top of page

Vegetable Forward Restaurants Rise in Popularity

Speckled Egg
Speckled Egg

There are many culinary trends to note as 2024 begins. Whether it’s the influx of pop-up dining experiences, appreciation for dining outside or other trends that have emerged in a post-pandemic world, Pittsburgh’s dining scene continues to evolve.

Amidst these changes, the vegan and vegetarian scene has taken the biggest hit. Ironically, on Earth Day 2022, Lawrenceville staple Reed & Co. officially closed their doors. Their closing announcement posted only a week prior acted as a vigil for those who had fond memories in the space. The storefront still stands empty today, with a taco-shop “coming soon” sign in the window.

Another closing that disrupted the community was the beloved B52. They had a variety of creative ways of turning vegan ingredients into something much more; you would never miss cheese or meat in their menu offerings. Their falafel wrap was the thing of dreams, and it occasionally pops up until sellout at their sibling bakery in Squirrel Hill, Allegro.

Not all hope is lost; as much that has closed, many have opened and blossomed while doing it. EYV Restaurant, also known as ‘Eat Your Vegetables,’ went from hosting pop-ups around the city at restaurants like Station to fully operating today in Pittsburgh’s Deutschtown Neighborhood. EYV also had its beginnings at the beloved Churchview Farm, which emphasizes farm-to-table dining from local chefs and existing restaurants.

Chef and Owner Mike Godlewski refers to EYV as a vegetable restaurant versus a vegetarian one, with the self-proclaimed goal of being the “steakhouse of veggies.” Their mission is “focusing on making vegetables the center of the plate with meats & seafood playing a supporting role while utilizing the bounty of Western Pennsylvania & East Ohio Farms whenever possible.” Though not a vegan restaurant, most of their menu items can be prepared vegan.

Recently named one of the top new restaurants of 2023 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, EYV’s inventive menu continues to amaze customers with dishes like broccoli “chicharrons” with beer cheese dipping sauce and hummus fritters with harissa yogurt.

1:11 Juice Bar + Eatery is a newcomer to the juice bar and smoothie scene. After a visit to Boston in 2018, owner Bruce ”Eric” Thornton was inspired by an experience at a local smoothie and juice bar and saw a need to bring it back to the 412. With plans halted by the pandemic, the vision took some time to bring to life. However, after a trip to the South Side, Thornton and his wife Emily stumbled upon the perfect location on East Carson Street, where they opened their doors in April of 2022 and are still operating together.

“We believe that juice is for everyone, and we can’t wait to share how we will make that a reality through expansion and growth,” he said.

From their Smart Refrigerator at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where patients and staff can access fresh, rotating juices, to their newest Hazlewood production space, the sky’s the limit for this family-run business. They have also brought their product to the Pirates players and utilized their solar-powered mobile juice van to get the juice to the community, all over the region.

“The Hazlewood production facility will allow us to expand into the community and elevate production levels of the juice and smoothies our customers have come to love,” said Thornton.

Another newer neighbor in the South Side is The Speckled Egg, which also still exists in their original home of The Union Trust Building downtown. While both locations primarily focus on breakfast items, sandwiches, salads and soups, the menu constantly rotates and evolves to reflect what’s in season. The South Side and Downtown locations also house full bars with happy hour specials at each.

Besides rotating menu items such as the hen’s hash and quiche of the day, which swap seasonal veggies in and out, their toasts, soups, and salads reflect seasonal produce. They also have a coconut chia seeding pudding, dubbed the Aloha Puddin’, featuring a rotating fruit selection. Their seasonal toast is named ‘Sweater Weather’ and features house ricotta, cinnamon roasted apples, whey caramel and toasted almonds.

They also source their syrup from a local farm, Paul Family Farms, and share a space with Commonplace Coffee, another local favorite.

Owners Jacqueline and Nathan Schoedel also have a passion for supporting local art, as both locations feature artwork from local artists. Downtown, you can spot artwork from Wavy Wednesday in the restrooms, and the South Side features notes of brunch-themed details by Jason LeViere. Though hours and menus at each location differ, both spaces are open during the weekday and weekend hours to be a destination for weekday lunch or weekend brunch.

Pittsburgh is bursting with vegetable-forward restaurants, both new and old, including beloved Spork, nationally-renowned Apteka and creative 40 North. They’re all worth a visit whether you’re a vegetarian or not. The options for produce-inspired, intentionally crafted and delicious dishes are abundant; you just have to know where to look.

36 views0 comments


bottom of page