My hometown, the city that I love, combined with one of the most interesting places in the world, the City of Lights, AND I'M TALKING ABOUT FOOD HERE, PEOPLE. Pittsburgh has an up-and-coming food scene, and some of the best treats in town have a sweet Parisian flair.
Check out my top choices for finding a little bit of Paris in Pittsburgh:
Paris 66 - In the heart of the East End, Paris 66 offers "Everyday French Cuisine" that has won countless awards and high praises from even the toughest critics. The cozy atmosphere is complete with accents that really do make you feel like you're in Paris. My favorite was a faux metro sign affixed to the wall above our table. It transported me back to memories of looking at those real metro signs when I was in Paris a few years ago, perplexed at their complexity and reminiscent of the sights and sounds of Paris.
When my fiancé and I recently dined at Paris 66, we selected the Bouchées a la Reine (pictured right) as an hors d'oeuvre, which was gone in a matter of seconds. The chicken was tender and there was just the right amount of bechamel sauce to cover the pastry and soak into the chicken. For dinner I chose the La Bordelaise crepe (pictured left), which I didn't love but didn't hate. If you've never tried bordelaise sauce, this would be your chance! My fiancé selected the Crevettes Provençales - you could say I had a few bites, too. In the back of the restaurant, there is a patio area with whimsical lights hanging casually above guests as they enjoy dinner and/or dessert. Paris 66 provides the perfect atmosphere and menu to make you feel right at home - especially if your home is Paris, France.
Gaby et Jules - The second brainchild of Fred and Lori Rongier to Paris 66 is Gaby et Jules, a patisserie nestled on the bustling Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. At Gaby et Jules, chef David Piquard creates the most delicious macarons in every flavor you could imagine. While I completed an internship in Squirrel Hill a few years ago I slowly watched Gaby et Jules develop. Now the shiny red exterior can be seen from either end of the street, and the patisserie has expanded to a downtown Pittsburgh location in Market Square. And, Gaby et Jules is more than just my favorite destination for my macaron fix - a variety of breads, pastries, and other treats are also available.
Gaby et Jules is certainly worth a stop if you're passing through Squirrel Hill or downtown, especially if you're just visiting. A box of macarons could also be the perfect gift for a holiday, birthday, or housewarming gift. A large box is $26 and a small box is $13. Individual macarons typically cost $3 each. I can tell you that they are worth every penny!
Cafe Moulin - Above all, I would have to say that my favorite piece of Paris in Pittsburgh is Cafe Moulin, located in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood. Cafe Moulin is more of a best-kept secret among the larger Pittsburgh crowd, but those who know it can't get enough of it. Situated off of the main Walnut Street, a small set of stairs will lead you down to the cafe, which is small but cozy and the staff are always extremely friendly and accommodating.
Cafe Moulin's specialty is crepes - both savory and sweet. My favorite savory crepe is the Bristol with the avocado on the side, and my favorite sweet crepe is a toss up. Anything with fruit and nutella is a win-win in my book. You know what I'm saying. Another one of my favorite things about Cafe Moulin is the chai tea latte. I'm a huge fan of chai tea, and I like to try a cup at every cafe that I visit. The chai at Cafe Moulin tastes authentic, unique, and full, not diluted or generic. They offer a variety of other beverages as well, including sparkling sodas and Turkish tea.
Though nothing will compare to the one and only capital of France, Pittsburgh packs a punch when it comes to food with Parisian influences. There is a substantial French community in Pittsburgh as well. The Pittsburgh Francophone Centre provides an opportunity for French citizens living in the city of bridges to connect and celebrate their nationality. Writer Brian O'Neill has referred to Pittsburgh as "The Paris of Appalachia." No matter the connection, I frequently enjoy getting a little taste of Paris while in Pittsburgh. If you're a resident of the area or just passing through, I encourage you to do the same.