Market Square 2011 Rookies of the Year

From the Grammys to the Oscars, it's awards season again. While the entertainment industry is honoring the tops of the pops and big-screen blockbusters, we're here to shine the spotlight on the 2011 Market Square Rookies of the Year and our Comeback of the Year. And the winners are...

Winghart's Burgers & Whiskey Bar 
When the doors to this burger joint opened on a freezing cold day last January, the lines were already forming almost to Forbes Avenue. Tucked into the southwest corner of the Square, Winghart's serves its specialty hamburgers to everyone from local deal-making execs and degree-earning college students to tattooed hipsters and Cultural District bound families from the ’burbs. And with waitstaff servers straight from an Elmore Leonard novel or Tom Waits' song, Winghart's grilled burgers and wood-oven gourmet pizzas taste even better with a pint of microbrew beer or a shot of special-blend whiskey. Open 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Friday and noon-10 p.m. Saturday.

NOLA on the Square
Come on and let the good times roll at NOLA, where executive chef Andrew Hebson combines the spirit of Bourbon Street with Creole-infused kitchen creations to deliver a taste of the Crescent City on the Square. To help diners better enjoy the New Orleans vibe, NOLA gets jazzy with live music at least two nights during the week and free valet parking every evening. Whether it's a pre-show cocktail at the bar or a sit-down dinner after the final curtain — or both — NOLA brings the flavors of the Big Easy to Downtown. Get in on the Mardi Gras groove at NOLA 11 a.m-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

DiBella's Old-Fashioned Subs
You'll almost need to pinch yourself upon entering DiBella's in the Square. The old-time look inside this brand-spanking new location is so authentic it feels as though it's been around since the first town criers shouted the daily news to early Pittsburghers who gathered around the Square. The menu features made-to-order sandwiches stacked with freshly sliced meats on baked-on-the-premises breads that are big enough to satisfy just about any size appetite. And with Downtown becoming a 24/7 destination, DiBella's is open every day from 10 a.m-9 p.m. for hungry early birds and night owls.

Taste of Dahntahn Lounge
You don't have to be a Yinzer to love the homespun flavors and humor of Liberty Avenue's newest dining hot spot. Flavored with hints of Dino and Old Blue Eyes and just off the Square, Taste of Dahntahn keeps its glorious kitschy-retro neon sign on from dawn to dusk. During the week, TOD opens at 6:30 a.m for breakfast (and 8 a.m. on the weekends) and stays busy in the kitchen way after the sun goes down. This trip along Downtown's memory lane includes tabletops decorated with old-time photos of the city and Rat Pack Vegas-style entertainment. And don't forget the all-you-can-eat crab legs every Monday night.

Anna's La Cucina Flegrea
"That's amore" might best describe the special ingredient in the southern-Italian dishes that owner Anna Fevola creates in the kitchen of her second-floor restaurant that overlooks the Square from its lofty Graeme Street vantage point. A longtime fixture in Squirrel Hill, Anna is a welcome addition to the Square, where many of her fans are already enjoying her new home in Downtown. Come join Anna for a taste of Italia on Mondays 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturdays 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sundays 12:30-8 p.m.

Noodles & Co.
Literally the new kid on the block—for at least the next couple weeks—Noodles & Co. serves noodles, soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches, and Rice Krispie treats every day from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. with extended hours on Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. Because there are no can openers, microwaves or freezers, every plate of mac and cheese, fried pan noodles and penne is served fresh and made-to-order.With plenty of windows and a bright open dining room, Noodles & Co. is a perfect place for a comfort food and people watching on the Square all day long.

Diamond Market Bar & Grill
We says "cheers" to the Diamond Market Bar & Grill, a cozy corner tavern and restaurant where it seems that everyone knows your name — or soon will. With a nod to the Square's history, the Diamond Market Bar & Grill's name and decor recall an era when locals flocked to the space once known as "The Diamond" for meeting, eating and greeting purposes. With a menu of gourmet Angus hamburgers, sandwiches, craft beers and classic cocktails, this is one Diamond that sparkles plenty. Stop by any day of the week from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. for a bite to eat and even later for a nightcap at the bar.

Sinobi 2 Go
Serving healthy food at happy prices is the mission of this Asian-accented eatery on Market Street. Though it sports a small counter for eating in, Sinobi 2 Go lives up to its name with a takeout menu that's heavy on Japanese and Korean sushi and vegetarian dishes— but not calories. One of the house specialties is the Korean hot dog, an All-American wiener topped with a spicy kimchi and shredded pork or chicken. Perfect for lunch or a quick bite for the ride home, Sinobi 2 Go is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Las Velas

We tip our sombreros to our amigos at Las Velas for a much-anticipated and welcome return to the Square. After a fire closed this Mexican eatery late in 2010, Las Velas reopened in 2011 with a hot, hot, hot comeback. With south of the border favorites on the revamped menu, Las Velas earns a hearty "Ole!" for its traditional burritos, smothered enchiladas and seafood. And don't forget to order fresh chips and salsa and an authentic margarita to complete this culinary road trip to Mexico. Las Velas is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-8 p.m Sunday.

And for an even bigger taste of the city's best dining, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week 2012 serves up a wide sampling of the city's top restaurants. With great choices all over town, participating Downtown restaurants include Market Square's Bella Sera Urban TrattoriaElements just down the block on Stanwix, and Habitat located in the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Bon appetit!

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