Tag Archives: squirrel hill

Sababa Middle Eastern Grill

When it comes to online coupon deals like Groupon, Townhog, etc, I’ve become a bit of an obsessive. For someone who relishes the chance to try new places to eat, these sites offer daily slices of opportunity. Now, most of the time, the opportunity isn’t something I’m particularly interested in. Many mornings I have rushed to my email to see what is in store for me and my appetite (and my wallet) today, and many mornings I have immediately dismissed the 50% off of manicures, or hot air balloon rides, or new carpeting.

Other mornings, I’ve come across a restaurant deal that sounded pretty appealing, but I hesitated too long, coming back to sign up for it only to find that it had sold out. Groupon, especially, seems to take a sadistic pleasure in disappointing people who are silly enough to pussyfoot around a good deal. (Good deal or not, sometimes it takes a lot of thought before I’m just willing to spend twenty bucks. I don’t have the kind of income level that affords me flippancy with that amount of money. Sorry, Groupon.)

It’s those ten-dollar deals that always get me. Ten for twenty. Not a lot of initial investment, especially when the deal is for a place you’ve been dying to try. Hence, when Townhog was offering a ten for twenty on Sababa Middle Eastern Grill, I jumped so immediately on the deal, my computer shook with fear.

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Chaya Japanese Cuisine


I lived in Squirrel Hill for years and never visited Chaya Japanese Cuisine. When I finally made my first visit last summer – to their new location in what used to be Sweet Basil – I felt a deep, deep remorse for all the times I could have eaten there and did not. Better, in the long run, for my wallet, certainly, but my appetite was left feeling like it had finally found the missing piece.

Chaya is that good. The food is fresh and delicious. The atmosphere is cozy and warm. Stepping into the doors on a freezing, wind-blasting evening was like taking shelter in the storm. There is even a curtain over the front entrance to protect inside of the restaurant from the furious vengeance of the outside winter.

Chaya’s interior is a softly glowing meditation on Japanese iconic images and decor. And despite how small the dining area is, the seating never seems packed. Diners are at a seemingly comfortable distance from one another, yet the restaurant manages to have enough seating to accommodate a large amount of visitors. This is artful, intelligent interior design and perhaps a little chance on my part, because I have never been to Chaya on a really, really busy night. But I have been there at six in the evening on Saturday, and around eight on a Wednesday, and neither hours seemed in want of customers or in want of seating.

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The Local Food Report: Monday, January 10th

Local food news happens all the time, and it’s unbelievable how much you miss if you don’t check out local publications. Recently read something worthwhile? Link it at the bottom!

Oh, Cookie Monster. I really did think it was your year to prove to the world how eloquent you really could be. But as reported by several news outlets, Associated Press being one, 2010’s “Word of the Year” according to the American Dialect Society is “app,” with the delicious, onomatopoetic “nom” (from the sound Cookie Monster makes while eating) finished second. A really interesting article on a year’s worth of current events and culture effect on language and basic communication.

The Tribune-Review gives me further reason to try Sababa Middle Eastern Grill in Squirrel Hill, thanks to a great little feature on the restaurant, its owner, and the details, concerns, and responsibilities of kosher cooking. Plus a recipe for Shakshuka!

– Breaking news from the Trib: Apparently, Pittsburgh is the 5th best city to open a fast food chain. Ew. “The high ranking is a reflection of area’s relatively stable economy and main-street culture,” said Al Beery, a client manager for Pitney Bowes Business Insight, the Troy, N.Y.-based group that created the report. That’s one way to look at it.

– More food-business from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Allegheny County Health Department is proposing a revision to the way they review restaurant cleanliness. A grading system of A-B-C (with anything scoring lower than a C issued a “consumer alert” or shut down entirely) and working out of a point scale of 100 seems practical, but critics argue that the proposal is essentially making it more difficult for restaurants to fail.

– Okay, this really only matters to those of us living in Dormont, but PopCity has a great little news feature on the Sugar Cafe, opening sometime late-January/early-February on Potomac Avenue. [Kelly] James and her husband have been hard at work decorating the 1,200-square-foot space, which now features a blue, black, and white color scheme and seating for 24.  In addition to serving La Prima coffee and all the sweets to go you could ever want, Sugar will be an inviting spot to hang out, have lunch, or grab a quick post-work sandwich.

Speaking personally, they couldn’t have picked a better spot. Last year, while briefly unemployed, I considered how to open up a coffee shop in that very same storefront. It’s space is unique and attractive, it’s location is prime (next to the Potomac T Station, as well as a bunch of apartment buildings), and the growing amount of twenty-somethings in this area insure the need of a neighborhood place that can serve as both eatery and hang out spot. Sweet!

