Here are a dozen places to visit in Downtown/Strip District, East End, South Side and South Hills for the best tacos in Pittsburgh.
Pierogies have been in the news a lot lately. Well, specifically one foam human-stuffed anthropomorphized pierogi with a penchant for criticizing his employer (or former employer?) on Facebook.
Munch really couldn't take a position on the matter, but Munch would never say anything about the Big Boss, and 'specially not on the Facebook, because who could whine about a gig that includes free food once a week? No, Facebook is for far more serious matters, like finding videos of kittens doing silly things, and stalking Ex of Munch. Either way, all this talk about pierogies really whets Munch's appetite, even if it didn't get Munch particularly excited about the Pirates management.
And speaking of the Intertubes, one positively Munch-able joint, Pierogies Plus, has used it in a pretty productive way. Namely, the pierogi producer (factory?), housed in a not-so-refurbished gas station, has been hawking its Old World fare on this newfangled World Wide Web, vastly expanding its customer base by shipping its heavenly pierogies to lands afar (Alaska, Hawaii and, yes, even Philadelphia, much to Munch's chagrin).
But the dozen years since Munch first eyed the joint, it hasn't changed much. It's gotten a lot of press since then, appearing on Bobby Flay's "FoodNation" television show and in several local and national publications. But the people behind Pierogies Plus haven't let the fame go to their head -- or to their pierogies, which are still, well, read on ...
Pierogies Plus still looks a lot like a gas station and could easily be mistaken for one if there weren't clusters of picnic tables crowding the carport, which doubles as its outdoor dining room. And the counter is still crowded into a space that can barely hold a quarter of the lunch crowd (about four people), or, on one warm-ish, gray afternoon: Munch, Business Writer Friend of Munch, Picky Eater Intern Friend of Munch and Former Intern-cum-House Flipper Friend of Munch.
Munch ordered the Sampler Platter No. 5 ($6.50), which came with pulled pork, cole slaw and four pierogies of Munch's choice. FIcHFFOM opted for Sampler Platter No. 3 (four pierogies and kielbasa, $5.95). BWFOM, looking for a little variety to spice things up from his ho-hum day job, got the Combination Platter No. 7, which came with two cheese and potato pierogies, two kraut and potato pierogies and a side of slaw. And, out of curiosity, he got the lobster cake ($2.25). PEIFOM ordered a half-dozen potato cheese pierogies but somehow ended up with a dozen ($8.25).
The meals came in humble, if not environmentally friendly, styrofoam containers, and the four of us settled down outside on one of the eight picnic tables.
FIcHFFOM, still clad in sooty work duds, eagerly cut into his kielbasa, a Pittsburgh classic he had somehow never sampled in his 20-something years in the city, and then wondered aloud what the difference between bratwurst and kielbasa was. (Did our editorial department teach him anything?) "Delicious!" he exclaimed, kicking up a cloud of dust from his clothes. He called the sausage "savory, with a bit of sweetness, with a texture like the sausage actually came from the meat-bearing parts of the animal, not the usual snouts and hooves kind of thing you're used to with ballpark franks."
Munch was a little concerned that PEIFOM, who was named "Pickiest Eater" at his high school (like, a year ago), would be squeamish about his meal, especially because it was his first pierogi encounter. But he liked them, giving them a solid seven out of 10, with zero being anything green or spicy and 10 being macaroni and cheese from the box.
Munch thought the potato cheese pierogies were the best Munch has ever had, or at least since the last visit to Pierogies Plus. The jalapeno pepper variety, with a touch of smoke and spice, were equally divine. Both came with perfectly chewy exteriors and were plump with fillings. The pulled pork was pretty good as well -- a drier version of the barbecue variety -- but it's clear that this place specializes in pierogies.
BWFOM said the lobster cake was just "OK," a little on the salty side and lacking in lobster flavor. But, noted BWFOM, prices have only increased marginally in a dozen or so years and has barely kept up with inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Point being: You can get a pretty filling lunch with leftovers for less than $10 a head. In 2010, that's practically a steal and certainly a better investment than credit default swaps.