Pittsburgh is a great breakfast town. Places like Pamela’s, DeLuca’s, Square Café and Dor-Stop all have their devotees. But, there is nowhere I would rather be for an early morning meal than at a counter seat in the Gab & Eat, a blue collar urban hash house just west of downtown.
What you want to order is the mixed grill, a hodge-podge of potatoes, peppers, onions, eggs and a meat of your choice. You can get ham or bacon, but the sausage, which they grind their own is the way to go. The sweet sausage is more savory than sweet. Even better is the coarsely textured, succulent hot sausage, with a heat that can sneak up on you. How hot is the hot sausage? It is usually mild enough that most diners can handle it without much difficulty, but there has been a few occasions when it has been a real scorcher. If you do order the mixed grill, remember to get the 1/2 order, which is enough to fill most appetites. Only the most prodigious eaters will be able to take on the whole mixed grill. Other recommended breakfast options are the pancakes and the eggy French toast, both of which can be ordered one at a time or in short stacks of two or three.
At lunchtime, they make fine looking hoagies and club sandwiches, but those in the know get the burgers, featuring slim patties, with gnarly, crusty edges. Still, on a recent noontime visit, the grill was mostly filled with hash browns, pancakes and plenty of that sausage.
As good as the food is, the Gab & Eat is much more than just a place to eat. The customers are all locals, fueling up for the day ahead or winding down after the night shift. The banter back and forth between regulars, waitresses and cooks, all in thick Pittsburgh accents, is sure to entertain. I don’t ever remember an occasion while eating at the counter when I wasn’t pulled into the conversation.
Gab & Eat is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch and is cash only.