By Zara Husaini
There are a few iconic dishes that come to mind when we think of the holidays – turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, to name a few. But, with all the interesting dishes that are out there these days, traditional holiday meals can seem a bit… well, traditional. Why not try something new this holiday season? Several restaurants in Pittsburgh serve up meals that are every bit as hearty, satisfying and celebratory as better known holiday classics. This holiday season, try one or all of the following eateries for an exotic twist to your tried-and-true holiday meals.
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11 am – 10 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am – 11 pm
Cuisine: Malaysian and Thai
Sun Penang is located in the heart of Squirrel Hill, and the menu is chock-full of flavorful and delicious items. Customers can opt for starchy goodness (rice and noodle dishes abound here) or more adventurous meals, like fried squid or chicken feet with black bean sauce. Patrons love the dim sum offerings here – to really capture the spirit of family bonding during the holidays,order a roti canai. This crepe-like appetizer is meant to be ripped apart and dipped into a delicious chicken curry.
Greek favorites like spanakopita, hummus, and baklava are prepared to perfection at Christos. Stop into the humble downtown eatery for a long holiday meal, including an authentic Greek salad, appetizer, and entrée of your choice, all topped of with a perfectly warm, nutty baklava. Customers rave about all the dishes, but it’s the homemade red wine that really has everyone talking.
Hours: Mon-Wed, Sun 11 am – 12 am; Thu 11 am – 1 am; Fri-Sat 11 am – 2 am
Arguably Pittsburgh’s most raucous restaurant, Hofbrauhaus represents the liveliest option for holiday dining. It may not be the most family-friendly, but a meal here is a guaranteed good time. Diners nosh on German favorites like bratwurst and schnitzel. If those dishes don’t appeal to you, you can always opt for a burger… but that wouldn’t be very exotic, now would it?
Hours: Mon-Sat 5 pm – 9:30 pm
Chaya boasts one of the most extensive sushi menus in Pittsburgh, and the restaurant’s loyal clientele swears up and down that it’s the most authentic Japanese meal available in the area. The menu also includes Japanese staples like gyoza, tempura udon, and seaweed salad. For a true holiday experience, opt for the omakase, a multi-course sampling of the chef’s choices. This option requires two-day advance notice and a minimum of two orders.
Hours: Tue-Thu, Sun 5 pm – 10 pm; Fri-Sat 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat-Sun 11 am – 3 pm
A meal at Abay redefines the idea of communal eating. Customers sit around a platter of flatbread – known in Ethiopia as injera, this bread takes the place of silverware, and patrons use this to scoop up bites of food. The menu includes soups, appetizers, and entrees, all of which are flavored with authentic Ethiopian spices.