To Vegans, With Love: Natalie’s Favorite Vegan Eateries in Pittsburgh
by Natalie Bencivenga
September 15, 2021
I am a total foodie. Long before I became a vegan, I have always enjoyed eating, making food, enjoying food with friends, and trying new and exciting cuisine. When I became plant-based about eleven years ago, I will admit that it was hard. I had to learn how to cook all over again. There weren’t any fancy plant-based cheeses or butters or meat substitutes at the grocery store. Seitan was as sophisticated as it got in my kitchen and so I learned to live with the never ending comments like, “Where do you get your protein?” “What do you eat?” “Do you only eat salads?” … you get the idea. But as the years rolled on, I became a much better cook, I experimented with different fruits, veggies, grains, legumes and greens. I learned about the medicinal properties of plants and played with making my own cheeses from cashews, sunflower seeds and tofu.
And when the restaurant scene in Pittsburgh started to catch up, let’s just say I was over the moon. Sure I love to cook, but some nights it is just delightful to have a break and enjoy dining with friends and family. I recognized that privilege and when Covid hit us and the restaurant industry, the vegan restaurants in this city pivoted, reinvented and powered on.
To show my gratitude, here are a few of my favorite spots (and what you should try when you get there).
Located on Carson St. in the Southside, Viridis is my favorite breakfast spot with my favorite breakfast sandwich. Housemade buttery, flaky biscuits, smoked “bakon” and a tofu egg with a housemade sausage patty is almost too big to eat. But trust me, I do. Couple that with their ridiculously delightful donuts, cinnamon rolls and gourmet coffee bar, there’s no place I’d rather be on any morning. They’ve added more goodies like the scrumptious Caesar salad with soy curls while the chive and cheddar scone always hits the spot!
Healthy, satisfying and along the beautiful river in Aspinwall, Farmer X Baker feels special because it is special. Not only do they have incredible vegan options for their brunch each weekend, but now Thursday and Friday nights (from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) are exclusively vegan. Choose between burgers, seasonal salads, burritos and more! You may come for the zucchini fritters, but you’ll stay for the homemade oat milk soft serve ice cream. My personal favorite? I can’t get enough of the rootbeer float and their pizza with pesto. My mouth is watering just thinking of it! This is a great place to bring your friends and family or just treat yourself. Order dinner, bring a book and sit in the hammock as the boats float by. Not a bad way to spend the day.
Be still my heart. What Pittsburgh truly needed was a vegan bakery, but one that also served sandwiches and soups to go. It was like a magic wand was waved and poof! Allegro was born. Re-born actually. In 2020, they reinvented themselves as a fully plant-based bakery, Allegro keeps us coming back for more with its delightful croissants, delicious breads and my favorite mushroom melt. (Just bring lots of napkins!). The bakery also has the most incredible chocolate chip cookies and they are always cooking up something special. Try their focaccia slices with olives, peppers, artichokes and more if you can get there in time.