Foodie on the Half Shell: Where I’m eating in January

After the holidays, most of us have new goals and ideas about what this New Year will look like for us. Every year I try to pick up a new healthy habit to improve my exercise and eating habits. This year I am keeping a food journal to become more aware of what and how often I am consuming.

That being said, I still need to uphold my reputation as a Pittsburgh food connoisseur so I still need to get out and about and try new restaurants, even if that means not eating an entire plate of Bolognese from Piccolo Forno or Steak and Frites from Park Bruges. It’s a real test of control when going out on the town to eat and knowing you have to have an honest moment at home when you are counting your calories for the night. It’s a humbling experience when you realize that the huge margarita you just drank was 800 calories of pure sugar and you have to WRITE IT DOWN, which makes it all the more real.

    So, where am I eating this month? All kinds of places that will help me not go home 1000 calories deep into fried foods after only one meal.  Enjoy some fresh seafood, lots of seasonal veggies, and maybe a vodka martini every now and then (just don’t drink your calories, guys!).

Everyday Noodles: This little noodle shop is not only super cute and stylish, but they also serve yummy noodle dishes that are reasonably sized portions and fulfill my craving for all things sweet, salty, and crunchy. Their noodles are full of things like bok choy, peanuts, tempura fried chicken and shrimp, and all kinds of other dreamy stuff. All of the noodle dishes are only $9, which is a fantastic deal for the tasty dishes you are getting. This place is perfect for a quick lunch or a simple dinner. BYOB. 242 South Highland Avenue in Shadyside.

Kaya: Always Kaya. I would eat at Kaya every week if I could. Its aesthetic is funky Caribbean flair (that could use some work), but the food is undeniably delicious no matter what. After 20 years they always have a full house and are serving tasty dishes like their Yucatan Hot Bean Dip, Jamaican Green Curry Vegetables, and their grilled salmon salad with green apples and Manchego. There are so many healthy options here, and a lot of fresh seafood options. I sometimes get “New Restaurant Anxiety” meaning I’m afraid I won’t know how the restaurant works, and I’ll order wrong, and they’ll yell at me or laugh at me when I call and try to make a reservation only two weeks in advance.  Kaya is a very comfortable place to be where everyone is nice, and it’s not pretentious at all. 2000 Smallman Street in the Strip.

The Vandal: It is no wonder that this Lawrenceville hot spot is stealing locals’ hearts with their short and sweet menu complete with ever-changing seasonal ingredients. The dishes are comfort food but are plated so elegantly you’d think you were in a high-end restaurant. Meat eater, vegetarian, or vegan, you will find something filling and wholesome here at The Vandal. No need to worry too much about what to order on the menu—it is all delicious. Anybody who is anybody knows how hard The Vandal rocks. BYOB. 4306 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

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