April 26, 2010

Pittsburgh Favorites

Cappicola & Egg from Primanti Brothers




Last weekend, I made a pilgrimage back to my Alma Mater to join in the 2010 Spring Carnival festivities. Basically, it's four solid days of seeing old friends and eating good food. After being away from Pittsburgh for several years, I had grown nostalgic for my collegiate cravings. Thus, I opted to revisit some old favorite hang out / eat out spots. Here's what I was able to check off given amount of time:

Primanti Brother's Oakland: Before this "almost famous" local sandwich shop became the hottest place to feature on Food Network and the Travel Channel, my friends and I knew it as the ultimate late-night-munchies Pitt stop. This weekend, it was our first food destination. I ordered the Capicola & Cheese sandwich with egg (supposedly the chef's personal favorite) and a "small" 18-oz Yuengling. All of Primanti's sandwiches are "topped" with fries and coleslaw too, which requires a bit of guts, let alone a big mouth. My Capicola & Cheese w/ Egg really hit the spot, but I was only able to finish half. After wrapping the rest up to go and having B finish my beer, we headed out to wander the campus. BTW: 24-oz Yuengling for under $3. I am serious. You cannot NOT get it.

Lulu's Noodles: This quasi-trendy/casual pan-Asian joint is conveniently located just outside of the main campus, plus around the corner from PHI Bar. I've scarfed down their Hong Kong Chow Fun Beef, LuLu's Pan Fried Noodles, and pan-fried gyozas more times than I've probably gone to class. Okay, maybe not that many... but it helps to illustrate its deliciousness. True to tradition, I ordered the dumplings and the pan fried noodles. The meat/veggies/sauce are kept in a separate container so that you can decide to either pour it all over the nest of crispy noodles or ration it for multiple meals. However, I personally find it impossible to resist the plump and flavorful Shiitake mushrooms, crisp snow peas, sauteed greens and chicken. 

Mad Mex: There are many reasons why Mad Mex is usually packed with college kids. Great food, nice atmosphere, and really "Big Azz" 22-oz Margaritas for $7 during 4:30-6:30pm on weekdays and 9-12pm daily. There are four fruit flavors to choose from—strawberry, raspberry, mango and kiwi—or any combination of two. I personally like strawberry kiwi or plain mango. I ordered a Big Azz mango margarita and the Shrimp, Spinach and Mushroom Quesadilla. B ordered the mountainous Nacho Grande. The flavor combination was spot on; it was the perfect meal and starter drink to a whirlwind night...

The Original Hot Dog Shop: Somewhere between one bar and another, B and I found ourselves splitting three classic hot dogs from the "O." Many consider this establishment as the cornerstone of Pittsburgh eats. Once you take a peek at their famous/notorious "O" fries (which often is piled on top of a salad), you'll understand why. When I was in college, the O actually had a small shop in the University Center... Terrible idea. Fortunately, it has been long replaced by a healthier option. I personally would opt to have an all-beef dog from Joe's any day, but at 1AM, that option wasn't available.

Pamela's Diner: It was the last morning of Carnival and everyone was running on empty. There was nothing left to do but to wait patiently for a table at Pamela's Diner. This has been a long-standing tradition for many clusters of collegiate friends. There's nothing quite like a cup of their creamy hot chocolate and crepe-style pancakes to mitigate any poor decision making from the night before. I ordered the fresh strawberry-filled hotcakes, which were topped with chilled whipped cream. To cut through the richness, I had a mug of their robustly bold coffee.

Other Goodies: During Carnival, food and drink aren't just limited to the restaurants and bars. There were many other wonderful treats that were experienced along the way. I had a nibble of S's funnel cake at the Carnival snack stand in Midway. There was also the vodka-infused watermelon (which sneakily looks like plain watermelon). Lastly, I can't forget the beer pong and burgers on a cool 70-degree night—that was amazing.

Now that I'm back in NYC and about 10lb heavier, I plan to enjoy the rest of April at the next food adventure: the LUCKYRICE Festival! Use TastingTable's promo "TT" at checkout for a 10% discount off of your tickets. If you're planning to go, be sure to let me know which events you'll be at!

Click for more pics!


Grace said...

I grew up in Pittsburgh and used to go to Mad Mex and The O all the time! I loved the super nachos at Mad Mex and the fries at The O were awesome (although it was quite scary to go in there when I was 10). I haven't been back since I was 18 but these pictures make me want to make a trip to the burgh!

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