Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on August 23, 2022.
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Whenever we think about restaurants we wish Pittsburgh had more of, our thoughts often go to international food in styles that are horribly underrepresented. Trinidadian food is one such country. Vegan food is one such style.
Enter ShadoBeni- a vegan Trinidadian restaurant that has now found its permanent home in the North Side in the Mexican War Streets.
Throw in the fact that this one is delicious, cheap, and rather approachable (for both takeout and limited dine-in seating), and, well, you can see why this one checks the boxes for us!
ShadoBeni Shines with Doubles and Other Trinidadian Cuisine
If you are a regular farmer's market customer, odds are good you've seen ShadoBeni over the years. This one, named after a Trinidadian herb (also known as culantro), has been a market staple serving up their doubles, pastries (the cassava pone is a treat), and other street food-inspired creations.
One staple from ShadoBeni that has found its way to their permanent storefront is the double. These are thin flatbreads packed with a curried chickpea mixture, served sandwich style, and topped with an array of sauces be it a tamarind chutney, mango chutney, and more. The result is an intensely flavorful sandwich that is light (as the flatbreads are quite thin), with one making for a light snack and two making for a decent lunch all the same.
These work with the curried chickpeas alone, but ShadoBeni's ample sauces makes for creative flavor combinations that have us going back again and again. While we're partial to the mango chutney for the sweetness, you'll do well to try them all over successive orders. If you do order more than one, see if you can get them in cups on the side for a build-your-own-bite adventure.
From there, ShadoBeni offers a number of entree-style dishes that change regularly. When we visited on opening weekend we were able to try the Bhaji Rice with Jerk Chick-Un- a soy-based stir fry that has all the hallmarks of an (admittedly only very lightly) spiced jerk dish while retaining the vegan characteristics. What is unique about this one, beyond the chick-un, was the rice as it was simmered with coconut milk and masala spices that added a rich and creamy element to the dish overall.
There are also a number of sides to consider here to round out a meal, and we sampled the herbed pineapple chow for an acidity kick to our meal at large as well as the spicy slaw with our rice which helped add a nice kick to our meal. Throw on a passionfruit smoothie and we really felt like our entire meal transported us to a vendor in the Caribbean and not a quiet corner of the Mexican War Streets.
But apart from the unique dishes, changing menu, and the flavors, one of the highlights of ShadoBeni is the price. An order of a double and a side at the opening made for a decently sized lunch without breaking the bank. But as many of these foods can be enjoyed as a snack as much as a meal, you can also pop in for a few minutes to try out a double for just a few dollars and be on your way as well (but try as much as you can).
So whether you want to visit ShadoBeni for a snack, a light lunch, or something more substantial, this vegan Trinidadian gem will have something new for you to discover!
ShadoBeni is located at 1534 Brighton Road in the North Side.