Shouf’s Cafe recently earned a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Reader’s Choice award for the Best Ethnic Restaurant of 2012. That’s thanks to the mouthwatering, accessible Lebanese cuisine that Tony Moses and his team of chefs have created here since 2006. They cook up lamb kebabs, moussaka, and slow-cooked pork shank, as well as entrees with influences from across the Mediterranean, such as filet mignon and spinach pie. The cross-cultural menu is augmented by hearty breakfast selections such as buttermilk pancakes and omelets. You can pair up your Mediterranean feast with a glass of wine or a coffee drink and cap off the meal with housemade baklava, the Death by Chocolate cake, or a eulogy for a misplaced napkin.
Sugar Cafe owner Kelly James, a fixture in Pittsburgh's gourmet-pastry scene, opened the doors in February 2011 to reveal a menu of delectable sweets and savories crafted in-house by a team of dedicated chefs. Visitors can dine on specialties such as a black forest ham sandwich with sliced granny smith apples, gouda, and spicy mustard on a french baguette, or a sandwich with eggplant and tomato roasted by the heat of food-grade fireworks and topped with parmesan cheese and toasted garlic mayonnaise on ciabatta bread. An elevated bakery exhibits the mouthwatering work of prodigious bakers and sous chefs, who converge each morning to whip up desserts such as Grand Marnier cheesecake, vanilla-chai cupcakes, and lemon pound cakes. Complimentary WiFi keeps patrons comfortably connected, and a BYOB policy allows guests to bring along a bottle of wine to accompany meals or christen a ship on the way home.
When guests walk into the bright blue confines of Square Caf?, 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 Caf?'s vegetable-oil-powered Mercedes.
Gayot proclaimed Square Caf? 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 caf?'s sizeable crowd of regulars coming back?the manager, Kevin, even sports a Square Caf? tattoo as evidence.
The proudly independent family crew that runs The Pittsburgh Bagel Factory brings the same commitment to tasty food and early-rising work ethics that made their bagels a local staple to their new Craig St. location. After baking their bagels, which include everything from savory onion to multigrain wildberry, the kitchen staff puts them to work, schmearing them with cream cheese concoctions or sandwiching them with deli meats including oven-roasted turkey and kosher salami. Custom blends of eggs, morning meats, and cheese gussy up handheld comestibles, while burgers flip from sizzling grills to challah buns dressed with toppings ranging from grilled onions and mushrooms to fried eggs and peach barbecue sauce. Staff also pull shots of espresso to add to steaming mugs that vanquish sleepiness from faces.
In her bio, Margaret Harris jokes that she "may have had her first 'cup of tea' when she was only one day old." That's because Harris was raised in Poland, where tea, she writes, "is the primary household beverage." Today, she applies her training at the Warsaw Medical College to discuss the health benefits of her brews with customers at her tea-and-coffee shop, Margaret's Fine Imports. In addition to stocking more than 200 types of loose-leaf tea, from Chinese green tea to British teas such as Taylor's Yorkshire Gold tea and PG Tips, Harris completes proper tea times with German and Polish sweets, Asian-style tea sets, and napkins autographed by the Mad Hatter.
The smoothie engineers at Jamba Juice soak torrid tongues with delicious nutrient-rich concoctions from an extensive menu void of artificial preservatives or trans fats. Each large smoothie (a $7.06 value after tax) packs a vitamin wallop that helps people to lead healthy lives and gives them enough energy for all of life’s challenges, from getting through the workday to jumping safely from a cellular tower into a nearby kiddie pool. Take tongues for a whirl with the Strawberry Surf Rider, a smoothie made with strawberries, peaches, Jamba lemonade, and lime sherbet, or pump your palate with a Peach Pleasure smoothie concocted from peach, banana, and orange flavors. Fruit-and-veggie blends, such as the Apple 'n Greens or the Orange Carrot Karma, fuse the salubrious benefits of both types of soil-sprouters in a frozen treat that's more enjoyable than devouring a still-life painting.