Staff Picks: Our favorite local restaurants


Leela Ekambarapu | Senior Staff Photographer

Pamela’s, a diner on Forbes Avenue in Oakland, is a favorite spot for Pitt students.

By The Pitt News Staff

Like businesses across the country, restaurants in Oakland and the surrounding neighborhoods closed in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now our favorite locally owned spots are slowly reopening, and there’s never been a better time to support Pittsburgh’s famous food scene. To showcase local restaurants, here are the top places you’ll find us eating once we’re back on campus.

Oishii Bento // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

To my great displeasure, I did not discover this wonderful Korean place on Oakland Avenue until the second semester of my first year. Instead, I spent my time at Sushi Fuku across the street, which is great, but can hold no candle to Oishii Bento. As far as appearances go, it’s kind of a hole in the wall, but the food is warm, flavorful and perfect for one of those snowy, slushy Oakland winter days. Oishii Bento has traditional Korean staples like bulgogi and multiple dishes featuring kimchi, but what’s best about this place is that you can get a bento box right in the City’s heart. And while every Pitt student has a love for more classic Pittsburgh dishes like pierogis, you just want something different sometimes. At Oishii Bento, there’s a wall’s length of Korean dishes to choose from — a nice change of pace from the dining halls, and a step up from many of the American-centric dining options around campus.

Fuel and Fuddle // Simon Sweeney, Staff Writer

There is absolutely nowhere in Oakland better than Fuel and Fuddle for the balance between “open late,” “cheap” and “extremely good.” With a lively atmosphere and a truly legendary late-night menu –– available from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. –– F&F will quickly become a go-to place for weekend nights when you just can’t force yourself into Market Central for the 12th day in a row and want to be able to shovel food down without breaking the bank. The menu features classic comfort fare from customizable burgers to loaded sandwiches to even more loaded nachos. That the place pulls off both inexpensive and late without sacrificing quality –– the burger is legitimately my favorite in the area –– is pretty much a magic trick. No one should live on campus without having the knowledge that F&F is ready to welcome them, and now you’ve got it. Don’t forget!

Szechuan Express // Maggie Young, Contributing Editor

Every main character in a coming-of-age novel has a Chinese takeout place they love. When I want to feel like the main character in my own life story, my place of choice is Szechuan. Dine-in at this place is minimal — just a few tables — but it’s not somewhere you’ll find people falling in line after a night out in South O, either. It’s more depressingly spontaneous — like on a Wednesday evening after you got a 43% on your calculus test and want to watch a movie in your dorm alone. The menu reads pretty straightforward as far as Chinese restaurants go — General Tso’s, Kung Pao — definitely the kind of place where you order the same thing every time. They give you huge servings with a very modest bill, a dream for 19-year-olds everywhere. The MSGs might weigh you down a bit after, but it’s a delicious decision I make multiple times a month.

Pamela’s // Charlie Taylor, Culture Editor

Nothing tastes quite as perfect late on a Sunday morning as a good diner breakfast, and with a location on Forbes Avenue in Oakland, Pamela’s is the perfect spot for a meal that’s good for the soul and not so great for the arteries. From hashbrowns that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, to their famous thin, lacey-edged hotcakes, the menu boasts nothing but the classics. Although Pamela’s tends to get pretty busy during prime weekend breakfast hours, the staff is great at getting people seated and fed quickly without feeling rushed. Coming from a small town, the whole experience, from the unassuming decor to the expansive menu full of comfort food, reminds me of the little diner in my hometown. There’s a reason why Pamela’s is a favorite spot for Pitt students — it’s reasonably priced, the staff are friendly and the food satisfies every craving. According to Pamela’s Facebook page, the Oakland location reopened June 4, so students won’t have to recover from another long Saturday night without a Pamela’s breakfast.

Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33 // Claire Chuang, For The Pitt News

Asian food is common in the Pittsburgh area — from Sushi Fuku to Pho Van, Noodlehead to Sichuan Gourmet. Walking through nearby Squirrel Hill, there are numerous Asian restaurants ready to serve you classic tastes when you’re craving Asian food. However, if you have some time on your hands and want some authentic Taiwanese food, Cafe 33 on Shady Avenue is for you. During my first year in Pittsburgh I was homesick — homesick for the night-market food xiaochi, wonton noodle soup, scallion pancakes, braised dishes and more that I won’t be able to list here. But Cafe 33 has it all! This one-story restaurant portrays a vintage feel with indoor and outdoor seating. The very first time I stepped into this restaurant, it felt like home to me. I ordered a wonton noodle soup, which was not too salty with a savory taste. The prices are affordable, so anyone who would like to satisfy some cravings for Taiwanese food should try the delectable food served at Cafe 33.