By Christine Mouser
During the seemingly endless winter months in Pittsburgh, it’s hard to keep warm and comfy when you’re trudging through snow on a daily basis. Lucky for us Pittsburghers, there are some great edible spots in town that will easily warm you up on those frigid, winter days.
For a Hot Cup of Cocoa: Inn on Negley and Mon Aimee Chocolat
This inn is serving guests with much more than just room accommodations. Head to their Fernwood Tea Room and grab a cup of their delectable hot cocoa. It’s an elegant treat, served in a traditional cocoa pot with laced chocolate-topped cups, homemade marshmallows, along with an assortment of housemade cookies. If this doesn’t warm the soul, what else will? At $12, this is one those times to treat yourself. If you’re not a cocoa fan, they also serve tea and a selection of housemade pastries and seasonal fresh fruit.
Hot chocolate comes in so many different varieties that it’s hard to just list one. The hot chocolate from Mon Aimee isn’t for the faint of heart, but for chocoholics – this is your definite fix. Mon Aimee offers two different kinds of hot cocoa. The spicy hot chocolate is an intensely thick and creamy drink, combined with spices to give that extra kick. They even give you a spoon for easier consumption! For more traditionalists, they also offer a house made hot chocolate using milk chocolate. The owner of this chocolate shop brought this recipe back from Spain, which is a delicacy in the European county.
For a Unique Bowl of Soup: Eat Unique
Soup is one of those dishes that tastes extra good when the temperature drops in the winter—and Eat Unique in Oakland keeps the delicious soups coming. This establishment offers eaters a pretty big menu, but the highlight is definitely the soups. The mainstays are the cream of tomato with feta and basil (vegetarian), garden chili (vegan) and the white chili. They also have a new soup every day to try, like the chicken noodle soup or wedding soup. The soup has earned rave reviews and definitely worth the sometimes long wait: remember fresh food comes at a slight cost!
For the Right Cup of Tea: Te Café
This Squirrel Hill joint is the perfect place to grab a book, a piping hot cup of tea and stay away from the freezing weather outside. Te Café offers literally hundreds of different kinds of options for tea connoisseurs. They’re divided into greens, whites, blacks and herbals, as well as tea of the day, which you can find cheaper prices. From lavender to gunpowder tea, they’ve got that specialty tea that’s just right for you. It’s also a great way to test out teas to buy in bulk. You can even ask the friendly, knowledgeable staff for recommendations on what you may like.
For a Full Bar With Fireplace: Soba Lounge
There aren’t many bars that offer a huge drink menu coupled with a comfy atmosphere—and Soba does that perfectly. The atmosphere is what stands out from most lounges in the area. It has a great fireplace, a beautiful waterfall and warm, earthy colors that are inviting. Not to mention, they’ve got an extensive list of drinks—such as martinis, cocktails, spirits, sake, bottled beer, champagne and a huge variety of wines. And the food can warm you up inside as well. They always carry some great soups that change from time to time (like the Thai corn chowder with jumbo lump crab meat and roasted corn). Or try some of their delicious entrees (like the seafood hot pot with scallop, shrimp, salmon, halibut, squid and mussels or the filet mignon with chili-garlic mashed potatoes and pan roasted shitake). A cozy bar atmosphere is hard to come by, but Soba has mastered it.
For a Cozy Setting: The Melting Pot
Prepare to melt way the winter chills in Station Square at the Melting Pot. This place offers guests a special experience that’s not typically found in Pittsburgh—fondue. Whether you’re in the mood for a sweet or savory melted concoction, the Melting Pot has got you covered. On the savory side, they’ve got several different kinds of cheese fondue, like the Wisconsin Trio Cheese (Fontina, Butterkase and buttermilk Bleu cheeses with white wine, scallions and a hint of cherry) or the Traditional Swiss Cheese (Gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses, white wine, garlic, nutmeg, lemon and Kirschwasser). Pair it with a glass of wine, and you’re good to go.
But if sweet is more of your thing, it’s time to warm up to a big pot of warm, gooey goodness— chocolate fondue. Of course there’s the original flavor, but here are some crazy good concoctions: Bananas Foster (silky white chocolate, swirled with bananas, cinnamon and flambéed tableside) or the Flaming Turtle (milk chocolate, caramel and pecans also flambéed tableside). All of these can be dipped with fresh strawberries, cheesecake, marshmallows, pound cake and more. For an even better deal, be sure to check out their Late Night Fondue for a fun and sinfully sweet night out.