Eco Bistro, a cafeteria-style breakfast-and-lunch spot, is virtually hidden deep within the less-than-bustling Allegheny Center Mall. This joint venture of mall tenant PNC Bank and Parkhurst Dining is a five-minute walk from PNC Park. But amidst the mostly blind plate-glass windows of the former shopping mall's two-story atrium, its array of tables feels like an oasis of humanity.
The food, meanwhile, is good, fresh stuff, with plentiful choices. At lunchtime, the deli counter's made-to-order hummus-and-provolone on sourdough was splendid, and came with a huge side of crunchy fresh slaw. Other choices include fresh-dough pizza; hot soups; a salad bar; grill options, including burgers; and fresh-baked pie. The staff is friendly, and prices are reasonable. (A whole deli sandwich is $6.) There's outdoor seating, too.
What about Eco Bistro's eco-ambitions? Despite the green messages on wall-mounted video screens, it's hard to forget that PNC itself still bankrolls environmentally damaging practices like mountaintop-removal coal-mining.
But give Eco Bistro credit for trying. Bamboo walls and countertops made of recycled glass bottles, among other touches, make for a clean feel. Some ingredients are sourced locally — including a few from on-site planters fertilized with in-house compost. Vegetarian options mean you're less likely to buy a resource-devouring food like beef. And even the plates and utensils can be composted — though more detailed signage on the receptacles would help patrons discern the difference between waste, recyclables and compostables. 116 Allegheny Center Mall, North Side. 412-442-1564