The Steel City: A Visit to Pittsburgh

This post is affiliated with the Vegan Month of Food.  Learn more about #VeganMoFo here.  In each post this month, I hope to give you a tidbit of information that will make you think about your food or animals.

Caryn Ginsberg writes, for The Vegetarian Resource Group, "Vegetarian eating is higher profile than ever. Movies, books, articles, and celebrity interviews tout how vegetarian foods reduce disease and obesity. More and more people are aware of how standard American fare not only hurts our health but also harms the environment and supports cruelty to animals.

It's easier to eat vegetarian or vegan now than ever. Specialized products have expanded from natural foods stores to mainstream grocers, discount chains, and club stores. From fast food to five-star restaurants, vegetarian options are becoming more commonplace."

As a kid, I didn't know any vegetarians, let alone vegans.  Restaurants didn't offer meatless items, unless you wanted a drab salad.  When I became a pescatarian three years ago (and I only eat fish about once per month, if that), there were more options.  I don't visit chain restaurants very often for this reason - although they've improved their menus - but many small businesses offer black bean burgers or other special vegetarian fare!  

It's a great time to be a vegetarian.

Ginsberg continues, "The Opinion Research study found that a quarter of respondents were looking to eat less meat. Cultivate Research identified a similar number of adults as cutting back. Based on the current number of semi-vegetarians and the trend toward reduction, Cultivate Research stated, 'The semi-vegetarian segment has the potential to grow to one-third of the U.S. adult population.'"

As I said in my Meatless Monday post, think about giving up meat for every Monday during the year and see where it takes you!

On to today's post...

This Throwback Thursday post jumps back to a visit to Pittsburgh, PA, my hometown.  Talk about a city that's come a long way: in the last five years, Pittsburgh's vegetarian/vegan options have sky-rocketed!  If you are any type of foodie, Pittsburgh is a great new destination.

Today, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite baked goods and vegetarian restaurant destinations.

Some people like bar hopping; I like bakery hopping.  

As you know from my NYC post, I love bakery hopping.  Here are some of my favorites:

Prantl's - I HAD to stop at Prantl's after reading that the The Huffington Post named their Burnt Almond Torte the best cake in America.

          image from  The Huffington Post

          image from The Huffington Post

I had to try it. I'm not a cake person per se, but this cake was light, fluffy and amazing. It comes in chocolate too, but I haven't had the pleasure in trying that one (yet). They also deliver these suckers to the continental United States. 

Oakmont Bakery - Oakmont is known for its PGA fame, but the bakery should be lauded as well.  Since I'm a snickerdoodle fiend, I've tried them all, and Oakmont's are pretty amazing.  I also approve of their black and white cookies.  But the real reason that I went in that day was to try their Cronut knockoff.

                                         image from Oakmont Bakery

                                         image from Oakmont Bakery

I refused to wait in the 6am line at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC, so this was the next best thing. Oakmont calls their Cronut, the Doughsant. If you like doughnuts, you will certainly like these, but I'm not sure what all of the hype is about.  

They're good, don't get me wrong, but a regular doughnut may satisfy the craving.  At least you don't have to wait in a long line in Oakmont.

Vegetarian/Vegan Eateries
There are so many to choose from, but these are my favorites:

Tin Front Cafe - Located in the soon-to-be revitalized Homestead neighborhood, Tin Front Cafe is truly a gem. 

                 image from Tin Front Cafe

                 image from Tin Front Cafe

I've eaten many things on their menu, but their chili, ratatouille, and butternut squash lasagna are amazing! They also have a bar with infused liquors, definitely after my own heart.  They served me a cosmopolitan martini with blood orange/clove-infused vodka. YUM.

Smoke - Across the street from Tin Front is Smoke.  Both carnivores and herbivores alike can enjoy this place.  It's a small establishment, so you might want to shy away from going during the peak eating hours.  There's no booze, but you can BYOB.  They also allow you to bring your own tequila and they will supply the mixers for margaritas and such.

Their veggie tacos are flavorful and spicy!  Not for the faint-hearted.  Smoke's apple jalapeno coleslaw is just as delicious.  I highly recommend it.

Double Wide Grill - This is the best place to eat on a warm day!  A refurbished gas station, Double Wide is a casual place to grab some vegetarian/vegan comfort food.  Their website states, "We have a separate fryer for our deep-fried vegan items. Our vegan wood-grilled items are prepared on a separate elevated section of our grill. We teach our employees the many reasons for a vegetarian doctrine, including ecological, health, allergy, and religious."  What a great place!

                    image from Double Wide Grill

                    image from Double Wide Grill

Their seitan wings are phenomenal.  The burgers are delicious.  You must try them!

In short, if you stop in Pittsburgh, be sure to check out one of these places!