Pillbox

Cafe 33 Review

I’m always in the mood for trying new restaurants, but like everyone, I have my favorite spots that I know won’t let me down. We need these restaurants — places we bring our family when they visit, places we always go to with specific people, places that fit a certain mood or appetite. For me, one of those places is Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33, better known as just Cafe 33, which satisfies all of those different situations. I’ve taken my parents there, I’ve gone there to catch up with friends, and it’s my go-to spot for consistently good Taiwanese food.

Cafe 33 is in Squirrel Hill, at the intersection of Forbes and Shady Avenues. Take any 61 bus, and you’ll get within a block of the restaurant. After, if you miraculously have room in your stomach left, walk down Forbes or Murray Avenue for Cold Stone or Waffallonia.

Cafe 33 is small, unassuming, and easy to miss, but just look next to the large Starbucks. Inside, the single room is small and casual — nothing fancy. A converted laundromat, it only seats forty people, so be careful if you’re venturing in a busy rush-hour meal time. You’ll see a wide variety of patrons, some getting an authentic taste of home or others trying something new. Many of my friends from Taiwan say this is the best place in Pittsburgh for Taiwanese food. If you’re not sure how Taiwanese cuisine is different from Chinese food, this is the place to go to see for yourself.

Of course, the star of the place is the food. The menu offers so many choices, it can be overwhelming: a multitude of seafood, chicken, pork, beef, and vegetable entrees and select dishes over rice, as well as a long list of noodle soups. I highly recommend anything on the “Over Rice” menu, but my favorite is the Fried Chicken Cutlet Over Rice ($8.50). The chicken is crispy and juicy all at once, and goes perfectly with the side salad and hard-boiled tea egg. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, try the Pork Chop ($8.50) or Minced Braised Pork ($8), both over rice.

On the other side of the menu, Cafe 33 has twenty-six different noodle and noodle soup choices, and I can’t say you can go wrong with any of them. There are the familiar Lo Mein options next to the more traditional Taiwanese Pan Fried or Chow Fun dishes. I’m a fan of the Cafe 33 Special Thick Noodle Soup ($11), which comes with a lot of fish in a hearty broth.

Cafe 33 is close to campus and decently priced, but most importantly, the food is consistently great. The service is simple and clinical, but gets the job done. If you’re looking to give a new place a try, you might soon find this place on your own eatery go-to list, just like how it crept up on mine.