Eating on the Fly: Pittsburgh
A gritty steel town situated on a muddy river with a few "terrible towels" lying around… is this what Pittsburgh is all about? A far cry, from it! From the airport, you traverse through a tunnel to enter the city. When you exit the tunnel, you find yourself in a delightful urban oasis surrounded by rolling green hills and beautiful golden bridges. The city is framed by Heinz Stadium and PNC Park, two of the most beautiful ballparks in the U.S. Pittsburgh has winning sports teams, a fantastic array of restaurants, and exceptionally clean streets, with plenty of park space. Very pedestrian-friendly, on a warm and sunny weekday, Steel City is abuzz with professionals and tourists navigating the city by foot.
Last week I worked a baseball charter flight. Charters are great flights to have on your schedule because there is food galore and the baseball players, coaches, and media people are a fun group to transport. It’s a nice break from the ordinary commercial flights that we typically operate.
My crew and I had a full day in Pittsburgh. We were flying out in the evening, so that meant scoping out a great place for lunch. Three other flight attendants and I met up with one of my former colleagues for lunch in the central activity hub of Pittsburgh, Market Square, which was a short walk from our hotel.
Market Square boasts many eateries and we were fortunate enough to be there on a Thursday, when there is also a farmers' market. The most popular venue in Pittsburgh is Primanti Brothers. I have eaten their sandwiches on previous visits and they are pretty noteworthy. They take pride in stuffing them with plentiful meat, french fries, and coleslaw. (In fact, it is a Pittsburgh theme to put french fries on everything. I once ordered a salad in Pittsburgh, which to my elation was topped with… you guessed it… french fries!) Although, Primanti’s is Pittsburgh’s "go-to" eatery, we were craving burgers. We opted for Winghart’s Burger & Whiskey Bar. I tried the "Shipwreck Burger," with Brie cheese, caramelized onions with bacon, arugula, and white truffle aioli. It was juicy and delicious. My mouth waters as I remember the combination of flavors on my palate.
After lunch, we headed to NOLA on the Square, a New Orleans jazz brasserie, also in Market Square, where we had a round of cocktails. I tried the Dixie Sours, made with Crown Royal, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, honey simple syrup, egg white, and splash of soda. Just what the doctor ordered on a beautiful sunny afternoon! We sat outside at a table shaded by an umbrella and watched people. I was disappointed that we didn’t have time to stay for dinner, as there are quite a few notable restaurants that have been calling my name. There is a heavy Polish influence in the tri-state area (where West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania meet at the Ohio River). In fact, there is a strong Eastern European population, which means one thing: great food. I’ll simply have to return to try some pierogies next time.
Is Pittsburgh a shining star in the culinary world? You bet! I’ll proudly wave one of those Terrible Towels any day, and celebrate the food, sports teams, and unique culture this "gritty steel town" has to offer.