Tamari takes its name from the Argentinean Huarpe people’s word meaning “to do everything with passion,” and the staff heeds it as a call to action. Executive Chef Roger Li expresses this joie de vivre through a bold menu of Latin, Asian, and European cuisine, uniting cultures through food like a model of the 1933 World's Fair made from fondant. Lobster-tempura maki tempts mouths alongside shrimp tacos garnished with yuzu-margarita foam and scottish salmon paired with chimichurri and ginger polenta. While dining, guests take part in a rich, interactive experience, sipping exotic açai mimosas and watching chefs prepare shareable tapas or custom-made menus in an open-pit kitchen. Altogether, the combination of unexpected flavor from the kitchen and unhindered elegance from the dining room has earned Tamari a great deal of respect. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for instance, named it on its Best Dining: Top Dishes list, and CBS Pittsburgh ranked it at the top of its list of Best Outdoor Dining options.
Concocted by a professional chef with 20 years of experience, Dasonii Korean Bistro's menu combines authentic and innovative Korean cuisine. Mandu dumplings ($6), declared "perhaps the best in Pittsburgh" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, tumble down tongues in steamed and fried forms, and handmade wheat noodles ($12) simmer alongside vegetables in beef broth. Shunned maple syrup leers from afar at the kimchi pancake ($14), a savory disc filled with marinated, thinly sliced rib eye that luxuriates in a clay pot. Sushi-bar selections include two decadent pieces of yellowtail belly nigiri ($6) and crispy morsels of vegetable tempura roll ($4.25). Patrons traverse the wooden floors of Dasonii Korean Bistro's modern interior before nestling into high-backed booths or close-knit tables to feast on fare from the kitchen, which just removed the word “no” from its vocabulary.
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.
When the family behind Super-Stuff Super-Licious restaurant fired up their three sidewalk grills in 1985, they began a local BBQ legacy that was strong enough to attract people from forty miles out. Unfortunately, the booming success couldn’t stop an encroaching schism that would soon split up the relatives and choke the growing business. It took nearly 20 years of slow-cooked reconciliation and, according to the restaurant’s website, a spiritual awakening to bring the family and the business back together in 2005. Today, Robbie's Super-Stuff Super-Licious BBQ Restaurant continues the tradition they started more than 35 years ago.
The barbecue mavens stock their kitchen with fresh, local ingredients and meats. They season each of their ribs, chickens, and steaks—sousing some slabs with more than a dozen herbs and spices—before sizzling them atop an open-pit grill. They then slather these flavorful cuts in one of three sauces: hot-, mild-, or mustard-barbecue sauce. They also prepare homestyle sides, such as collard greens and signature cornbread, to accessorize meat-centric entrees or cocktail dresses.
When guests walk into the bright blue confines of Square Café, they find owner Sherree Goldstein and her friendly crew serving up smiles and steaming cups of custom-blended Kiva Han coffee. Preparing eclectic breakfast and lunch dishes, chefs crack shells for three-egg omelets, green eggs and ham with homemade pesto, and form their own housemade veggie burgers. Attentive servers endlessly refill freshly brewed ice tea and help health-savvy diners find the best menu options. Inside, colorful local artwork fuels discussions about which colors deserve to be primary, and on the sidewalk patio, diners can scan the street for signs of Square Café's vegetable-oil-powered Mercedes.
Gayot proclaimed Square Café a "vibrant eatery," describing the "generously portioned, cooked-to-order breakfast and lunch items on huge square plates." In addition to the well-crafted eats, the staff's energy and enthusiasm keep the café's sizeable crowd of regulars coming back—the manager, Kevin, even sports a Square Café tattoo as evidence.
Owner and chef Omar Mediouni imbues La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar's menu of traditional Spanish and Moroccan small plates and entrees with local ingredients and an appetite for culinary fusion that, according to Pittsburgh City Paper, "combines sophistication and comfort, authenticity and simplicity." Flagpole-addicted tongues warm up with a choice of 16 hot tapas, including the chorizo catalan's spicy sautéed sausage and spinach in a red-wine reduction ($10), and tomatoes, sweet pepper, and eggplant form the base of a duo of Moroccan dips ($8 each). Larger entrees ($16–$28) sneak garbanzo beans, chicken, lamb, and eggplant into piles of couscous or saffron paella rice like parents tucking Easter eggs into an egg carton.
Nestled within a brick house along a neighborhood street in Shadyside, La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar greets springtime by opening its patio to warm breezes and showers of cupid arrows. Inside, a hanging Spanish guitar, lanterns lit by candles, and the wide grin of a bright red hearth contribute to a cozy, eclectic spirit.