Pittsburgh food in February: What’s opening and what’s closing

This chicken tikka masala was worth the wait.

Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
Rossilynne Culgan

Pittsburgh’s food scene kicked off with a strong start, welcoming a long-awaited taco joint, a healthy casual spot and an Indian BBQ already attracting ardent fans.

In 2017, Pittsburgh added 127 new restaurants.

Here’s what’s on tap for 2018.


Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Choolaah Indian BBQ, Shadyside

So good it’s already attracting a line of fans called “Choolaah-Heads,” this Indian BBQ in Shadyside (on the East Liberty border) takes pride in its ingredients, sourcing and in-house spice blends.

Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Raji Sankar, a Pittsburgher who serves as co-CEO and co-founder with Randhir Sethi, describes the flavors as accessible and craveable — with options to amp up the heat for those who like extra spice. It’s a chain with four other locations, but Pittsburgh “is home,” Sankar said.

Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Just because it’s fast casual doesn’t mean the restaurant skimped on design. Look for big windows, artwork from local artists, a 60-foot-tall tower of books about India and quotes hidden throughout the two-story space. As a Pittsburgh twist, each tandoori oven is named after a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Pro-tip: Grab a seat at the community table near on the first floor where you can watch the hustle and bustle of the kitchen — dinner and a show.

Baby Loves Tacos, Bloomfield

This long-awaited taco joint is officially open for all of your Taco Tuesday (and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday) needs. It even offers lunch delivery for several neighborhoods.

Freshii, Downtown

Open as of Jan. 30, this rapidly growing health food fast-casual chain focuses on its mantra of “Eat. Energize.” The restaurant’s goal is to focus on culinary health trends and to make “superfoods like kale and quinoa convenient and affordable for every citizen.” It’s open from early morning until 5 p.m. on weekdays.

See you soon

Poulet Bleu, Lawrenceville

Richard DeShantz’s latest venture, this bistro is set to open on Butler Street on Feb. 6. A sneak peek on the restaurant’s Instagram shows staff studying wines, so expect a well-crafted wine list. Also spotted in the photo: A stunning backdrop of black-and-white floral wallpaper, so look for attention to design and a new backdrop for selfies.

Penn Cove Eatery and The Warren, Downtown

Led by the team behind Penn Avenue Fish Co., The Penn Cove Eatery will offer soup, sushi, salads and seafood-focused dishes for walk-up ordering. It’ll be attached to The Warren, which Spencer Warren envisions as a casual neighborhood bar (after legal drama over the proposed name, it’s no longer being called “Mr. Rogers, A Neighborhood Bar,” btw). Both are set to open on Feb. 12.

Courtesy of Oxford Market

Oxford Market, Downtown

Operating on the plaza-level of One Oxford Centre, this food hall will serve weekday breakfast and lunch. It’s slated to feature Asian cuisine, Italian fare and a grill for burgers and sandwiches, plus rotating “Guestaurants” with appearances from local chefs. The opening date is targeted for late February.

Carmi Soul Food Restaurant, South Side

After moving from the North Side to the South Side, Carmi Soul Food Restaurant hasn’t announced an official opening date but told the Pittsburgh Courier: Soon. The restaurant has launched a crowdfunding loan to help with unexpected construction costs and other expenses.

Moe’s, Downtown

This Market Square burrito spot is closed temporarily while it expands into the space formerly occupied by Cherrie’s Diner, the Business Times reports. When Moe’s reopens in about three months, it will have doubled in size.

TBSP, Mt. Oliver

The Bakery Society of Pittsburgh, aptly nicknamed TBSP, is the nation’s first bakery incubator, which will open its doors this spring. It’s now seeking interested bakers to participate in the program — apply here.

See you soon-ish


Six Penn Kitchen, Downtown

Citing a plan to focus more on its other restaurant brands, Six Penn Kitchen, owned by the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, will close in mid-February, the Post-Gazette reported. Since its opening in 2005, Six Penn had become a fixture in the Downtown dining scene.

The Elbow Room, Shadyside

A longtime spot in Shadyside, The Elbow Room has closed, but the building likely won’t be vacant for long. The building’s leasing agent is looking for a new food and beverage operation for this 5,300-square feet location, per the Business Times.

Houlihan’s, Station Square

A Station Square landmark for 37 years, Houlihan’s has closed as Station Square begins a year of major changes, the Trib reports. Under a redevelopment plan, eight new restaurants, retail and improvements are expected at the Freight House Shops along Station Square Drive.