Mark your calendars: Pittsburgh Best Restaurant Party 2014 on Monday June 2

Want to attend one of the premier events in the Pittsburgh Restaurant industry for half off? Now you can get in for half off!  Get a ticket for only $75 – that’s 50% off!  – available for a limited time through Groupon.

Pittsburgh Magazine hosts a “Pittsburgh Best Restaurant” Party on the first Monday in June each year to honor the 50 top restaurants as voted by Pittsburgh readers.

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Top 5 Downtown Pittsburgh Restaurants for Picky Eaters

When you dine out with your family or with a group, it can be quite challenging to find a restaurant that will please everyone – especially if there is a picky eater among the group. Picky eaters are most often kids, but every so often adults will have some reservations with dining outside of their comfort zone.

Top 5 Downtown Pittsburgh Restaurant sfor Picky Eaters

I, for one, know a couple picky eaters (adults) who will have a grilled cheese or chicken tenders at home before going out to dinner because they anticipate not finding anything on the menu suitable to them.  It’s my opinion that its 2014 and adults should man-up and start trying new foods, especially since Pittsburgh has great things to offer.  Regardless, for foodies who want to socialize over dinner and invite the picky people along, consider these five downtown Pittsburgh restaurants hand-picked with accommodating items.

Browse this Top 5 List

Cider House Rules

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The 1st ever Pittsburgh Mead and Cider Festival will be held Saturday April 27, 2013 at the Old Iron City Brewery from 1pm-4pm

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve never actually seen Cider House Rules, but I can say that Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville really does rule! Though were had visited in its first year of operation, we recently returned with some great friends to find that the selection has grown and so has the popularity.While the Cider House itself only sells the cider by the growler, visitors can sample up to four different variations of cider for free (valid 21+ ID required).

There were a couple “still” varietals which resembled an apple wine, but more “carbonated” options which were more beer-esque (think of the 16 oz. Hard Cider you can buy at the beer distributor).  TasteBudA was drawn to the apple-fruit fusions of plum and peach, while I found the apple-mead selections to be less complex and enjoyable.

The four of us indulged in the sampling before deciding we were enjoying what we were tasting and wanted more.  So, we required a growler to continue our afternoon.  Growlers, like with beer, are refillable and you can get a punch card to earn frequent-filler-rewards.

The decor is completely dedicated to the history of the Lawrenceville Arsenal located right across the street on 39th street.  As we sat for a while and chatted, the number of folks who came in to simply refill their growlers was astonishing.  Not only did we lose track of time and enjoy and entire growler in-house, but we refilled it and took a fresh growler to go.

Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar on UrbanspoonLike Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar on Facebook for information on the local bars and restaurants where they have Arsenal Cider on tap.  And keep an eye out for the 1st ever Pittsburgh Mead and Cider Fest which will be held Saturday April 27, 2013 at the Old Iron City Brewery from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Soho before Challenge Nation Race

Club Sandwich at Soho
A pre-race lunch before the Pittsburgh TasteBuds competed in the Challenge Nation Urban Scavenger Hunt.

On June 17, 2012, the Pittsburgh TasteBuds competed in the Challenge Nation Urban Scavenger Hunt. The race was a ton of fun solving riddles and snapping pictures, but what got us through the race was a pre-race meal. With the starting line at Jerome Bettis Grille 36 on the Northshore (and knowing the place would be packed) we opted for a Soho lunch. Soho is located on the corner of W. General Robinson and Federal streets.

Despite being warned of its size by the waitress, I ordered the Turkey Club Sandwich. Though it was really just a well-made sandwich served with spicy fries, she was right. I could only down 3/4 of the sandwich. Though I enjoyed my sandwich, TasteBudA ordered a different sandwich and found it to be bland. Being polite and pressed for time, he simply requested more condiments and powered through the sandwich.

So, how did we fair in the race? 42 out of 268 teams. It wasn’t our running speed that placed us so high, it was out strategic minds and sense of direction around the city.

Pittsburghese food missing Pittsburgh heritage

Let’s begin by pointing out – for those reading this outside of the Pittsburgh area – that “Dahntahn” is Pittsburghese for “downtown.”  I work dahntahn and after a team meeting decided to gather a couple co-workers for lunch.  We all were up for trying something new, so I suggested the Taste of Dahntahn.  This new restaurant has a large colorful sign which hangs over the sidewalk of Liberty Avenue near Fifth Avenue Place.  The entire restaurant is themed toward historical Pittsburgh – the tabletops are even covered with black and white photography which probably dates back into the early 1900s (or earlier).  The menu is very kitschy, infusing many Pittsburghese-like words into the selections and their descriptions.

For my lunch, I decided to order from the BURGERS N’ AT section and get the “Bees Knees Sirloin” – Half pahn burger with bacon, American, cheddar, dahntahn’s 58 mayo, shredded iceberg, tuhmaytuh & red onion. $9. with fries add $3.

The highlight was the $3 add-on fries.  The fact that they were shoestring fries wasn’t something I even noticed on the menu, but it was a nice surprise because you can’t get them many places.  The Burger was cooked as ordered.  I ordered my burger medium-well, and it was delivered hot and to the correct temp.

Sadly, those are it for my highlights.  The burger was just okay – nothing special, but overpriced.  Plus, I still don’t know what dahntahn’s 58 mayo is.  Did they add something to Heinz 57 to turn it white and call it mayo?  (I’m joking.)  
Taste of Dahntahn on UrbanspoonWhat I find most disturbing isn’t the fact that I wasn’t impressed with the food, because every town has run-of-the-mill lunch spots which are able to have a neat theme.  The problem I had was that due to its name and its location, I could picture travelers to come to Taste of Dahntahn, be as unimpressed as I was, and think that all of Pittsburgh dining is like this.  In fact, I don’t think the menu is a good representation of how great Pittsburgh dining is.  I hope travelers see it for its theme and don’t judge the rest of the city’s dining scene based on a single visit here.
If given the opportunity, I may try it one more time and try to get something else.  But I’d like to see them upgrade the menu with some regional flair.  I mean, can you really represent the taste of downtown Pittsburgh without a Pierogi on your menu?