Lawrenceville – 3810 Butler Street – Pittsburgh, PA 15201- 412.586.7224


A sunshiny day in Pittsburgh means getting out of the office and hitting up a good lunch spot.  A friend and I decided to head to Lawrenceville for some fries and dogs.  I wasn’t disappointed… bbbuuuuttttt…I also wasn’t overly impressed.  The place is beautiful—super clean and very well renovated.  The bar is nice and I would guess that this place is packed with happy hour and late night guests.  Great beer selection and good food, not great food, but definitely good. The service was great and the staff seemed knowledgable and happy to be there—always a good sign.

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There are a handful of good veggie selections on the menu.  A veggie sausage and a vegan, tofu dog.  Every dog can come with your choice of toppings or style.

CHICAGO IMPOSTOR: Relish, tomato, banana peppers, chopped onion, yellow mustard, pickle spear, celery salt (At least they know its not a real Chicago dog, hence the name “imposter.”  They get a point for this one.)

PITTSBURGH: Smooshed pierogie, slaw

REYKJAVIK: remoulade, onion, ketchup, mustard, Onion Crunch

BOLLYWOOD:  curried cauliflower pickle, mint raita, cilantro

BANGKOK: Thai peanut sauce, pickled carrot, cilantro

CORN DOG: Under Dog or Veggie, one dipping sauce

(There are lots more styles, check them out here:

I went with the Reykajavík veggie dog because I have this weird obsession with Iceland and Icelandic culture.  While this dog was good, I don’t think it conjured up the tastes of Iceland.  It looked really exciting when it came with lots of stuff on it, but it was lackluster in taste.  It was good, but didn’t knock my socks off like I thought it would.  The raw onions were good, but a bit overpowering on the dog.  The fried onions created a good texture, which was needed because the actual dog was pretty soft.  I sadly couldn’t taste the remoulade, which was the main reason I went with the Reykakavík.

The fries, of pommes frites as they call them, were quite good.   Local, hand-cut taters.  Good seasoning, but could have been a bit crisper.  I went with the spicy horseradish dipping sauce for the fries. That was really the winner of the whole meal.  The ketchup was weird.  My friend and I both agreed that it had some cinnamon or something off-putting in it.  Not a fan, but the horseradish sauce made up for it all.  They also had loads of other dipping sauces to choose from: garlic aioli, Miller’s mustard, horseradish, barbeque, brown gravy, bleu cheese, wasabi mayo, Thai peanut, remoulade, tahini lemon, marinara, sour cream, & sweet chili sour cream. But, be forewarned, each sauce will cost you an extra .75.  My friend had the pierogies and said they were good.  Nothing to write home about (especially in Pittsburgh) but still good.

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Word on the street is the Franktuary has a killer Sunday Brunch.  That might just get me back in the door.

Overall Grade: B-

If you are looking for a good veggie dog and a great microbrew in a more laid back environment, I’d recommend D’s Six Pax in Regent Square.  But, if you are looking for something a bit more upscale in the hipsterfied neighborhood of Lawrenceville, then Franktuary might just be the place for you.

Franktuary on Urbanspoon

Franks be to god.

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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Hot Dogs, Lawrenceville


Kaleidoscope Cafe


If you are looking for a place to get some great small plates, salads, soups and amazing desserts served by friendly staff and made by an approachable chef, then check out Kaleidoscope Cafe in Lawrenceville.

Nestled a few blocks north of Butler St. in a residential neighborhood, Kaleidoscope Cafe brings a unique dining experience to the ‘Burgh.  Casual, American food in a laid-back  environment.  The Cafe was small, but colorful and had a welcoming, eclectic vibe.  I was worried that it might be a bit on the pretentious, hipster side of things, but it didn’t feel that way at all.


For dinner we all started out with either soup or salad.  The soup of the day was meat chili, that a friend said was good, not great, but good.  The salads however were excellent.  Each made with a homemade dressing.  I ordered the Farmhouse salad with the house-made balsamic.  Fresh greens, thin pears, roasted (AMAZING) earthy tasting beets, walnuts and lots of gorgonzola made this salad a must.  All of the salads looked amazing and the cilantro citrus dressing was intriguing. The salads also came with some warmed pita triangles and some sort of incredible nut butter.  Don’t miss out on that nut butter!  I would go back for a big salad paired with a nice wine/beer.  It is BYOB, so plan ahead people!


