1) The newly opened Con Alma (Spanish for “with soul”) combines Latin cuisine with a jazz setting. The cuisine includes tacos, quesadillas, and entrées such as arroz con pollo (“rice and chicken,” Cuban style). There are also vegetarian items, including a jimaca salad that incorporates mango. Almost every night features live music. Noted jazz guitarist/music director and co-owner John Shannon and his Nosmo King Trio are the house band, playing many weeknights. Weekends will feature other renowned local jazz artists. The bistro is 1900 square feet; plenty of room to bust a move. Sundays is jazz brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This might be a good time to try one of the restaurant’s contemporary cocktails, like Root Down, which mixes Anejo Rum with coffee liquor among other ingredients. Con Alma is closed Tuesdays but opens 5 p.m. every other day except Sunday. An outdoor patio and daily vinyl happy hour are other big draws here. In addition to Shannon, the other co-owners are General Manager Aimee Marshall and Executive Chef Josh Ross. 5884 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside. (CM,RH)
2) Biddle’s Escape, on Biddle Avenue between Regent Square and Wilkinsburg has a great selection of coffee drinks, teas, and sweet treats. One that has been getting a lot of “buzz” is the Hungarian Szegedi Kave, a Hungarian style espresso with steamed half-and-half, vanilla sugar, Szeged cinnamon, and whipped cream. Another cool thing is their patio where on a warm day you can sit beneath the trees and carved wood faces and enjoy the shade. As you may remember from local history and a movie titled Mrs. Soffel, the Biddle brothers escaped from the Allegheny County jail with the aid of Mrs. Soffel (the warden’s wife who was in love with one of the brothers) in 1902. 401 Biddle Ave., Regent Square/Wilkinsburg.