Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
What can turn an amazing meal into the best meal of your life, or take just an average meal and make it fantastic? Dining outside! Al fresco dining is very popular in the Burgh, even though we only get about 4 months out of the year to enjoy it. Now the trick is which restaurants offer al fresco dining with amazing food and which places are just covering up for average food with an amazing outdoor dining room? The same thing applies to pretty much every restaurant on Mt. Washington, you take away that million-dollar view and people will start to realize average food being served that is really overpriced. There isn’t really any way to be sure whether the food can stand up to the setting of the meal, other than giving it a chance.
For years now, Pusadee’s Garden in Lawrenceville has been voted as the Best Al Fresco dining by Pittsburgh Magazine. The fact that they serve Thai food is a huge plus. It is also BYOB, which sealed the deal for us!
Ironically enough, the night we decide to eat at Pusadee’s Garden is on a night during heavy rain and cold temperatures! That’s our luck. The plus is, we get to see if the food can hold it’s own.
We of course bring our favorite bottle of vino, tuck in and peruse the menu. The menu is larger than the indoor dining room; a dozen or so apps, plenty of noodle dishes, curries, soups, salads and more. Here, like other Thai places, you get to pick the spice level of your main courses (1-10). Thai spice isn’t like normal spice, just because you like Frank’s Red Hot doesn’t mean you can order a 10 here. Do not be a tough guy! I like spice as much as the next guy and I went with a 4, and it is plenty hot! A couple seated next to us ordered 6’s and looked like they were about to pass out after 2 bites.
But first, the apps, we ordered the crispy spring rolls, crispy crab rolls, and pork dumplings. We were a tad torn; while the apps were delicious it was hard to tell if they were homemade or just frozen apps they fry up as people order them. That being said we still devoured them and loved the sauces served along side of them.
For main courses D went with the Pad Thai spice level 2, I finally settled on the Spicy Duck spice level 4. We tore through the main courses! Even D’s dish had some heat at a level 2 but was delicious, some food snobs turn up their nose at Pad Thai (claiming it’s too “mainstream”); we however always enjoy ordering it.
My dish was great although not a huge fan of the super thin rice noodles; they tend to just clump together even if cooked properly. The duck was amazing, the black soy sauce was rich, the veggies and bean sprouts added great crunch, and the level 4 packed plenty of enough heat (not sure if I could’ve handled a level 5).
The food here is served super fast and super hot. The service was very friendly, and they know to keep filling up the water glasses to battle all the spice. We can’t wait to go back and enjoy our meal in their beautiful garden dining room. Pusadee’s Garden has the food to stand up against the beautiful outdoor dining space! So don’t be afraid to eat here if you are unable to eat outside. Also be sure to make a reservation, this place fills up fast.
5321 Butler St
Pgh, PA 15201
Reservations strongly recommended
Saturday & Sunday: 12:00-10:00