If you’re reading this right now, there’s a good chance that you’re a Pittsburgh college student who’s simply exhausted the list of go-to restaurants (a.k.a. Panera, Chipotle, Hello Bistro, and Primanti’s) and you’re looking for the next best thing. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of lunch and dinner items that are $15 and under from THE BEST restaurants (fine dining and cheap eats places) in Pittsburgh. So, the next time you want to impress your friends by introducing them to a restaurant that’s going to knock their socks off AND not break the bank, you’ll know where to take them.

Pro Tip: If you’re interested in going to a ~fancy~ restaurant but aren’t able to fork over $40 for a small piece of salmon and one green bean, go to said restaurant for lunch rather than dinner. The lunch menu is likely a lot cheaper, and sometimes even has better (and bigger) options than the dinner menu.

Without further ado, here is the list:

tako (Dinner) Downtown

· carnitas tacos $13

· chicken tacos $13

· pastor (pork shoulder) tacos $13

· spring vegetables $14

Side Note: it can be extremely difficult to score a reservation at tako, so make sure to plan your trip well in advance!

Casbah (Lunch) Shadyside

· fettucine $14

· orecchiette $15

· sweet corn risotto $14

· grilled chicken salad $15

· wild mushroom and goat cheese omelet $12

· BLT club sandwich $14

· seared rare tuna $14

· roasted turkey sandwich $14

· steak sandwich $14

· pastrami sandwich $13

· Casbah burger $15

Eleven Downtown


· roasted chicken sandwich $14

· crab cake sandwich $14

· blackened swordfish sandwich $15

 Dinner appetizers

· potato gnocchi $14

· blue bay mussels $13

· tuna tartare $15

Spoon East Liberty

· spoon burger $15

Local Bar and Kitchen SouthSide

· all of their sandwiches, wraps, and burgers are under $15 and taste amazing

When going to a fancy restaurant, another idea is to order several appetizers and split them among your friends, or order a bigger, more expensive entrée and split it so that it only ends up being $10-$15 per person (The Capital Grille would probably be a good place for something like this). Be careful, though, because the more expensive restaurants tend to have very small entrees that are barely enough for one person, so trying to split something would leave you both hungrier than if you had just run a marathon. The best way to avoid this problem is to do your research before you go: Google the restaurant and look at pictures of their food, go to the restaurant's website, or even go to Yelp and read what others have to say. Reading reviews and looking at pictures of the food should help you determine whether or not you think the restaurant will truly satisfy you. 

Don’t let a notoriously expensive restaurant scare you away! If you’re really eager to try it, then go with a couple of your friends and split something or even a few things. Hopefully, this list has provided you with some new places and ideas to wow your friends with.