Shadyside, in Pittsburgh's East End, known as Pittsburgh's Greenwich Village in the 1960s and '70s, is a walkable neighborhood with interesting shops, along with bunches of bars and eating places. Parking is at a premium, so you might want to try to park in a centrally located spot so you only have to do it once.
Restaurants in the Shadyside neighborhood are a bit more family-oriented and upscale than in most other neighborhoods in the city outside of the immediate downtown radius. This offers Shadyside diners a broad choice of atmospheres and cuisines.
Since opening in November 2009, this charming American bistro has been receiving rave reviews. It offers a short, printed menu, along with a nice assortment of daily dishes -- displayed on big wall-mounted chalkboards. The food -- even the seafood -- is delightfully fresh, and the restaurant's service and attention to detail complete the delightful dining experience.
This popular Shadyside restaurant is a staple on many best Pittsburgh restaurant lists. It's known for its quality Mediterranean/Southern European cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. It's pricey, but the food is consistently good, and Casbah has one of the best wine lists in Pittsburgh, especially when it comes to wines by the glass, where choice is often somewhat limited. Casbah also prides itself on its craft cocktails and has a long list of desserts and dessert wines. Try the outdoor tented patio for a special dining experience; it's open year-round. Or take a table in the bar or the wine cellar.
One of three Big Burrito-owned restaurants in Shadyside, the upscale Soba is known for its diverse pan-Asian menu. It's housed in a restored Victorian-era row house, but its glass-and-steel staircase and slate water wall speak to another culture and era. For a cozy dining experience, enjoy small plates and unique cocktails while sitting on a cozy leather couch at the downstairs bar or on the second-story deck -- which is open during the summer only.
One of Pittsburgh's favorite sushi restaurants, Umi is all about the art of food. Combine that with modern traditional Japanese decor and impeccable service, and you just can't go wrong. For those who prefer food of the cooked variety, there are many excellent seafood dishes, plus tasty tempura. Expect high prices and a long wait unless you have a reservation.
If you've got a jones for more casual food and surroundings, check out Stack'd, a local chain where you'll find specials every day of the week, from half-price burger and wings nights to half-price drinks nights and discounted mimosas and bloody marys on the weekends. Build your own burger (BYOs) with a gigantic menu of choices, add a shake or spike that shake. Or go for wings, where you'll also find a huge choice of rubs and dips. Top it off with a craft beer. You can choose from the usual suspects for sides and appetizers.
For a kinda sorta offbeat casual dining experience, check out Harris Grill, which is big on stiff drinks, beer and -- bacon, which you can eat right out of a basket. It's free at the bar on Tuesdays and is this restaurant's trademark. You'll also find an original sandwich and burger menu, entrees like nowhere else, craft cocktails -- and the most interesting menu descriptions ever.