And Knowing (the right Mexican restaurant) is Half the Battle…

March 4, 2008 by

Another great find in the North Hills, El Campesino…and frequent stop for G.I. Jose.

Gi Jose Gi Jose2

Food was great…very reminiscent of Mexico City, downtown, although still pretty good. The best part about this place…the food is served super fast. Dan & Rob had the #24 (one burrito, one enchilada and a chili relano), Ned had the burrito plate, Kristin had the #6 (burrito, taco, beans and rice, and Brian had #14 (an enchilada, a burrito, and one tamale):

Salsa & Chips 24 burrito plate 6 14

All in all, this place is perfect for a quick lunch…very authentic.

Bonus Tip of the day: Rob & Kenny say “just add tequila” for that added touch to your next fiesta.

rob-kenny

…but things could get ugly.

rob-kenny2

El Campesino
4771 McKnight Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
(412) 366-8730

http://www.elcampesino.net

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In Brugge

March 3, 2008 by

On Friday, we were driving around in the snow, and I decided to head back to an old favorite, Point Brugge Café in Point Breeze.   It was the perfect getaway from the snow, a nice cosy house setting in a residential area for some good beer and Belgian fare.   Also I was hoping to beat the crowds.   The place gets pretty busy and there are no reservations!   We ended up getting there just at the right time, a little wait and we got the best spot in the house.    It’s on the second level that looks out onto the first floor.   The setting is really nice, the owners have sought to replicate a European neighborhood café – a very  unique setting for Pittsburgh.

 Point Brugge Cafe    Point Brugge Cafe    Point Brugge Cafe

We started off the meal with a couple appetizers: Brugge Frites (the best French fries around with basil mayonnaise dipping sauce) and delicious Mac and Cheese baked with Gruyere, Parmesan and Cheddar.    I had a couple Corsendonk winter ales then finished off the meal with a small order of Mussels (Moules Bowl) in white wine sauce with shallots, garlic and light cream.    Their mussels are great, large bites with juicy sauce for dipping baguettes in.    Lisa had the Brugge Winter Cobb salad with a side of grilled chicken.   They also have a lunch and a delicious brunch, so hopefully I will be back here again very soon! 

Brugge Frites   Mac and Cheese  Garden Salad
brugge frites               macaroni gratin           house salad

Moules Bowl    Soup   Winter Cobb Salad
moules bowl                curry bean soup          winter cobb salad

Point Brugge Café
401 Hastings St.
Pittsbrugh, PA 15206
412-441-3334
http://www.pointbrugge.com/
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Fish Fry Frydays

February 29, 2008 by

Well it was snowing outside, and the lunch crew was down to just me and Dan.   Kristin wasn’t feeling up for a trip to Stinky’s + Rob and Ned were at a lunch meeting – so we were on our own.   On the way over, Dan was able to talk me into changing it into a trip to Nied’s Hotel.   I had never been there before, but was craving some comfort food possibly in a dive setting.    This fit the bill.… it’s kind of like a Kopecs on steroids.    They were definitely making a mint in the joint.

Nied’s Hotel   Nied’s Hotel   Neid’s Famous Fish

Nied’s has been in business for 60 years, and they have a huge fish sandwich, “Neid’s Famous”  –  8 ounces of hand-breaded, deep-fried fresh cod on a hoagie bun.   The sandwich was enormous, but delicious.    The place was bustling – lots of regulars – must have been the Catholics… plus if you’re interested in getting lottery tickets – you can buy them at the bar.   I ordered up an Iron + a Fish sandwich with cheese and onion rings.   Dan picked a regular fish Sammie with Mac & Cheese.    It was definitely a lot to take down.

 Fish Sandwich    Nied’s Fish Sandwich   Mac and Cheese

The place was the definition of old school.   It was grimy and old, like in your grandparents’ bar in the basement – no natural light – a place where a vampire could drink irons all day.    I loved it…. And it’s in my backyard.

Size Chart    
how big is it?

Nied’s Hotel
5438 Butler St
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
412-781-9853
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Headwich Heaven

February 28, 2008 by

Today we managed to drive out to the Southside in order to preview a new potential office space.     Well most people already know about this restaurant, but this post is a eulogy to Fatheads, the mecca of beer and sandwich lovers.    I love this place!   It’s definitely a must-see for any visitor that wants to get an unique taste of the burgh.    The restaurant has a livin-it-large tap selection of micro-brew beers and their sandwiches are ginormous –  heavily packed with meat and cheeses.    Great names like the Artery Clogger.   Popularity does have its’ price, you will always have to wait for a table.      Even at lunch, it was packed – we had to wait about 10 mins – whereas at other establishments, it’s very easy to get seated during the lunch hr.

 tap list    guiness    sandwiches  
tap-istry                       interior shot          sandwich trunks

We had six people in our group so we ended up splitting to two tables.     In our table, Rob got the Beauty and the Beasty, which is a pulled pork sandwich covered with their Beast BBQ (Super Hot) sauce with slaw, pickles & onions.     Dan got The Southside Slopes which is one of their most popular and probably deadliest sandwiches with kielbasa topped with fried pierogies, American cheese, grilled onions, and horsey sauce.    Finally, I got the Fuddwich, which has corned beef, turkey, salami, provolone and Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, hot cherry pepper mayo.   You can get it hot or cold… I opted for the dish best served cold.