Fiftieth Post! Let’s celebrate with a giveaway and list!

Yep, it’s our fiftieth post. Feels like just yesterday we were squabbling over a blog name, finding pictures of forks, figuring out what the heck we might write about. Ah, those were simpler times. We’d drive the ol’ jallopey to the local hootenany, a community picnic or barbecue, then have  the local artist sketch pictures of our food. Then we’d type out our criticisms of the local farmer’s wife’s apple pie (too crumbly, woman!) and, using a homemade printing press, we’d deliver copies of our newsletter to our reluctant neighbors who believed us to be Commies.

Yes, we’ve come a long way since those dusty dirt roads and ink-stained newsletters. We’re riding fast on the information highway, and nothing is going to stop us now!

To thank the few of you who read us on a regular basis (and the few of you who read us semi-regularly, and the many who have only dropped in for a post or two), I’m announcing the Fifty Post Celebratory Giveaway: Simply post a comment below with your favorite eating place in Pittsburgh (or one of your favorites, you lovely gluttons) and your email address, and I will pick a winner at random.

The winner will receive a dozen homemade cookies and assorted useless trinkets from Dot’s Dollar Store (cheerfull provider of lottery tickets and ugly mugs to the Mt. Lebanon area). I will announce the winner on Monday, November 22.

Also, for our fiftieth post, I thought we’d cobble together a list of our fifty favorite eating spots in Pittsburgh. These are not ranked, just an assorted collection of fifty restaurants (and take-out stands and street -vendors) in Pittsburgh worth giving a try.

Fifty Places to Eat in Pittsburgh
1. Mekong Restaurant 
2. DeLuca’s
3. Enrico Biscotti
4. The Zenith
5. Spak Bros.
6. Spice Island
7. People’s Restaurant
8. Tana Ethiopian
9. Smiling Banana Leaf
10. Dor-Stop Diner
11. It’s Greek to Me
12. Aladdin’s
13. Namaste
14. Cambod-Ican Kitchen
15. Cafe Du Jour
16. Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
17. Six Penn Kitchen
18. Kaya
19. Angelo’s Pizzeria
20. Las Palmas weekend taco stand
21. Bangkok Balcony
22. Chicken Latino
23. Tram’s Kitchen
24. Molly Brannigan’s
25. Dormont Dogs
26. Coriander Indian Grill
27. J’eet
28. Paris 66
29. Round Corner Cantina
30. Abay’s Ethiopian
31. Conflict Kitchen
32. Rocky’s
33. New Amsterdam
34. Thunderbird Cafe
35. Frankie’s Extra Long
36. Gypsy Cafe
37. Tamarind Savoring India
38. Piper’s Pub
39. The Quiet Storm
40. Chaya Japanese Cuisine
41. Thai Cuisine
42. Mexico City
43. D’s Six Pax & Dogz
44. Tessaro’s
45. Crystal
46. Milky Way
47. Casbah
48. Double Wide
49. Big Dog Coffee
50. Sun Penang

Good Morning, Brunch!

In a perfect world, we could all start work at noon, leaving us plenty of time to grab a nice brunch before settling into our work day. While I’ve come around on breakfast – as in, I regularly eat one now – I’m a long time lover of brunchtime, a magical hybrid of breakfast and lunch foods, sometimes with the welcome addition of cocktails, almost always satisfying and cohesive despite its hodgepodge origins. Or, in the immortal words of Jacques, the bowling instructor: “It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would get at breakfast, but you get a good meal!”

It seems that brunch has evolved a great deal since 1990 (although you’re still likely to encounter a fair share of cantaloupe – it just goes with so many flavors). But it no longer seems like an unnecessary blend of breakfast and lunch so much as a meal composed of the best elements of all mealtimes, creating a mealtime tradition that, because it doesn’t happen every day, is special each time it is enjoyed.

From rachelridesthetrain.blogspot.com

I’ve written about The Zenith before, but it had been a while since I paid a Sunday visit. One of the primary reasons is that football season started, and my partner and I were just as content to stay home and watch the games while eating a homemade brunch. But alas, the cupboard was pretty bare this past Sunday, and we were just motivated enough by the cool, drizzling gray November mid-morning that it seemed like the right time to reconnect with one of our favorite brunch spots.

The Zenith brunch was a fine reason for us to get ourselves out of the house this past Sunday morning. If it’s been far too long since you’ve made a brunch trip, here are five other places you might want to give a try: Continue reading