Ever picked up a book that looked just, well, utterly boring? Maybe the cover photo was blah or there was no image on the cover at all. Well, we all learned that lesson – never judge a book by its cover – when we were kids and that goes for plenty of other things in life too, including restaurants. Check out these 10 ‘best hole in the wall’ restaurants in Pittsburgh. They might not look like much from the outside but once you step inside, you’re in for a culinary treat.
1. Nadine's Bar and Restaurant
Nadine's Bar and Restaurant in the South Side promises to hit the spot, whether you're in the mood for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The friendly neighborhood restaurant – which welcomed celebrity chef Guy Fieri for the filming of his popular show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives – features an extensive menu with the kitchen generally open until 10 p.m. each evening.
2. Gab & Eat
Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Gab & Eat, a traditional coffee shop that serves good, homemade food at affordable prices. Located in Carnegie, Gab & Eat's menu features such traditional breakfast entrees as pancakes, omelets, eggs, and French toast. Choosing from the lunch menu of hoagies, sandwiches, and sides will guarantee a delicious challenge. Gab & Eat also offers catering services.
3. Smiling Banana Leaf
Smiling Banana Leaf, a neighborhood Thai restaurant in Highland Park, offers patrons authentic homemade Thai food, including options for both carnivores and vegetarians. Patrons can choose from such mouthwatering dishes as chicken satay, tofu paradise, fried wonton, wonton soup, and mango salad with grilled chicken or tofu.
4. La Palapa
Let your taste buds dance at La Palapa, an authentic Mexican restaurant in the South Side. Chef Jose Luis's menu will excite your palate with such favorites as tacos, quesadillas, and tortas. Kick off the meal with tamales, chips and salsa, or empanadas. La Palapa caters to both carnivores and vegetarians.
5. Don's Diner
Don's Diner fits the notion of hole in the wall restaurant to a T. The North Side diner is hidden under a bridge but those who find it certainly make it a regular place to eat. Serving breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, the unassuming diner features affordable prices and such home-cooked favorites as the Wet Judy, eggs, toast, hot soups, and hoagies.
6. Spice Island Tea House
Visit Southeast Asia right in the heart of Oakland at Spice Island Tea House where you can choose scrumptious meals from such countries as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. The eclectic menu includes Malaysian Sate Noodle with Seafood, Singapore Char Kway Teow, Burmese Chicken Curry, and Panang Style Chicken Curry. Enhance your meal with tea house potables, ginger beer cocktails, white or red wine, coconut soda, or Coke products.
7. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina
Experience authentic Argentinian cuisine at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh. Order from the grill – flank steak, New York strip steak, or filet mignon – or from the eclectic list of sandwiches, including grilled chicken, veggie, or rosemary beef. Gaucho Parilla Argentina is closed on Sunday and Monday.
Choose from authentic Chinese, Indian, and Nepalese dishes at Subba Asian Restaurant on the North Side. The menu promises your taste buds will explode with such offerings as Nepalese momos or dumplings, curry, and Chinese hot-and-sour soup. Subba is BYOB so be sure to bring your favorite beer to enhance your dining experience. The Asian Restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
9. All India
Vegans and those on a gluten free diet, as well as carnivores, will discover an extensively delicious menu of traditional Indian food at All India in Oakland. Vegans and vegetarians may want to try one of nearly 20 vegetarian entrees, such as Dum Aloo 11, Palak Kofta 11, or Yellow Dal 10. Top off your meal with a delicious, traditional Indian dessert.
Dig in and eat homemade waffles at any time of the day or evening at Waffalonia in Squirrel Hill. Indulge in a traditional sugar waffle drenched in syrup or topped with ice cream, strawberries, or bananas. If you're in a hurry, take your waffles with you and eat it with your knork. Waffalonia also has a kiosk-style restaurant in Oakland.