Five local spots for the breakfast buff


Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor

Pamela’s Diner on Forbes Avenue.

By Jessica McKenzie, Culture Editor

September is National Better Breakfast Month, and that means the most important meal of the day is indeed more important than ever, especially with the semester back in full-swing. 

If you’re like me, you’re a major breakfast buff who can eat breakfast foods all the livelong day. It’s an amazingly versatile meal, and with that in mind, here are five local breakfast spots with some great options for powering up for the day. 

  1. Pamela’s Diner

This place is a go-to for Pitt students, Pittsburgh natives and tourists alike. Pamela’s is famous for its crepe-styled hotcakes, offering strawberry, blueberry, chocolate chip banana or banana walnut-topped hotcakes. For someone who’s not much of a sweet tooth in the early morning hours, my go-to is the Tex-Mex omelet 一 it does wonders for a hangover. Also, no shame, Pamela’s has the best buttered toast I’ve ever had.

With a location right on Forbes Avenue in Oakland, Pamela’s accepts Pitt dining dollars and is always crowded, but it serves breakfast all day. Plus, the diner also has locations in Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, the Strip District, Millvale and Mt. Lebanon, so if the Pamela’s in Oakland has a long wait, you can explore a different neighborhood and experience the same scrumptious food.

  1. Urban Tap

Most people would think Shadyside’s Urban Tap is a go-to for happy hour and not much else, but they would be surprised to learn that this place offers an impressive brunch menu available every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. As someone who likes to add some spice to my mornings, the breakfast nachos are my go-to. They also offer chicken and waffles, a waffle board, donut holes and a salmon benedict, to name a few additional options.

It would also be a breakfast buff crime not to mention that for folks over 21, there are brunch cocktails available. The last time I went to Urban Tap happened to be Easter Sunday and I had a canterbury egg-flavored martini. The bartender decked the drink out with rainbow sprinkles, which are always great with alcohol. I can only hope they’ll have Halloween-themed brunch cocktails sometime soon.

  1. Ritter’s Diner

This place has a special place in my heart, mostly because whenever I go there I feel like I’m in the diner scene in “Grease.” Ritter’s Diner in Bloomfield is not that far from campus ー just a short bus ride on the 54. It has jukeboxes at every booth, stocked with all of our classic-rock-loving parents’ music (which can be some of the best music, in my opinion). It won Best Diner in Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best of the Burgh’s 2021 competition.

The diner has a rich history 一 it’s a Greek family-owned business that opened in 1951. The Velisaris family, who emigrated to Pittsburgh via Ellis Island earlier that year, incorporates their Greek heritage into some of their menu options, like their Greek feta and hobo omelets. They also offer some distinguished Greek breakfast appetizers, like spanakopita, a spinach pie and dolmathes, seasoned rice-stuffed grape leaves. For people who aren’t Greek food superfans, Ritter’s also serves some great American breakfast dishes, too, like their s’mores pancakes.

Be advised, though, that Ritter’s is still one of those places that only accepts cash. As someone who hardly carries cash anymore, this can be a bit of a pain, but it’s all part of the vintage diner experience.

  1. Waffles Incaffeinated

When I ditched my Eggo toaster waffles for the bananas foster waffles at Waffles Incaffeinated last summer, it confirmed my belief that breakfast can be the best meal of the day. This place pairs waffles with just about anything. The Breakfast Magic menu item tops waffles with bacon, onion and cheddar cheese. There’s also the Souther’ Waffle, which is a waffle filled with chorizo sausage, jalapenos and cheddar cheese, topped with fresh pico de gallo, a fried egg and cilantro. 

Aside from waffles, they also offer breakfast tacos, French toast and crepes. Waffles Incaffeined has locations in South Side, Downtown, Upper St. Clair, Beaver, Wexford and North Huntingdon.

  1. The Thyme Machine

This one’s the breakfast sandwich treasure trove of Bloomfield. Thyme Machine is a food cart on Liberty Avenue that operates from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. They add a chive twist to the classic bacon, egg and cheese. They also offer breakfast sandwiches I’d never heard of before, but which are tasty nonetheless. Some fun options include the heirloom tomato and goat cheese sandwich and fried mortadella, egg and cheese. 

Thyme Machine also offers donuts, coffee and a wide array of lemonades 一 the peach mint lemonade, for example, tastes marvelous on a hot day.