There are a few culinary legends--local or otherwise--in every city, and Pittsburgh is no exception. There is no shortage of contenders in this city, especially with the major surge in cultural revitalization that's been taking place here over the past ten or so years. One of those young restaurants that has already established a major presence for itself among the top food destinations in Pittsburgh is Salt of the Earth (Or, as most Pittsburghers simply refer to it, "Salt"). Salt opened just four years ago in 2010 as the brainchild of chef and restaurateur Kevin Sousa (who also runs Union Pig and Chicken, and whose consulting firm helped shape Yo Rita, one of the saddest food losses in Pittsburgh when it closed this year). Though Sousa has since left to start another project in the Braddock neighborhood, Salt remains one of the most celebrated restaurants in Pittsburgh. (Two James Beard nominations in its first three years).
Although it's basically in my back yard--just one neighborhood over in Garfield--this was my first trip. There's no need for me to reiterate all of the laudatory reviews found on dedicated food blogs (nor do I have the expertise to do so), but I can say that Salt lives up to its hype. Simple, gourmet, friendly, inviting. The food is locally sourced from farms in the area, and the bar even serves liquor from the local distilleries, Wigle and Maggie's Farm.
We were on a mission tonight, as we heard some claim that Pittsburgh's best burger resided at Salt. That's a dangerous claim to make in the same city as Tessaro's, BRGR, and Burgatory. No crazy combinations or endless options here: ordering "The Burger" gets you beef, house-made American cheese, some pretty intense dijon mustard, pickles, lettuce, and frites. Well I won't come down on one side or the other, but I will say it was damn good. Made even better by my rye and mint gastrique cocktail.