Bistros originated in France during the 19th century and are thought to have evolved from the kitchens of room-and-board houses that opened food service to the public to supplement income. The modern interpretation of a bistro is a small restaurant with European or sometimes Asian flair that serves rustic, home-cooked dishes. Here are some Pittsburgh bistros to try if you are looking for a relaxing, European-style dining experience.
415 E Ohio St
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Located in the North Side, Bistro Soul is part of Bistro and Company, which also owns Bistro To Go in the same building. It features Southern style foods that are made in a healthy way without deep frying, so that visitors can enjoy a healthier version of comfort foods like turkey meatloaf and baked country chicken. Sides like collard greens with ham, macaroni and cheese, black eyed pea salad and coleslaw are also worth trying. Make multiple stops throughout a few days and rest assured that you’ll never be eating the same meal. Bistro Soul has a large dining room available to eat in, or take out is also available.
711 Washington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Located in Mt. Lebanon, Bistro 19 features dishes prepared with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. The elegant restaurant has separate lunch and dinner menus. Lunch features starters such as lemon pepper calamari, salads like pear and roasted beet and entrees like cedar plank roasted salmon. Dinner features hearty dishes such as Chilean sea bass with a horseradish crust, jumbo lump crab cakes with chive whipped potatoes and duck breast with a honey balsamic butter and sweet potato hash. Wines by the glass and specialty cocktails are also available. Dive into tastes across the board for an all-encompassing party of delicacies. Prices range from $10-$13 for lunch and $15-$30 for dinner, and reservations for the evenings are highly recommended.
Bistro on Penn
922 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Located in the strip district, the Bistro on Penn is one of the Belgian beer specialty restaurants owned by the Sharp Edge. Its menu features salads, unique pizza options such as duck confit and fig pizza and small plates such as spinach and feta pie. In addition to its delicious dishes, Bistro on Penn, like other Sharp Edge locations, has an extensive menu of specialty beers, both bottled and on tap. Bistro on Penn has happy hour on weekdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; all Belgian drafts are half off and all craft and import drafts are $1 off. Monday through Sunday from 10 p.m. to midnight features a late-night, dine-in menu with 50-cent bites, half off select appetizers and half off Indy cheese pizzas.
5501 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Avenue B is located in Shadyside and serves fresh, seasonal dishes. The lunch menu is broken down into options for beginnings or main events, with smaller plates like vegetable tempura and larger dishes like the Kobe burger and ginger BBQ shrimp & mango noodle salad. Stop in for dinner and treat yourself to a myriad of options from the seasonal and chalkboard menus. Seasonal delights include bourbon glazed pork belly & avocado lettuce wraps or wild-caught fish and chips (note: menu changes seasonally). Whereas the staple dishes stay consistent with greats like the smoked trout & baby spinach salad and the hanger steak with a truffle potato salad.
214 N Craig St
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Located in Oakland, Legume is a specialty bistro that serves a unique menu each day. Some food examples are ricotta ravioli with ramp pesto and wild Texas antelope with rutabaga-carrot puree. The evening’s menu is posted on the website each day by 5 p.m. so you can check out the lineup before visiting. Between the breakdown of Nice Things to Share, Salads and Small Plates, Mains, Sides and Desserts on each night’s list, you can surely find a meal to fit your taste. Legume features a full-service bar that hosts live music on Tuesday evenings and a bar menu available from 4 p.m. to midnight. The bar menu dons snacks, small plates and desserts which also change daily. Stop in at Legume for a unique tasting experience in a relaxed setting.
Related: Best Places for Mac & Cheese
Jennifer Stockdale is a native of the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. She is a restaurant marketer and wine enthusiast and one of the hosts of the East Coast Wine Geeks Podcast. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.