Beauty and the Beastie  Southside Slopes Sandwich   Fuddwich Sandwich
beauty & beastie       southside slopes          fuddwich

I may not be able to eat for a few days, but it was a lunch to remember!    Now back to the board room….

Crazy Karl      Gigantic Talking Turkey Sub
crazy karl says              put some mustard
meeeh                           on it!!!

Fatheads
1805 E Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 431-7433
http://www.fatheads.com
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Happy Lunar New Year!

February 22, 2008 by

In an effort to visit our favorite Vietnamese establishment, Tram’s Kitchen, was closed for the first day of the Lunar New Year. Fate inevitably stepped in and led us to Garfield and to a place I once visited a few years ago, Pho Minh. The Moon was favorably looking down on us this day. Very quaint like Tram’s but all the servers had both of their limbs, which was a plus. To start our lunch, we ordered vegetarian spring rolls…a staple for the group. In comparison, the rolls were a big larger, however not rolled nearly as tight as Tram’s. Advantage: Tram’s.

Pho Mihn Spring Rolls

Lunch orders included Rob’s Spicy Meatball soup, Brian’s Saigon soup, & Kristin’s Chicken & Lemon Grass soup:

Spicy Meatball #1    Spicy Meatball #2    Saigon Soup    chicken and lemongrass

All of the soups trumped Tram’s…a feat never thought would happen. Although my spicy meatball had a little too much cilantro (of which i’m not a total fan), it was highly flavorful and loaded with Vietnamese happiness. Advantage: Pho Minh. My ONLY complaint was the fact that the server didn’t refill my water…so i took things into my own hands:

rambo

Needless to say, i had all the water i needed for the rest of my meal, but they became one server short that day. Looks like we have a new favorite in the Vietnamese department…sorry Tram’s, but nothing lasts forever.

Tram’s Protest    sign   inside

Pho Minh
4917 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
412) 661-7443
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Amigos, it’s Taco Tuesday!

February 19, 2008 by

Today we headed to the Strip with cravings for Taco Tuesday.   It’s all-you-can eat fish tacos for $8.50.   Rob and Ned found out about it last week, and I had been craving the Penn Avenue Fish Company.     So the two forces had to collide on this day.  

It’s a nice joint – part fish market, part lunch place… with some great chowder, sushi, and especially their fish tacos!   They are delicious.   The tacos have an unorthodox mix of three different fishes: salmon, tuna, and mahi on a crispy shell with cabbage, tomato, and Sriracha hot sauce.   

pennave_bass.jpg   Tuna Melt   Fish Tacos
yes, i can talk tony      tuna melt                    keep em coming

Even though there wasn’t table service, you place your order at the front – they bring your meal plus come around to see if you wanted more fish tacos.   Now, if only they had a conveyor belt.   Conveyor belts aren’t used enough around here.      I was starving, so I picked up two more for a total of six.    The tacos are small, and even after six, I felt great afterwards.     Rob, Ned, and I got the Taco Tuesday special while Kristin opted for the Tuna Melt, which got a great review.     Dan was MIA for today.

If you love fish, this place is definitely the lunch joint to go to.   The fish is delicious!

Taco Town
this could be us – taco town baby!

Also I noticed they are doing some cooking classes with wine pairing every Wednesday from 7-8p.      The list sounded great.   Check by the shop for a schedule of classes.

Penn Ave Fish Company
2208 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 434-7200
http://www.pennavefishcompany.com
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Ich scheiße eine Salzbrezel an der Allegheny Taverne von Max heute voll…

February 18, 2008 by

Loosely translated…”We went to eat at Max’s Allegheny Tavern today”. Well, that’s not exactly what is says, but it’s close. Kristin’s suggested journey to the Fatherland was a true flashback to happy German times. CooCoo clocks, beer steins, creepy old pictures, and new carpeting welcomed us as we sat down in North Side’s top-notch German restaurant. Gretel took our orders: We started with the best thing they have on the menu….3 orders of the stuffed pretzels. Served with a special honey mustard horseradish sauce, which i’m told they make from scratch on premise. This pretzel is the closest i’ll ever get to smoking crack cocaine.

