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Ten Pgh Kid Friendly eateries @PipersPub @MadMexShadyside @HoughsPGH @WafflesINCaffein @MartysMarketPGH @EatnPark

Ten Pgh Kid Friendly eateries @PipersPub @MadMexShadyside @HoughsPGH @WafflesINCaffein @MartysMarketPGH @EatnPark

Before having a kid, I never wanted kids in my presence. Restaurants were not places for kids. Ever. Can’t they just get a babysitter. Now that I have a whippersnapper, my perspective has softened a little. There better not be an anklebiter in sight when I visit somewhere quiet, fancy and expensive. Everywhere else, though, as long as kids aren’t in my face, they can do whatever they want (and really, there are plenty of grown ups as obnoxious as adults).

In determining whether a restaurant is good for kids, I consider:

1. What’s the noise level? You want the answer to be “loud.” Because kids are LOUD. If everyone else is loud too, it’s not too big of a deal.

2. What’s the menu like? They don’t absolutely need to have chicken fingers and fries, but taking your kid to a place that only offers oysters and filet is bound to result in tears from everyone.

3. Do the servers have experience with kids? There are little things that a server can do that can transform dining out with a child from tolerable to awesome. These things include: taking the order for the kids meal as quick as possible, bringing the kid’s food as fast as possible, removing all kinds of breakable and sharp things from the table, bringing extra napkins, serving the kid’s drink in a kid-friendly cup, and smiling.

With those qualities in mind, some of our favorite kid-friendly Pittsburgh restaurants are:

1. Piper’s Pub.

Piper’s is awesome for the whole family. With a focus on Scottish, English and Irish food, you can expect lots of meat, potatoes and cheese here. Who DOESN’T like that stuff? They have an awesome beer selection, including all kinds of great local and microbrews on tap. Yes, it’s basically a pub, but their staff is all around some of the friendliest and kindest restaurant staff in the City for dealing with kids. Also, if you’re a soccer fan, Piper’s is the place to be. They broadcast all kinds of games from all over the world.

2. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal on McKnight Road does have a normal menu, but it’s best to visit on the nights they have a dinner buffet. You may think that Indian food might be a little exotic for American toddler palates, but look at the individual dishes: kids love rice. Pakora is deep fried veggies, and kids love everything deep fried. There are meats and veggies and puddings. Taj Mahal is a favorite destination for outings with the Orange Chair Blog family, and we put dishes of food out for our kids and haven’t had a problem. They do have a liquor license, but you can also BYOB with a small corkage fee. The place is always tightly packed with families, and the atmosphere is very welcoming to small kids.

3. Mad Mex

It’s always ear-blastingly loud in Mad Mex, and no one even noticed when we went there for my birthday dinner our first year with Baby Beez and she would  NOT stop crying. Under most other circumstances we would have gotten the stink-eye and had to pack right up and head home, but at Mad Mex no one even noticed the noise. I was able to enjoy my Gobblerito and margarita while Mr. Beez walked around with the cranky litltle one. As Baby Beez has gotten bigger, Mad Mex has remained on our short list of favorites. They have some kids options, but we usually just get her an order of black beans and an order of rice, and she’s pleased.

Mad Mex Gobblerito

4.  Houghs

Houghs is the only bar in Greenfield that doesn’t scare me. And it’s a pretty cool place in its own right. The seating is a free for all, so you do need to get there early to get a table. They have a kids menu, but their menu also focuses on typical bar food (lots of fried things), so there are plenty of kid-friendly options. Their beer selection is unbelievable, and the last time we were there, I had a grilled veggie sandwich that was just fantastic.

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5. Max’s Allegheny Tavern

Max’s has been around for ages and doesn’t get a lot of buzz, but it’s fantastic. It’s in the Deutschtown section of the Northside, and it’s simultaneously got the laid-back feeling of a local bar, but a great belly-warming menu of German food. Sausage and potato pancakes are menu staples, so again, they’ve got a selection that is pleasing to the small people. Bonus- because it’s on a side street, it’s pretty much the easiest place to find on-street parking ever. They also have a great but totally random brunch. It’s like they think of everything in the kitchen and make it all. The last time we went (several years ago, admittedly), they had waffles, sausage & sauerkraut, lasagna, and breakfast pastries. Also, get the pretzels. They are the BEST.

