The beloved Strip District is known for many things but mostly for its glorious food. If you’re in search of the best meat, cheese, fish, bread and produce, go to this lively and colorful half-mile stretch on Penn Avenue for a one-stop shopping adventure.

Among its stores and street vendors, you will find anything from artisanal salt to olive oil taps to tortilla chips hot from the fryer and fresh cannoli. There’s plenty of food on the go, but what about places where you can sit down at leisure and eat?  Lucky for us there are quite a few options in the Strip, ranging from authentic ethnic spots to fine dining.

Let’s start with BREAKFAST.

The long lines at DeLuca’s and Pamela’s Diner are evidence that these places are favorite go-tos, especially with the weekend brunch crowd. But there are other breakfast options just as tasty.

At first glance, Café Raymond looks rather unassuming, like a place to pick up a pastry snack. Don’t be fooled. Not only does Chef Ray make the best breakfast sandwiches around, but he’s baked bread eaten by U.S. presidents and major league ballplayers.

Further afield, on Smallman St., is the second location of Kelly O’s Diner, where people go for one of three things—eggs any style, haluski or to see why Kelly O’s was featured on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.” On Steeler game days there is a line, which moves fast, and chances are you’ll see a player of the opposing team—or you could end up dining next to one of our own.

Across the street is Marty’s Market where the bright and airy café is a great spot to meet for coffee and breakfast as well as lunch. Known for their local, seasonal and fresh food, the place really rocks on the weekends for brunch.

Then stop for LUNCH.

Midday in The Strip is a bustling time of day and a great time to grab a table for lunch. In fact, there are places that do not even offer dinner such as Café Enrico, associated with the bakery known for its authentic biscotti. During the day, the café opens for lunch with a menu boasting wood-fired pizzas, hot and thick sandwiches and big bowls of homemade pasta. Most days the server will approach with glasses half-full asking “if you’d like to try today’s homemade wine.” You do. 

Expanded dining area at Penn Avenue Fish Company. Photo by Rob Larson.

Expanded dining area at Penn Avenue Fish Company. Photo by Rob Larson.

Another good bet for lunch is Penn Avenue Fish Company. Here you can buy your fresh fish or sit down for one of the dozens of fish dishes or rolls of sushi or fresh salads. Don’t miss Taco Tuesdays!

And speaking of sushi, Andy’s Sushi at Wholey’s is a long-standing establishment where Andy will roll sushi at warp speed right in front of you. You can then eat at the cafeteria tables nearby.

Kaya, best known for Caribbean cocktails and chicken (fried or jerk) dinners has an equally bold and flavorful brunch menu, so if you missed a Fried Chicken Thursday Night, you can always get the chicken and waffles on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Their vegetarian dinners are not to be missed, period.)

Café on the Strip is worth a lunch visit for their soup of the day alone, but you might want to try the lasagna or gourmet pizza while you’re at it. This intimate and friendly place also features a mean tiramisu.

Gaucho. Photo by Rob Larson.

At Gaucho Parilla Argentina. Photo by Rob Larson.

If you’re jonesing for a sandwich, one that goes a beyond protein, fries and slaw (no hard feelings, Primanti Bros., you’re always a top choice), pop into Thin Man Sandwich Shop where everything is farm-fresh and seasonal and signature sandwiches keep customers coming back. Even in the thick of winter, their house Pittsburgh Seltzer infusions are worth the ice cubes. In a neighborhood known for food, this place stands out.

At Thin Man Sandwich Shop at the corner of 21st and Smallman. Photo by Rob Larson.

At Thin Man Sandwich Shop at the corner of 21st and Smallman. Photo by Rob Larson.

Café Raymond mentioned under breakfasts makes extraordinary sandwiches, too.

Chicken Latino is where you will find the best rotisserie chicken in Pittsburgh, cooked Peruvian style in a brick oven with peppers, cumin and paprika. Try some of their other Peruvian favorites, like the weekend ceviche special, which sells out early, or the authentic beans and rice.

Gaucho's in the Strip. Photo by Rob Larson.

Gaucho’s in the Strip. Photo by Rob Larson.

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About The Author

Contributing Writer

Janna is happily rediscovering Pittsburgh after spending nearly a decade living New York City. She’s a writer by trade—magazines, blogs and a book called He Never Liked Cake. And she’s also a yoga teacher. Her classes can be found pretty much all around this city.

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