April 23, 2024

Eating in Pittsburgh, Now!

Right now, you are probably trying to decide if you’re home 99% of the time for the near future, what are you supposed to do for food. The stay at home restriction Pennsylvania allows you to leave the house for groceries and takeout. You are also able to order delivery for both groceries and many restaurants that are still open. The following will talk about some of the changes and challenges that have occurred and options you may now have to eat. Many small businesses had to shut down with little notice. Small Businesses open and closed can really use our support. If you have the means to support these businesses you should consider it. 

Most restaurants, and really most small businesses, were not prepared to have to change to a full takeout or delivery menu. Restaurants already set up with a takeout business structure, especially through online ordering services, were able to transition very easily. Others immediately signed up for services, hired a delivery staff in order to transition to takeout and delivery only, and took to social media to let everyone know they were still there for food. Unfortunately, many tried to do takeout and were forced to close due to poor sales or closed immediately without question. It should also be mentioned many restaurants had to let staff go or reduce their schedules. Please still tip as if you were dining in at the restaurant to help support these employees.

I will be constantly updating my Instagram with restaurants still open. Pittsburgh City Paper, Good Food Pittsburgh and Dining at a Distance have great lists.

For now, there are some great options in what you can order and how you can support some of these businesses:

Writers note: This info could be constantly changing right now. This is just a small sample of the options available. If you represent a restaurant still operating and would like to be added, please let me know.

Go off the regular menu – many restaurants are still offering their usual menu. This has worked very well for some of the restaurants that already had a large takeout and delivery service previously. Many Asian restaurants were already well set up for this format of call in and takeout. Those restaurants have been hurting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and could use help still. Pizza places are another restaurant type that were used to a takeout based service.

Some other restaurants are adapting because they already offered some version of takeout or delivery, but didn’t have the supplies to be only takeout. After a few days, they have been able to operate at a reduced volume. Some restaurants have also gone to a reduced schedule. In order to still serve some customers and earn money for operating costs, they are only doing service 2-3 days a week. It is early into this pandemic so it’s possible those might not continue on that schedule. If it’s a restaurant you love, maybe order from them now. If you are ordering takeout or delivery, please tip and tip well. Many restaurant employees do not even make minimum wage and require tips to pay bills. Other than your local pizza places and Asian restaurants, here are some great options still offering their regular menu:

Order a family-style meal – a lot of restaurants have changed to doing family-style meals as a way to offer a reasonable amount of food on a limited menu at a reasonable price. This helps keep down the operating costs and offer different menus for people or families who may not have the time to cook right now. Here are some restaurants offering family-style meals

Visit a Food Truck – Several of Pittsburgh’s food trucks are still operating and serving regularly. They prepare most of their food at a larger shared kitchen which is regularly sanitized and then cook in the trucks. Since all the food is pickup and outdoors it makes for a good social distancing option. I strongly recommend Blue Sparrow, who just launched online ordering and Pita My Shawarma, who is currently parking several days a week in front of his soon to open a storefront in Lawrenceville. 

Order booze! – The liquor stores might be closed, but there are many other options. Many of the local breweries, distilleries, and wineries are still operating. Beverage producers are considered essential businesses In Pennsylvania. Distilleries like Wigle Whiskey, Quantum Spirits, Maggie’s Farm Rum, and Lawrenceville Distilling Co. are still selling their spirits for takeout, delivery, and shipping with some great deals too. Breweries all over Pittsburgh are doing pre-order for cans which can be picked up or delivered if you live in range. Many restaurants like Carson Street Deli have a full beer selection to be delivered. Some restaurants are also premixing cocktails and sealing them so they cannot be consumed until leaving the premises.  If you are looking for some wine, check out Piazza Talarico and Papa Joe’s Wine Cellar. As an added bonus, they are also helping local food banks such as 412 Food Rescue and providing lunches to children in need. Wine and beer sections in most grocery stores that have one are still open but there is no guarantee they will be stocked. 

Cook – Grocery stores are still open, but shelves might be a little bare. Employees are tirelessly trying to keep up as shipments come in. If you do go to the grocery store, keep this in mind they need to continue working in public at a risk. Larger grocery stores also might have less on the shelves, but smaller or specialty stores probably have plenty of food, might be less crowded and are usually family-owned. If you don’t want to go to the grocery store, there are delivery options but there is no guarantee you’ll be able to get the products you ordered. There are also many meal plan services that are still shipping and delivering. There are several that are local to Pittsburgh who are still delivering regularly like Pittsburgh Fresh and Bleu Box. Some restaurants, mostly pizza places are also offering meal kits by giving you all the ingredients necessary to make it at home. This can be a fun and different experience at a lower cost. Caliente Pizza, Pizzeria Davide, Mediterra Cafe, and Spoonwood Brewery are all doing these boxes.

Gift cards – Many restaurants are offering deals on gift cards right now as a way to bring in extra income while times are tough. Gift cards are a great way to support a restaurant that might be outside your delivery range, operating on a limited schedule or closed right now. Purchasing their gift cards help, not just restaurants, but all small businesses struggling right now to pay expense costs without much overhead. Gift cards do run a small risk if the business does not return they may not have any value. 

Service Industry Meals – This does not apply for everyone, but if you are in need definitely take advantage. Many restaurants have at some point over the last few weeks hosted a service industry dinner for free. This is an attempt to help those who might not have a source of income right now have a good meal. The most notable of these has been at The Warren partnered with Penn Cove Eatery next door and a rotating cast of other restaurants and distilleries have provided free dinners almost nightly along with a shot. Many other restaurants are still offering this too and the best way to find out is through social media. If you are not part of the service industry, Penn Cove is still available for regular takeout.

Everyone Else – There are a lot of other people out there right now that might need some extra support right now. There are plenty of bartenders, freelance writers and artists, musicians, and other people in day jobs who are not working right now. There are lots of opportunities to help them as well through virtual tip jars and crowdsource fundraisers.

Obviously things are a little crazy now. Hopefully, everyone is doing what they can to stay at home as much as possible and social distancing as instructed. If you are someone that works at an essential business, I thank you for your work and I hope you’re all doing what you can to stay safe. If you are someone whose job has been impacted by what is happening, I hope it will be short term. For everyone, stay safe.