6. Green Pepper

Green Pepper does not have the typical loud atmosphere that I would attribute to being “kid friendly.” However, every time we’ve been there, we’ve been dining early, and the place is pretty empty so we’re not disturbing anyone. Their food is awesome and their bar prices are very reasonable, and you can even BYOB for a small corkage fee. Their website and menu are kind of goofy with all kinds of strange disclaimers, but don’t let that deter you. Green Pepper is great, and we’ve been consistently happy with their food, service, and atmosphere. Although we’ve never taken part, they DO have karaoke in the back room. Baby Beez is a little young for this now, but when she gets a little bigger, dinner and a few songs would be a fun family outing.

Bibim bap at Green Pepper in Squirrel Hill

7. Waffles INCaffeinated

What kid doesn’t like waffles? BOOM.

WafflesINC

8. Burgatory

Their infamously long waits and refusal to take reservations makes this option a little dicey, but we’ve always gone to the Robinson location (usually as a special homecoming treat after returning home from the airport) and have not gotten stuck with a wait. This place has burgers, fries, and plenty o’ noise, so it’s a good pick for kids. Also, the shakes. Ohhh the shakes, so delicious.

Milkshake for dinner, awwww yeah @burgatorybar

9. Marty’s Market Cafe

With this being a cafe inside of a grocery store, it’s a more flexible atmosphere if your little one gets squirrely. They have breakfast and lunch options, all of which are fresh and tasty, and plenty of options that are recognizable to the young palate. Their coffee bar is, quite frankly, rockin. I love that I can get an expert brew, feed my kid, and pick up a pint of Jeni’s all in one fell swoop.

martysmarket

10. Eat N Park

Because what would this list BE without that Pittsburgh institution? Say what you will about EnP, but grilled stickies a la mode are amazing, and there’s just something great about reliably being able to go to a place where it’s totally OK if your kid is melting down, because someone else’s kid probably is too. The food is not haute cuisine, but there is plenty of stuff there that kids love, it’s cheap, it’s easy, there are smiley cookies, and the old lady servers always love to fawn over little kids. So yes. I do love you EnP.

eat n park

Where do you like to take your kids to eat in the ‘burgh?

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Every Day Comfort Food at Everyday Noodles

I watch too much Travel Channel. WAY too much Travel Channel. And ages ago I saw one of those millions of programs that features someone traveling around and eating things, and they ate soup dumplings, and Immediately I knew OMG I NEEDED TO HAVE THOSE.

Except soup dumplings were nowhere to be found in Pittsburgh. We have pretty a pretty diverse food culture, but soup dumplings were nowhere to be found. And I had a big sad. I did briefly contemplate driving to DC or NYC or wherever might have them, because yes, I am that kind of person who will drive long distances for a specific food item. Before I got around to planning out a trip, TA DA, Everyday Noodles opened in Squirrel Hill and SAVED THE DAY!

Watching Noodles Being Made at Everyday Noodles

Dinner and a Show: Front Row to the Noodle Making


All of Everyday Noodles’ noodles are made in house. This means 2 things: (1) they are super fresh and delicious, and (2) they won’t sell you take-out. Wah.  Apparently the owners don’t want you to have anything less than a stellar noodle experience, so you’ve got to go to them to get what you want.  This gave me a big sad one day when I was feeling sickly and noodles and broth would have made it all better (but given that Squirrel Hill is just covered in noodles eateries, Mr. Beez was able to easily find an adequate substitute).

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Everyday Noodles

Everyday Noodles is a small venue with lots of two-seater tables (that can be combined to seat 4, 6, etc) and one large table.  They had a brisk business when we were there, but it wasn’t crazy packed. If you’re a party of two, it’s easier for them to get you to a table.  Because we were three, they had to do some seating acrobatics to get two 2-tops together so we had to wait a little bit (maybe 10 minutes).  The hostess was very conscientious and communicated well with us to explain why some parties of two got seated more quickly, etc.  Those kinds of seating difficulties are inherent to the restaurant business, and I did appreciate that the hostess communicated with us about when tables were expected to free up and in what order.  In general I found the service to be kind, attentive and friendly.

Mr. Beez ordered a spicy beef noodle soup.  He likes spicy food, but this was spicy even for him.  He was very happy with it, although he had to eat it slowly because it was spicy spicy.

Minced Pork and Rice at Everyday Noodles

We ordered the minced pork & rice dish for Baby Beez.  I was SUPER THRILLED to see the marinated egg on her plate because I love those things (even though they look yucky).  Boo hoo for me, she felt the same way, and she gobbled it all up.  I guess she gets first dibs since it’s on her plate and all.  The minced pork and rice were good, but the noodles are truly the specialty of Everyday Noodles, so it would be a shame to pass over those delicious noodles for a good but unexciting dish.