Stuffed Pretzel Stuffed Pretzel 2

Rob’s Turkey Reuben (forgot to get pic:(), Dan’s Ham & Swiss Sandwich, Brian’s Goulash, Kristin’s & Ned’s Open-face Turkey Sandwiches:

Ham & Cheese Goulash Turkey

I think this place is haunted…as you’ll see from this picture:

ghost

As you can plainly witness, the light emitting from the picture of the old man. It wasn’t there when i took the picture. Only two things could have caused this….first, it’s the ghost of Heinrich Von Stein who haunts the beer stein table or it’s a hallucination from the pretzel mustard gas emitting from our table. Either way…totaly creepy. Also on the menu, although not ordered was another delicacy, the hot dog:

Hot Dog

Great food, a North Side staple establishment…another SpaceBoy favorite.

Max’s Allegheny Tavern
537 Suismon Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212-4924
(412) 231-1899
http://www.maxsalleghenytavern.com/
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Must like Sushi and Long Walks on the Beach…

February 15, 2008 by

Our usual crew was down to three today.   Rob and Dan were out with the stomach flu again.   Time after time, I’ve told them to stop making out with each other.    Dan is the lunch dictator for only eating greasy comfort food.   You need to branch out a little!    Kristin is still grumbling about our trip down Kopec’s lane.   Since Dan was out of the picture, the group suddenly is enabled to try more challenging meals – which we relish in.   Did I mention that I love sushi!   It’s my favorite food out of everything – yes, even pizza.    It’s been about a month since we were there at Sushi Kim in the Strip…  so it felt about time.. usually sushi trips also revolve around paydays, because it can get a bit pricey.    Sushi had Ned’s vote so we were off to the races!

Sushi Kim     Sushi    Rainbow Sushi Roll   
so hungee                     uss enterprise            wasabi challenge      

There’s a method to ordering sushi.   Always go for the big boats.   Usually two hungry people can down a boat, then if there’s an odd person, we can add on a side platter like spicy tuna rolls.   We ordered the 38 piece “aircraft carrier”, which was too much for a boat… so it came on a round platter.   In addition, we added a spicy rainbow roll, which has a thin strip of fish along the outside of the roll.    We started off the meal with some yummy edamame and miso soup.    Delicious Friday meal to roll into the weekend!    Dan and Rob, wish you were here.

Sushi Kim
1241 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222   
(412) 281-9956
http://www.sushikim.com/
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Sushi Kim
just ate nemo

Ned Gets My Sloppy Sopes…

February 11, 2008 by

It was really strange….i had a dream where the rivers ran green with guacamole and Mexican servers attended to my every need. A virtual burrito paradise engulfed my inner being…and then i woke up on Smithfield Street. Mexico City…the restaurant, not the city is the quintessential escape to all things Mexican. Authentic meals prepared by only the best Pittsburgh Mexican folk. The service is tremendous, the food is excellent, the heartburn is real. This isn’t a new destination for our blogging crew, but rather a new post on an old favorite. On today’s menu: Ned’s Chicken Burrito, Rob’s Black-n-Gold Burrito (Carne Asada), and Brian’s Veggie Fajitas.

Salsa & Chips Chicken Burrito Black-n-Gold Burrito Veggie Fajitas

Honorable mention…the fresh Guacamole wasn’t ordered today:( It is…BY FAR…the best appetizer at this restaurant. Brian’s been watching his girlish figure lately, so we decided against it today. Today’s experience was so enlightening that Ned is learning to speak Spanish, fortunately for him, one of the young, supple servers is helping him with language lessons. Unfortunately for her, he’s paying her in Pesos. Pablo rating: 3 claws up!

Mexico City Tacos & Burritos
111 Smithfield St

Pittsburgh
, PA 15222

(412) 391-2591
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Fun fact: Avocados are poisonous to Parrots (sorry Pablo)

Pablo

Italian Time Warp

February 10, 2008 by

This weekend experience brought me down to Wheeling again to celebrate Walt’s birthday.  That’s Lisa’s Dad. Her nephew Ethan was also along for the ride with his parents + Lisa’s sister Lara.  Ethan is typically the star of the show – so that’s all you really need.  He’s a very active and cute 1 yr old.  We were having fun with Ethan trying out olives for the first time and squirming at sucking on lemon slices.  He’s the next generation food critic.

We went to Bella Via, which is an old Italian restaurant – that is happily still stuck in a time warp.  It has a 60-70s décor, but still has a family friendly atmosphere that has been catering to the locals for over 55 years!  Usually we go to the other restaurant in the neighborhood, Figaretti’s, but this one is equally great in its own unique way.  One specialty is its pasta. Bella Via makes homemade noodles that are delicious.  I didn’t photo everyone’s meal, but I had shrimp sauce with homestyle noodles, which was awesome and filling.  It’s Walt’s favorite there.  It had lots of shrimp and green peppers.  Lisa had the manicotti noodles.

Bella Via Restaurant
1 Burkham Ct
Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 242-8181
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Bella Via    Shrimp Sauce Noodles    Bella Via

mama mia                    shrimp sauce               family table

Ethan    Bella Via Manicotti     Walt’s Cake

food critic             manicotti                        happy b-day!