Did you know that Pittsburgh is truly killing it in terms of vegan food? Yep, that’s right. The vegan food there is uniquely creative and incredibly affordable at the same time. On my recent weekend trip there, I got a taste of it and was utterly impressed. Not because I don’t have faith in Pittsburgh but really because I tend to temper my expectations when I travel outside of NYC, my vegan bubble.
It’s pretty difficult to decide where to go first when it comes to vegan options in the steel city. While there are entire websites dedicated to vegan and vegan-friendly places in various cities, I’m lucky enough to have a close food friend in town who made it her mission to show me around (note: she’s not vegan but checks out vegan places anyway, because she loves food and she knows what’s good ;)).
We started at B52 Cafe for brunch. Greeted by the biggest cinnamon buns I’ve ever seen in my plantiful life, we were brought to our table at this trendy Palestinian place. That’s right, 100% Palestinian and 100% vegan. Also 100% food coma. After too much time, we finally decided to share their mezze combo (we got ALL of them) as well as some latkes (potatoes are our gem)–and wow! Taste fireworks in our mouths. The baba ghanouj and cashew-based labneh were my favorites.
Moving on, we decided to check out the famous strip (a street in Pittsburgh dedicated to small and large ethnic and international food stores). We stumbled upon a chocolate store with a huge selection of vegan and local chocolates. I stocked up on some goodies. Lux is a local brand that makes a variety of vegan flavors that are definitely worth it trying out.
Next stop: The Pittsburgh Juice Company. A colorful and cute little spot, perfect for an afternoon smoothie or juice.
For dinner, we went to Apteka— my friend had told me that this vegan Polish spot was probably her favorite place for food in Pittsburgh. She did not lie…I’m still dreaming of the cabbage filled, lightly pan fried pierogies and the potato salad topped with cranberry preserve. Oh wow, words can’t describe how flavorful this food was, and really, I pray to the vegan heaven that Apteka’s next Location will be New York. For dessert, we shared the gingerbread cake and the apple tart. The tart was truly the cherry (or the apple!) on top of the cake.
My final stop was The Zenith, famous for its Sunday brunch. When we got there, we had to wait in line for a couple minutes. Something I never do in NYC honestly, because I never feel like it’s really worth it. Well, some lines are definitely worth it. The Zenith offers not only tasty brunch, but the restaurant is also inside a second-hand store, which makes for some nice thrifting after you are done eating. You might be too full, however, because the $11 brunch comes with an entire brunch buffet, composed of fresh veggie and pasta salads, fresh fruit, peanut butter noodles, and a plethora of cake. In addition, you get an entree. We got the fajitas and blueberry pancakes. Yum! (See The Zenith’s Instagram to get a sense of the place’s unique vibe!)
So I’m left impressed by the vegan food scene in Pittsburgh and I’m already planning my next trip there. My bet: Pittsburgh’s vegan food scene will explode in the near future, and if it stays so affordable, New York and LA should get ready for some serious dining competition!
Have you been to Pittsburgh? What’s your favorite place to stop for delicious vegan fare?
Also by Isabelle: 5 Coolest Brunch Spots In Brooklyn That Feel Like Vegan Heaven
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Photos: Respective restaurants