Tapas, traditional Spanish “appetizers,” have become a popular form of cuisine in American cities. They are ideal for happy hours and social occasions, as they can easily be shared by friends and are usually conversation-friendly finger foods. Since becoming widely popular, more restaurants and bars are offering tapas as part of their menus both downtown and in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Here are five great locations in the Pittsburgh area to enjoy a few tapas plates with friends.
The Silk Elephant
1712 Murray Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Located near the Carnegie Mellon University campus, the Silk Elephant was recognized by the Thailand government as serving authentic Thai cuisine, according to an article from the Tribune Review. Although traditional tapas are Spanish, many restaurants are offering these same small plates with Asian, Italian or American flare. The Silk Elephant is no exception with its Thai-style tapas. The restaurant offers a variety of small, traditional Asian dishes like spring rolls, seafood steamed dumplings and Thai crab crowns (crab wontons). There are several options for vegetarians like tofu crisps and corn fritters. The silk Elephant also offers heartier options such as rack of lamb and chicken kabobs.
565 Lincoln Ave
Bellevue, PA 15202
Bite Bistro is located in Pittsburgh’s Bellevue neighborhood. It has a hip, relaxed cafe vibe and a variety of small plates available. The tapas menu contains delicate dishes such as gnocchi with braised chicken, foie gras with balsamic and grapes, cucumber salad with radish and kiwi and quail with carrot and ginger. Bite Bistro is a BYOB establishment, so you can enjoy your tapas with your favorite wine, beer or cocktail. If you would like to host your own tapas party with friends, Club Perqe is an intimate lounge located beneath the bistro that can be used for private parties. It can seat up to 60 people and is equipped with a stage and PA system.
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5883 Ellsworth Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
La Casa is a wine and tapas bar located in Shadyside. It serves traditional Spanish tapas dishes with local flare made from only fresh ingredients. La Casa serves both cold and hot tapas dishes. Cold dishes consist of dips such as Zaalouk, a traditional Moroccan eggplant dip and Tchoutchouka, a Moroccan tomato-and-pepper dip, as well as marinated olives and artichoke dishes. For a taste of the sea, order the Duo De Ceviche, which is salmon and ahi tuna tartare. Hot dishes feature sautéed potatoes, vegetable croquettes, sautéed shrimp and a variety of other meats, cheeses and seafood. La Casa is known for its romantic atmosphere, outdoor seating and excellent sangria, so pick a nice day and drink up.
2216 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, Bar Marco is a bar, restaurant and art gallery. It has been pegged as a hip hangout with well-prepared and flavorful dishes. Guests can choose from a variety of single servings of cheeses such as Julianna (raw milk cheese) and aged cheddar, meats such as prosciutto and salami and spreads such as walnut pesto and local honey all served with bread. Small tapas plates include dishes such as meatballs, fried cauliflower and greens and beans. In addition to the food, Bar Marco offers a variety of well-made cocktails and enjoyable art. The upper floor of the bar is an art gallery featuring local artists with pieces that change frequently, so there is always something fresh to see and taste.
The Pig and Truffle
202B Millersdale Road
Greensburg, PA 15601
If you and some friends are looking for a different dining experience and would like to learn to make your own tapas, a trip to the Pig and Truffle in Jeannette offers a unique experience. The Pig and Truffle is a gourmet restaurant specializing in French and Italian food where you can learn to cook. Groups of two or more can schedule classes to learn to make impressive dishes, including tapas. Menus are dependent on the season and change frequently. In a two-to-three-hour session, you and your group can learn to cook a meal and enjoy the results. Classes must be scheduled in advance by calling or reserving a spot via email.
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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.