingunday Wat. Oh, and did I mention they’re BYOB?
Shadyside, 232 S. Highland Ave. – 412. 200.5574
Ice cream has been one of my favorite foods for as long as I can remember. Cutting out dairy throws a real wrench into that. Enter Oh Yeah!, Pittsburgh’s most unique sweet treat destination. Who else encourages you to eat ice cream and (vegan) waffles for breakfast!? And don’t forget they roast their own coffees. With the ultimate mix-and-match of ice cream flavors (regular and soy!) and mix-ins (almost 100), this place may startle the indecisive… but eventually, everyone leaves happy.
My go-to mix: soy vanilla ice cream with bananas, Nilla wafers and white chocolate chips.
Double Wide Grill
Southside, 2339 E. Carson St. – 412.390.1111
Since we’re being honest, some Sundays I wake up feening for Double Wide’s breakfast burrito – so let’s give it up for Brunch. I was first drawn to Double Wide for their dog-friendly patio (love that!), and was pleasantly surprised at how veggie-friendly their menu is. Yes, I know Bloody Marys are always meat-free, but once you try their (homemade) veggie sausage, you’re hooked. And with their own slew of burgers, wings, salads and snacks to curb anyone’s fix, this place is an all-around winner.
Shadyside, 735 Copeland Ave. – 412.802.7070
This place is the cure for the winter blues, ‘nuff said. Their bright walls will wake you up, and their paninis and salads are a fresh surprise on everyone’s palate. What knocks Juicebox out of the park for me is their fresh smoothie and juice bar (I recommend the Carrot Top) – the biggest and most affordable I’ve found in the city. I think these kids are on to something (and exactly the kind of thing Dahntahn could use, if you ask me).
Honorable mentions go to EatUnique in North Oakland and all of Big Burrito’s locations.
So whether you’re sticking to resolutions or channeling Alicia Silverstone, the Burgh has stepped up its options for veggie fare. And as a bonus, there’s plenty of room for your friends.
***** We at eatPGH.com see the value in providing the fine folks of Pittsburgh plenty of voices when it comes to reviewing the foodie fare around town. We graciously allow those with equally temperamental taste buds such as ours to post their enthusiastic comments and yes, sometimes-enthusiastic critiques using eatPGH as their megaphone. We know, we know… how kind of us! This post was brought to you by Lucky Guest Blogger Emily. Emily is currently freelancing in public relations and events. She likes spicy foods, farmers markets, and wine. For more quips on these things (and everything), find her on Twitter @EBsays.