If there's a "test of time" for restaurants, then three of my favorite places in Pittsburgh have passed: Six Penn Kitchen., Bossa Nova and Seviche. Only a few blocks apart, these Cultural District juggernauts offer exactly what I am looking for when I want the triple threat of good food, good drinks, and good atmosphere.
Before the show...
Six Penn Kitchen
Honestly, if you haven't been here yet, you've been missing out on a great experience. Before using locally grown foods was trendy in Pittsburgh, Six Penn was using them. Before creating dishes that take American comfort food to the next level, Six Penn was creating them. From the savory soups that can start your meal to the handmade peppermint patties that can finish it, the menu has something for locavores, herbivores, carnivores, and/or omnivores. I've been there at least two dozen times over the years and have watched the menu evolve with the seasons; and that's the fun, right? There's always something new to try. Nevertheless, I must mention some of my favorite staple entrees: Cracklin' Pork Shank, Buffalo Chicken "Mac N' Cheese," and Jamison Farm Lamb Bolognese. As for desserts, they are all wonderful (because, yes, I have tried them all). Bonus features: Six Penn offers a rooftop bar, private rooms for entertaining, a cozy fireplace sitting area with comfy couches; and huge windows that allow for front row people-watching (which NEVER gets old in Pittsburgh).
(3.5 stars, 3.5/4)
After the show it's the after-party...
From the time I turned 22 (I actually went there on my 22nd birthday), I have gone to Bossa Nova for a guaranteed great night ahhht. Before tapas were found on EVERY restaurant menu, Bossa Nova was serving up the small plates with flair. Here I go again talking about tapas; but seriously? You know me; and I rarely want to resign myself to one entree (especially in the late evening). Do you want selections that range from sushi to chorizo to cheeses and olives? Fine! Bossa Nova will have something(s) to satisfy your appetite. In addition to an array of food options, Bossa has seating for your every whim: bar, cocktail, dining, and lounge. Bonus features: If you are single, and trying to meet people, there's always an interesting crowd (in a good way, of course): usually a mix of young professionals often peppered with celebrities. I even met the Soup Nazi there a few years ago. One more thing... it would be remiss if I didn't mention our (HGB and SAA's) favorite bartender, Anne. She's sublime.. we promise.
(3.5 stars, 3.5/4)
With a 10.p.m.-12 a.m. happy hour, this is the perfect place for late evening socializing (or even a first date!). According to their website, "There are several variations of modern Seviche (also spelled Ceviche or Cebiche) depending on which Latin American country you visit. But they are all commonly prepared with lime which acts as a preserving agent and other key ingredients such as chili and cilantro.... we feature seven different preparations each with its own unique ingredients. Ultimately, the most important facet of Seviche preparation is the freshness of the seafood." I like the Fire and Ice and the Ginger Tataki preparations best, especially for the scallops. The bartenders always give delicious recommendations when it comes to this aspect of the menu. Admittedly, I am a "when in Rome" kind of gal; and when I am at Seviche, I cannot stray from eating their specialty tapas ($5 during happy hour) and drinking their fresh mojitos ($5 during happy hour as well... the Seviche Mojito Classico and Banana are my favorites). Bonus feature: Although I do not salsa dance, I have been to Seviche on Mondays for their Salsa Night. The music and crowd create a vibe that redefines "lively" (ah, more people-watching!).
(4 stars, 4/4)