I usually tell anyone who asks that I live in Pittsburgh… but that’s not quite true. I did live in Pittsburgh proper for several years before spending time in a few suburbs. My husband and I have been in Monroeville, a suburb 15 miles east of the city, since 2014. Monroeville is best known for the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead (filmed at our mall). It also pops up in Zack and Miri, a My Chemical Romance song, and a Stephen King novel.
Many people who grew up in this area say that it has been going downhill in recent decades. Admittedly, Monroeville has had quite a few negative news stories break since we moved here. But at the heart of it, Monroeville is a Steelers-loving, yinz-saying neighborhood with a surprisingly good variety of restaurants.
Along Business 22, the main highway you take to drive through Monroeville, you will see a plethora of fast food joints. Taco Bell, Chic-fil-a, McDonalds, it’s the dream of someone headed to Pittsburgh looking for something quick and adequate. When we first moved here, we spent a lot of time dining at these fine establishments, worried about trying local dives and feeling disappointed. How could there be a good Indian restaurant in the suburbs? We’ll stick with Subway. But, of course, the same old same old gets boring pretty quickly, and we started to break out of our shells and get a taste of the local flavor.
It’s been hit and miss, but we’ve discovered some amazing places to eat that are slightly off the beaten path. Here are the places I recommend if you’re making a stop in Monroeville and can’t stomach another Panera panini:
There are several places to get a hoagie, but none are as amazingly delicious as Rudy’s. I typically get the baked Italian, and they usually talk me into a side of fries that I never finish. I could sit here trying to explain how fresh and delicious the subs are, but I’ll just say… this is a damn good sandwich.
We just recently tried DeNunzio’s and we’ve already been back twice. Not only do they make the BEST balsamic dressing I have EVER had (including in Italy), but their Italian food is authentic and filling. Maybe too filling. Expect to pay for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day. We like the meatball appetizer, but honestly, you get so much food here, as well as bread to snack on, you really don’t even need to add extras to the meal.
This is probably our most-visited restaurant in Monroeville, because they make food like our parents. Only better. And possibly cheaper. Their breakfast deals can’t be beat, and they put the McDonald’s dollar menu to shame with their quality. They are also a great place to get a Pittsburgh salad for lunch or ribs for dinner. We like to bring out-of-town guests here because they have something for everyone.
We’ve been to most of the places on this list MANY times, but have only visited India Garden once. This is mostly because my pregnancy cravings have not included curry and naan. But when we DID make the trip, we were not disappointed. While I think many people don’t realize that it’s here (it is in a semi-abandoned plaza), it always seems to be the venue for beautiful Indian wedding receptions and parties, for good reason.
Get the tofu rad prik. That is all. Or get something else. It’s all good.
I bet you never expected to see mall food on the list. But I love Sinbad so much, I needed to give it a shout out! Not only do I love Mediterranean food, but in a sea of greasy pizza and overcooked Chinese food, it’s nice to have a healthy mall option that is both delicious and nutritious.
I really love their shawarma salad, but be sure to try it out with a variety of dressings and sauces. A bonus for this place? The employees always seem happy to see you, and are happy to explain anything on the menu you are unfamiliar with.
When people talk about Nakama having the best sushi in Pittsburgh, I cringe. Not only are there better options right in the city, but in my opinion, they don’t even come close to Yamato. We spend a lot of time here on Wednesdays, when select rolls are 50% off. I’ve even been able to eat here while pregnant because I LOVE their sweet potato tempura.
You can also choose their hibachi, which is as yummy as it is entertaining.
Travelling with Rover? Stop by Dad’s! Their food is good pub fare and they are one of the most dog-friendly spots in Monroeville. Bring your best friend by in the summer and you can get a great spot on the deck. The waiters are also great with bringing your pup water as they need it! (And sometimes a snack).
Good local beer, good pub food. I’m never disappointed when we go here, but I need to write a reminder on my calendar to check it out on trivia night.
While we never order this for take-out, we love to eat in at Anthony’s with a large prosciutto pizza. It’s closer to a traditional Italian pie than most places around here, and their baked wings are unique and tasty. If you tell them you’ve never been there before, they will bring you a few to try for free. Don’t say no!
Mad Mex is a local chain, spread throughout Pittsburgh and the suburbs. It’s known for its HUGE burritos, particularly its seasonal Gobblerito: A full Thanksgiving dinner in a tortilla. (I’ve tried it twice, finished it once).
While my husband typically goes for a classic burrito, my favorite is the tofu tacos. I typically eat them without the tortillas, bowl style, but don’t assume they are healthy. They boast a ton of calories, and are completely worth it.
My husband loves it here, more than competitor Patron. Personally, I think it is good, that Patron is good, and that most Mexican restaurants are good. But they do have a friendly staff and a dang good queso.
Of course, we haven’t tried out EVERY restaurant in Monroeville. Here are some recommended places we still need to try:
- The Wooden Nickel
- Udipi Cafe
Before you make a stop at Arby’s or Pizza Hut, consider one of these local treasures as you make your way into the city. Maybe you’ll even see me there!
(All photos via. Yelp)