Up to the entree course everything was quite good, but the entrees all fell a bit short which was a let down.  My Gnocchi Nirvana with soyrizo was probably the best of the bunch.  It was good, but not great.  The gnocchi were clearly homemade, but very, very, very soft and squishy with a light fry on the outside.  I would liken them to small mashed potato nuggets before I would call them gnocchi.  The sauce was fine, but kinda boring.  There wasn’t much soyrizo, but what was there was good.  The portions were the right size, not to big and not to small, but the food was just okay.  Those I was with- the carnivorous type- were equally as, shall I say, bored with their entrees.  A friend who had the basa, which is some type of white fish, didn’t even finish it saying that it was soggy and tasteless.  Yikes.


So, after a lackluster main course, I wanted to see if we could end the night on a happier note.  Another Urbanspoon reviewer said that the pear dessert was on the mark.  So, I ordered one for our table and we were all impressed with the flavors and craftsmanship of the dessert.  A medium poached pear sitting on a red wine reduction accompanied by candied walnuts and a rum mascarpone quenelle.  It was stupid good.  Rich and satisfying.  Not cloyingly sweet like some dessert, but had a great depth of flavor and the perfect way to close a meal.

ImageMy recommendation would be to come for salads and desserts and bring your own wine.  And if you are feeling adventurous and want to try an entree that we didn’t try, they have a special on Tues, Wed and Thursday that when your buy a small plate and two entrees you get a free bottle of wine.  That’s got date night written all over it.

Nice servers, friendly chef (who did come greet us at our table), interesting decor, warm atmosphere, awesome starters and finishers.

Overall Grade: B-

Kaleidoscope Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in American, Lawrenceville


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For a good night out with friends, head to D’s!

D’s SixPax & Dogs

Regent Square

1118 South Braddock Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218 | (412) 241-4666

So… I am clearly on a veggie dog kick, but can you blame me with all the choices in the ‘Burgh?!  I’ve been to D’s a few times to pick up beer or grab a drink with a friend, but this was my first time testing out their cuisine.  I was impressed.  It was tasty.  Lots of veggie-ness on the menu.

We started with the Zucchini planks for an app.  Planks? Must be a PGH thing, as I haven’t seen it before, but many places here offer the massive appetizer.  The zucchini was nice and crispy, but it was a bit over fried to the point of about a quarter of it being in-eatable.  It was a bit greasy, but not terrible.  We only ate one plank a piece, and to be honest, I could have gone for just a half a plank.  It sat pretty heavy in my stomach. But the redeeming factor for the app were the sauces.  The marinara was actually really good- not to sweet or thick.  And the “tiger” sauce was really, really good.  It had the nice kick from the horseradish and the cooling cream.  It was worth patting the grease off another plank to go back from more!

Fried Zucchini Planks
We fry a humongous handful of breaded zucchini medallions to a golden brown. Served with your choice of marinara or tangy tiger sauce… or heck, both.

For our main course, we tried two different veggie dogs.  Clearly, a Chicagoan at heart, I had to go with the Chicago Dog.  Great choice! The dog was packed with amazing veggie ingredients and void of ketchup- just like a dog should come!  The actual dog itself was a touch dry- overcooked by a minute, I think.  But the condiments more than made up for this misstep.  And, the whole thing came properly on a poppy seed bun.  Well done, D’s!

Capone, Jordan, Ditka, and a dash of celery salt! All on a poppyseed bun! Well, more like relish, onions, pickles, tomatoes, sport peppers, and yellow mustard (oh, and that dash of celery salt!), but still.

The other dog was a must try!  The Big Ben (while not one of my favorite sports heros) it was a great dog! Crispy fries, melty gooey cheese sauce, and coleslaw.  Ummmmm, yes please!  I will go back for this one!

This little slice of Heaven has nothing to do with a clock that’s 3,700 miles away and everything to do with our star quarterback! Piled high with fries, creamy cheddar and coleslaw!

So here are my words to the wise next time you made the stroll to D’s in Regent Square.

