In June of 2009, I relocated to the leafy, transit-friendly borough of Dormont. Here is what I knew about Dormont upon moving to this friendly neighborhood:
– For the same price as a crappy one-bedroom in other parts of Pittsburgh proper, I could afford a fairly nice two bedroom apartment. Fairly nice meaning that, unlike my last place in Bloomfield, this place had working heat, solid insulation, and was not mice infested. (No offense to you, Bloomfield. I still miss many of your positive aspects, but your steeply rising residential prices is not one of them.)
– Like I mentioned before, transit friendly. Public transportation is far from perfect in this town, but the trolley is a pretty handy way of getting around. Even having to transfer from T to bus, my commute was just about the same as going to the South Side from Bloomfield on the 54C.
– Green, glorious green! There are parks aplenty in Pittsburgh, but for two solid years of living in the East End, I didn’t have anything resembling a yard. Oh, how I missed trees!
I had a lot more to learn about my new neighborhood, starting with essential information such as the closest post office, the location and hours of the local library, where the closest grocery store was, where the closest beer distributor was – you know, the essentials. And I had to learn the dining options.
I’m not equipped to properly document the culinary wonders of Dormont. But I’d like to highlight a few great places to eat, say you’re on this side of town:
Mekong – Maybe it’s because my belly is currently filled with their delicious food, but Chinese food at this low price rarely gets as good as this. The owners are really friendly, the environment dining in is low key, and the food is all made in-house from classic and family recipes. Pittsburghers love their General Tsos, and you can get some of the best here, but for my money, nothing is quite as good as the Cantonese Chow Mein with fried tofu. 1429 Potomac Avenue
Dor-Stop – If you haven’t dined at the Dor-Stop, you’re missing out on one of the very best diners in town. Open for breakfast and lunch, this place gets packed on weekends and it’s easy to understand why: big fluffy omelets, pancakes of all flavors, and a savory sandwich and entree menu that has no weak spots. The potato pancake is king here, a surprisingly delicate, yet satisfying shredded potato cake, cooked perfectly and serving as a ideal side to almost any item on the menu. 1423 Potomac Ave
Tom’s – Like Ritter’s is for Bloomfield residents, Tom’s is for Dormont: a 24-hour diner that feels like every bit the institution it is. The menu is maybe too wide-ranging (stick to sandwiches, breakfast foods, and appetizers, cause the entrees are kind of weak), the coffee is standard, and it can be rather slow on busy nights, but as far as all-night places go, Tom’s holds undeniable appeal. 2935 W. Liberty Avenue
Dormont Dogs – Who doesn’t crave a good hot dog now and then? Several years ago, hot dog shops started popping up in every Pittsburgh neighborhood, from the standard (Packs and Dogs) to the unusual (Franktuary). Dormont Dogs has all the usual suspects: hot dogs, chili dogs, chili-cheese dogs. From there, things get interesting. You can get a Connecticut Dog, with coleslaw, baked beans and onions, make things spicy with a Louisiana Dog, or just throw caution to the wind and embrace gluttony with The Dog Father, a hot dog complete with pepperoni, salami, mozzarella, romaine, and banana peppers. Chips, potato salad, and other side options are available, and thankfully, veggie dogs are available. 2911 Glenmore Ave
Knosso’s – Okay, confession: My favorite Pittsburgh gyro place is in Brookline and will absolutely be featured on this blog. But if you’re in Dormont and hungry for some greasy, sloppy Greek food, you could do a lot worse than Knosso’s. Sandwiches, fried veggies, pierogi, it’s all there, reasonably priced and a perfect fix for late-night, beer fueled hunger pains. 1439 Potomac Ave
Fredo’s – Since the ownership changed last Spring, Fredo‘s has held more consistent hours, increased the size and scope of their menu, and now also stocks a variety of Eastern European groceries. They also added wireless internet access! If they had a few more veggie options, I’d be there twice a week. In addition to a roomy front seating area, there’s a big room in the back available for reservation. We don’t have a traditional coffee shop in Dormont (not yet), but as coffee shop-deli hybrids go, this one is top-notch. 1451 Potomac Ave
Because there is something like twelve pizzerias in a square mile, I’ll be doing a comprehensive look at Dormont’s pizza shops later this month. As for fancy dining in the borough, there isn’t much to speak of – you can stroll up West Liberty Avenue to Cafe J or Trattoria, but your best bet is to move into Mount Lebanon, or better yet, head in the opposite direction for a classy, intimate dining environment at Davio on Broadway Avenue in Beechview (2100 Broadway Ave.) .