Tofu Nuggets at Everyday Noodles

We ordered a side of the tofu nuggets with our meal as well. I expected this dish would be trying to be chicken nuggets, but it really wasn’t.  The tofu was actually silken tofu that is coated and fried.  The result is a crispy, thin outer coating and the nugget itself is creamy.  The sauce is salty and sweet, and the texture a little strange but addicting.  It’s weird but good.

Crab and Pork Soup Noodles at Everyday Noodles

Crab and Pork Soup Noodles at Everyday Noodles

And the star of the evening: the soup dumplings!  I expected these to be little more than a novelty.  I imagined biting in to one, soup spraying everywhere and scalding my throat, and me chewing and gasping “Aren’t these things crazy?!”  It was nothing like that at all, actually. These were not a novelty food, they were a solid, delicious belly-warming comfort food.  OMG they were good.  I did let them cool a few minutes before chowing down, so when I bit into one my throat didn’t get all burned up.  But the soup and the crab and pork filling and the ginger and the sauce together were like taking the best, super-chunky bite in a bowl of soup.  I need more soup dumplings in my life. I am not the kind of person who orders the same dish every time I go to a restaurant.  I’m the one who always likes to try something new, so even if I really like a dish, I rarely order it multiple times.  I loved these soup dumplings so much, though, that I can’t imagine having the opportunity to eat soup dumplings and picking something else instead.

Everyday Noodles on Urbanspoon


EDITED TO ADD:  I have been informed that the no-carry-out policy they had when they first opened (the experience described above was in the first week or two the place was open) has since been repealed, and now they will allow you to order carry out.  I can’t imagine soup dumplings would hold up too well on a drive home, though.

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Comfort Food, All the Way @BurgatoryBar

I planned to do a post that is actually not about food today, but then the snow came pouring down, and it’s so cold and dreary out, that I just couldn’t help myself.  It’s time for comfort food.

When Pittsburgh jumped on the burger craze bandwagon a couple years back, the local burger mainstays of Tessaro’s and Fat Heads were joined by the likes of BRGR, Burgatory and Wingharts Burger and Whiskey Bar.  I’ve diligently made my rounds to all of them, and must say that Burgatory is my favorite.  The downside of Burgatory is that it seems to be everyone’s favorite.  The last time I wanted to go there for dinner on a Saturday night, I looked up their online reservation page and the wait was five hours.  Suspecting that this absolutely must be some kind of website glitch (why would a restaurant even keep a five hour waiting list?) I called. It wasn’t a glitch. The wait really was five hours.  Needless to say, we didn’t get dinner there that night, and we don’t have the opportunity to go very often.

On the way home from the airport on Monday evening, I needed Burgatory. Like to my very core. There would be no making it home if there was no stop at Burgatory first.  Lucky for us, at 7 pm on this Monday evening, there was no wait whatsoever. 

I spend entirely too much time reading and drooling over the specials listed in Burgatory’s twitter feed.  I was dying to have the Chai shake that was on special for last weekend, but sad for me, the weekend shake specials really are limited to the weekend.  I was brokenhearted, but opted for the Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte shake instead, spiked nicely with Amaretto.  It was sweet and creamy and everything that makes an excellent shake excellent.  I’m usually a chocolate shake drinker, but the almond flavor of this shake was delightful.  My only complaint about the shake is that I can’t finish it without getting ill.  The shake is enormouse milkshake size, and comes with the mixer cup with even more shake in it.  It’s perfect for sharing, but Mr. Beez and I don’t have matching shake tastes. It would be perfect if they could offer a 12 oz mini shake.  Until then, I’ll just have to leave a lot of shake pathetically un-drunk. Ah well.

Back home in Pgh. We do things deliciously here. @burgatorybar

I love that they offer a make-your-own burger option, with a huge variety in toppings, sauces, rubs, etc.  Too bad for me that I get too excited about ALL THE TOPPINGS and want everything, and inevitably end up with some disgusting combination of like guacamole, pancetta and a fried egg with kona coffee rub.  Yeesh.  Mr. Beez goes for the pick-your-own menu, and since I am unskilled at such selections, I stick to the menu.  I went for the Meat Your Maker burger, which featured dry aged wagyu beef with a sweet onion crust, gruyere, roasted tomatoes, field greens and truffled shallot aioli.  It was heavenly. I could go for another one right now.

http://instagram.com/p/WdSrjLQmem/

Because Mr. Beez and I fail at parenting (or from Baby Beez’ perspective, we are awesome) we let Baby Beez have her own vanilla milkshake.  This meant that she totally ignored her hot dog, carrots, and chips. But I guess it’s not all a loss. She got plenty of dairy that night from the shake. Healthy bones, healthy teeth, folks!