1. One hotdog is MORE than enough!  I think I ate about two bites of each and one zucchini plank and I was stuffed.  And I am not the “I’ll just have a side salad” kinda gal.  These dogs pack it all in.  They are stuffed!

2. The servers in the main dining area all tag-team the tables.  The women who took our order was NOT friendly, but the dudes were. So… Well, I guess there is really no advice here, just be warned.

3. One of my favorite parts about this place is that you can go into the beer cave, pick out any beer you want, and they will open it for you right there.  If you want a beer that isn’t cold yet, they have a convenient super cooler that can get your beer frosty very quickly.  You can also get 6 &12 packs to go.  They have a great selection of local and micro-brews on tap.  You can’t go wrong with the beer here.

Overall Grade for D’s SixPax & Dogs : A-

D's Six Pax & Dogz on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Hot Dogs, Regent Square


Joe’s Dogs: Best in the Burgh

Joe’s Dog House

Joe’s is hand’s down my favorite lunch spot in Oakland.  For $5.25, my favorite (and what I get EVERYtime) is the “Veggie Special” with chips and a drink. I am a veggie dog connoisseur, and this is one of my all-time favorites.  Joe’s veggie special consists of a grilled Yves Jumbo Veggie Soydog on a toasted wheat bun topped with sliced fresh red tomatoes, spicy(!) giardiniera, yellow mustard and celery salt.  Joe (and Chris- the other owner) slice the dog length-wise and grill it to perfection.  Then it’s topped with all that yumminess?!

Yes, please!

Joe and Chris also have a tomato & basil tofu Italian sausage and a killer MorningStar Farms chipotle black bean burger. A food cart that caters to vegetarians has my heart!  But don’t worry carnivores! My meat eatting coworkers are also consistenly pleased with their meat dogs, so I say that you can’t go wrong with this place.  And the owners are super nice folks- win, win!

Joe’s also has a rewards system to keep me coming back.  Wait… who am I kidding, it’s that dog that gets me coming back each time! But, this is a lovely perk!  Buy 10 dogs, get one free!

Joe’s Dog House Grade- Easy A!

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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Food Trucks, Hot Dogs, Oakland


Casa Rasta v. Smoke

Casa Rasta

2102 Broadway Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Some friends and I took advantage of the amazing weather on Sunday and ventured to the South Hills for the highly recommended, Casa Rasta experience.  It is a cute little place with a nice outdoor patio.  Prefect for a lazy Sunday afternoon of sunshine, people watching and chowing down on some good grub.  The inside has just a few seats, so be warned if you are going on a cold or rainy day, it might be best to get yours to-go!

There are two veggie tacos on the menu.  I clearly had to try both!  They were both good.  Not earth-shatteringly good, but good.  Both tacos came with two fresh corn tortillas. Yum!  The first one I tried, which was my favorite of the two, was the Vegetarian Poblano Chilis & Potatoes (Rajas) and the other was a Vegetarian Mexican Sausage (Soyrizo).  The pepper one was cooked well and didn’t have any of the bitter/metallic taste that happens sometimes to cooked peppers.  The peppers were cut into ribbons which made for a fun presentation.  Topped with a bit of their homemade salsa, it was a good taco.  The Soyrizo taco was fine.  I ate the whole thing and enjoyed it, but it tasted like something I could whip up a home in no time.  The “sausage” tasted just like Boca or Quorn crumbles cooked in some taco seasoning.  I liked it, but it was nothing special.  Am I glad they have it on the menu though?  Heck yes!  I will always credit a place when they have veggie protein on the menu!  Well done, Casa Rasta!

The only thing on the menu that I didn’t much enjoy were the black beans.  They come in a Styrofoam bowl, which for a cute little hippy, veggie/earth friendly place, I was shocked that they used Styrofoam.  But neither here nor there, the beans were just not great.  No seasoning and a minute or two undercooked.  I put them on both tacos to add a little somethin’ somethin’, but on their own, they were not good.

I did, however, very much enjoy my Mango Jarritos.  Delish.

If you have read my review of Smoke and this one, I bet you can guess my winner.  For the food, from this one veggie’s perspective, there is a clear winner- Smoke.  As far as the whole dining experience, I would give it to Casa Rasta based on the patio and option for outdoor dining. I would go back to Casa Rasta with friends for a cheap, casual meal.  I would go back to Smoke time and time again for flavorful, fresh food.

