Modern Cafe is an ironic name for an establishment that's been around for more than 80 years, especially since it serves up a menu of such timeless fare. The sandwich-centric selection features classics such as reubens, an award-winning gyro, and tuna melts alongside Mediterranean staples including gyro salads and pita chips with hummus and tzatziki. The noteworthy Spartan sandwich packs in so much steak, gyro meat, veggies, cheeses, and tzatziki sauce that it's wrapped like a gyro rather than folded like a conventional sandwich or jammed inside an after-dinner mint.
Modern Cafe also offers dozens of whiskeys and vodkas and more than 140 types of beer, with varieties from Penn Brewery, Great Lakes, and Bell's frequently among the 12 tap selections. Besides the cafe's allure as a hangout with TVs, a dart machine, and an internet jukebox, it's also a beacon for movie buffs looking to visit one of the filming locations for Wonder Boys.
Wednesday-Night Wine Flights merge science and education, two ideas that have been divided since a series of high-school chemistry teachers was arrested for dancing on laboratory tables in 1987. Sample three wines that have been hand-selected to complement three Cassis appetizers. Small-plate possibilities from the menu of French-influenced American fare include dumplings, baked brie on toasted baguette slices, and black-olive tapenade with sliced radish dippers. The owner and head chef selects wine and food pairings a week prior to each flight, so if you'd like to know what comestibles are coming, check the Cassis Facebook page on Tuesday evening, or simply call ahead.
Carmi Family Restaurant has walls, tables, and its very own kitchen?at first glance, these factors make it a run-of-the-mill establishment. But this brick-and-mortar restaurant arose out of overwhelming demand and governmental petitions for chef Michael King's southern soul food, which he originally prepared through his catering operation, Catering Kings. As buzz about on-the-go soul food swept the area, King and his wife "became victims of their success" and were forced to open their own storefront, according to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pittsburgh City Paper's reviewers slaked their appetites on "terrific" waffles and chicken with a "thick, heavily seasoned crust that provided plenty of crunch." The author of Baking, domesticity, and all things mini polished off "every last crumb" of the gravy-drenched meatloaf and buttered up the staff who were "friendly and charming right from the start."
When organizers were planning last year's inaugural Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, they expected about 1,000 people to show up. They ended up with a crowd of more than 7,000. And it's no wonder, considering how highly the European dumpling ranks among the city's beloved foods. As Stephan Bontrager, one of the organizers of the fest, told the Post-Gazette in 2013, pierogis are "one of those Pittsburgh pride things."
Locals can once again show their love for the chewy concoctions at this year's fest, where there will be at least 15 vendors serving both traditional and contemporary versions. Perennial favorite Gosia's will be using a pierogi recipe handed down through generations of their Polish family, while Square Cafe will be giving attendees another chance to taste their coffee-spiked dumplings. There'll be plenty to do besides eat, of course. Other attractions include a beer tent (sponsored by Yuengling) and a pop-up market with handcrafted gifts such as pierogi earrings and toasty pierogi slippers.
Pittsburgh Magazine fills subscribers' mailboxes with 13 annual issues detailing the city's food, business, sports, and culture. In featured issues, writers highlight recent local human-interest stories, guides to weekend getaways, and spotlights on eclectic spots, famous cemeteries, or the place where Fred Rogers became Mr. Rogers after donning a radioactive sweater. Each year, the Best of the 'Burgh poll lets readers anoint their favorite city eateries, entertainment, and other local merchants.
Museums typically showcase art in carefully curated rooms. At Mattress Factory, however, the room itself is the art. Since 1977, the museum's two buildings have housed a permanent collection of contemporary installation art—room-sized works that engulf the entire space. In Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Dots Mirrored Room, mirrored ceilings and walls infinitely reflect a trio of fluorescent dots painted on a white formica floor. In Greer Lankton's It's all about ME, Not You, astroturf lines a floor covered in artful arrangements of grotesque dolls that form shrines to artists such as Patti Smith and Candy Darling.
To further immerse guests, Mattress Factory's exhibitions are paired with educational programs that range from lectures to hands-on art projects. Along with stimulating the public, the museum stimulates the growth of artists through its residency program, which invites participants to create installations while living near the museum, a much more practical alternative to hiding a secret cot in the coatroom.