Earlier in the week, a colleague’s birthday freed me from my cube and sent me on a 15 minute walk into the Strip District. My destination: Kaya, located at 2000 Smallman Street, in the Strip District.
Kaya is a restaurant within the Big Burrito Group. I think after my visit to Kaya, I have now dined at all the Big Burrito establishments (Mad Mex, Casbah, Soba, Umi, Eleven, Kaya). I am not sure I have a favorite, but I think these restaurants continue to be decent choices for dining out in Pittsburgh.
I was at Kaya for lunch – they have an interesting lunch menu peppered with unique sandwiches and various entrees such as quesidillas and paella. I was a bit disappointed to only see one or two salads on the menu. Those are usually my go to lunch options.
The interior of Kaya is long and narrow, reached by a Smallman Street entrance. A nice looking bar flanks one side of the front part of the restaurant. Seems like this might be a nice happy hour spot (and hey, the website says half off drinks and draft beers M-F, 5PM-7PM). The decor is a bit eclectic – interesting sculptures and artwork, lots of color. The place isn’t super fancy but I would imagine it achieves a nice ambiance at night – relaxed, trendy-ish, fun.
After perusing the menu, I decided on the option of half a pork and banana sandwich, a small side of sweet potato fries and a small side salad (this was kind of a ‘you pick two (or three?)’ section of the lunch menu). Several people I was dining with also went for the pork and banana sandwich.
Service was friendly, although we did wait probably 15-20 minutes for our lunches to come out. In a dinner setting, this likely would not bother me. However, when you can clearly see a table is in business attire and likely heading back to work, it seems there might be an effort to turn us over faster? No? The place wasn’t particularly crowded. I had the same issue at a lunch at Eleven not too long ago – I just can’t always take a two hour lunch! I guess I should just shut it and accept that a nice lunch takes a little more time…
Anyways, my lunch eventually arrived and I dug in. The side salad was nicely dressed in a lemony vinaigrette. The sweet potato fries were reasonably crispy and pretty tasty. The sandwich was a great combo of flavors. My meal was around $10 and I did not finish it.
Overall, I enjoyed the lunch and interesting combinations of ingredients on the menu. However, my lunch was a little heavy (rich pork, french fries) and I felt like I didn’t see many ‘lighter’ options on the menu. Yet, this is a more personal complaint – I prefer a light lunch.
I would like to give Kaya another try, perhaps for dinner. Or maybe a happy hour? I like the island cuisine – makes me vaguely reminiscent of the time The Boy and I spent in PR..
If I can grab a little of that flavor in Pittsburgh Strip District, I’m in :)