Overall Grade for Casa Rasta: B-

Casa Rasta on Urbanspoon


Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Mexican, South Hills


A+ for taste. That’s right, A+!

Udipi Cafe

4141 Old William Penn Hwy
Monroeville, PA 15146

Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine

This place is in the middle of nowhere, looks a little sketchy on the outside, and a little sketchy on the inside, but OMG is the food amazing.  I though Zaiaka’s was good (and I still think it is well above par) but this place-AMAZING!

We went on a Sunday night and there was a line out the door.  Now, mind you, the place is pretty small so it doesn’t take more than 50 people to make this place burst at the seams. The inside was pretty dull and boring and the service was nothing to write home about, but again, the food was worth writing to just about anybody about.  And all vegetarian?  I’m a believer!

The menu is large and full of amazingly tasty looking veggie delights.  A friend recommended the Dosa, so we went with that and quite a bit more.

First, we went with the Royal Appetizer Sampler.  Fancy, I know. It was huge and delightful!

And here is my only warning to you.  The peppers are “praying to sweet baby Jesus make the burning stop” hot.  I mean like hot, hot.  Now, I love me some hot peppers and can usually hang with the big boys, but I may have lost a taste bud or two after this one.  The curious thing about this little pepper, is that after I was done with this one, I ate the other one on the plate.  Why, you ask?!  I think I was drunk with the heat from pepper #1.  But, pepper #2 was not spicy at all.  Pepper #1 could have been hotter because I was dipping it in the green sauce that I mistook for a cilantro sauce which was, in reality, a hot peppery sauce.  Once can never be sure, but sample with caution.

For our two main course dishes we went with an old favorite, Malai Kofta, and a new favorite, Masala Dosa.

Malai Kofta- Beautifully floral curry with hearty veggie balls.  Perfectly cooked rice and a sweet and tangy veggie yogurt on the side.  Was just as good reheated for lunch the next day!

Masala Dosa- Perfectly soft crepe with crispy edges good for scooping the chunky potatoes and onions.  The dosa was served with sambar and chutney (two spot on accompaniments.)

I have zero, yes zero, criticisms about either dish.  I would go back for both in a heartbeat, but I am so excited to try everything on this menu.  It is authentic, fresh and flavorful. What more could you ask?  Oh, and I forgot to mention that it is stupid cheap.  You can thank me for the recommendation after your dinner.

Overall grade for Udipi Cafe: A (but A+ for taste!)

Udipi Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Indian, Monroeville


Honest American Food.

The Union Grill in Oakland does American comfort food with style.  The place is swamped on Friday afternoon lunch.  There were only two of us and we had to wait about 20 minutes, but the lunch was worth it (and it got me out of the office for a few hours!)

Their food is good, but be warned, there is not a ton of veggie-ness on the menu.  They have one veggie sandwich that has hummus, baked eggplant and a bunch of veggies.  I wasn’t in the mood for that today.  I just wanted some good, old-fashion comfort food- french fries and all.  So, I went for this:

Chicken Ciabatta Melt

“Our signature sandwich features succulent chargrilled chicken breast in a hot, grilled ciabatta roll with applewood-smoked bacon, spicy banana peppers, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and your choice of gourmet cheeses.”

So, clearly I got this sans the chicken and bacon.  I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it was great!  It was warm, full of veggies and cheese.  They had three cheeses of the day: a hot pepper cheese, smoked mozzarella, and one other I can’t remember.  I went with the hot pepper cheese.  Paired with the sweet, caramelized onions and peppers, it was a great match. The roll was good- warm and toasty. And those waffle fries are as good as they look.  The portion was just right- not a tiny little thing but not so much that I felt sick after.  Clearly not the healthiest lunch, but just what the doctor had ordered for a Friday afternoon!

The sandwich with fries is priced on the menu at $10.99, but to my surprise, they only charged me $7.99.  Usually when I alter something to make it meat-free, I still have to pay the same price.  They made my day by taking $3 off.  Well played, Union Grill!

This place is place is a must for those who want some good, casual American eats and a cheap (but not crappy) bottle of wine. They have a decent beer list too.  I’m a fan.

Overall Grade for Union Grill: B+

Union Grill on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in American, Oakland


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