Milkshake for dinner, awwww yeah @burgatorybar

Burgatory Bar on Urbanspoon

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A Romantic Evening at Brasserie 33

Brasserie 33 constantly runs Groupon specials for a price fixe dinner or lunch.  In general, I’ve found that restaurants begrudgingly accept Groupons.  Such is not the case with Brasserie 33.  They are thrilled to have their Groupon patrons! And don’t let the price fixe setup scare you away, either– the price fixe menu features the restaurants best loved dishes in ample portions.

I love that Brasserie 33 has a small wine list, but that you can also bring your own, with a small corkage fee.  You can’t have a French meal without wine, and our wine fridge has been overflowing lately (yes, we are wine fridge people…truth be told, we have two wine fridges!) so it was nice to have the luxury of a dinner out but also get to enjoy some of that wine that has been crowding up the house.

The price fixe menu includes the selection of a soup or salad, an appetizer to share, an entree and a dessert.  Each dish we tried was rich, flavorful and all around delicious.

I started my meal with the French Onion Soup.

French onion soup at Brasserie 33

This soup was perfect.  The only potential downside was that it was extremely filling.  In my typical style, I couldn’t bear to only eat some of it.  I ate it all, and as a result was already pretty full by the time we moved on to the starters.

For our starter, we shared the escargot.  I can’t recall what all the options were, but Mr. Beez and I did have quite a time trying to decide between them.

Escargot at Brasserie 33

The escargot was a bit heavy with garlic, but it was prepared well and very tasty.

For my entree, I had the blanquette de veau.

Veal stew at Brasserie 33

Oh wow was this amazing.  It is an absolutely perfect comfort food. The stew was creamy and the flavors subtle.  I was pretty full even by the time I started this, but the taste was so delicious that I ate it slowly, waiting for digestion to give me just a little more room in my belly to keep eating.  Slowly but surely, I finished the whole darn thing.  I needed a nap afterward, boy did I ever.

Mr. Beez opted for the cassoulet, and he was extremely pleased with his selection as well

Brasserie 33

Again, Brasserie 33 was right on the mark with a flavorful offering that warmed the belly.

Even though we hardly had room for dessert, we stubbornly refused to depart without indulging in sweets.  I went for my usual favorite of a creme brulee and a coffee.  The custard was cold and crust was sweet and crispy, so delicious.

The staff was friendly and attentive, quick to fill our glasses, and eager to make sure that we were enjoying our meal.  We had a truly lovely date.  I noticed that there were several negative reviews on UrbanSpoon, and found our experience was not at all like the bad customer service described.  Our visit was very early in the evening with all the olds, so we avoided the issue of a busy or overwhelmed staff.  I’m an old boring lady and like going to dinner early anyway.  I’m too hungry to wait til 8pm to eat!

Brasserie 33 on Urbanspoon

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A Belly-Filling Brunch .@TinFrontCafe

A few weeks back, the Beez family piled into the car, rolled down the High Level Bridge, and joined friends for brunch at the Tin Front Cafe. Baby Beez is an early napper and brunch time tends to be the witching hour.    We got lucky on this particular Sunday and she behaved more like a baby than a banshee. We managed to have a charming brunch.

I kicked things off with a generously-portioned bloody mary.

Bloody Mary from tin front cafe!

Salty, tomato-y and all things wonderful.  They also offer one with horseradish infused vodka, but I was afraid that the kick was more than my delicate sinuses could handle.

The Tin Front Cafe has a varied menu of hearty stick-to-your ribs vegetarian fare, but I also love that they have a small buffet that goes along with your brunch entree.  On this particular day they offered chili with chili-toppings and cornbread, potatoes, salad, cookies and to die for banana chocolate chip mini muffins.  The mini buffet was a lifesaver for brunching with a toddler.  Toddlers, and Baby Beez is no exception, are not known for their patience when hungry. We always order for her as soon as we are seated, but it was nice to be able to give her some food immediately.

Tin front cafe

For my entree I went for the polenta with ratatouille and veggie sausage.  It was a very cold day outside, and this selection was delicious and belly filling.

Polenta, ratatouille and veggie sausage at Tin Front Cafe

Along with the typical brunch fare of french toast, pancakes etc, there was a breakfast burrito on that menu that I was dying to try (next time! next time!). As Greenfielders, Tin Front is super close in Homestead.  The on street parking is very easy on Sunday mornings.  The cafe staff were friendly and attentive.  The cafe was all around excellent.  Tin Front is a brunch gem.
The Tin Front Cafe on Urbanspoon