The next best food truck doesn’t hail from Lawrenceville, but deep in the South Side Slopes.

Sahar’s Food Lab has quietly launched this year with limited appearances across Pittsburgh as they test recipes for their 2024 menu. The truck, built from the ground up, features a pristine kitchen fit for any food show set. The owners moved from the Bronx to Pittsburgh to pursue their culinary dreams.

Jeremy Paterson hands a customer his order from the Sahar’s Food Lab truck. Credit: Foo Conner / The Pittsburgh Reporter

In case you haven’t heard, Pittsburgh is a hot food city. The New York Times declared Apteka one of the Best Restaurants of 2022. Pitaland in Dormont made Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US 2023. And Opentable named Altius in Mt. Washington and Gi-Jin in Downtown as some of the best in the country. This vibrant culture took time to cultivate, especially with food trucks.

It wasn’t long ago that Pittsburghers fought for the right to sell food from a truck. Traditionally, food trucks were limited to private property affairs. One example is when Cambodican Kitchen was located in the lot next to Nick’s Fat City from 1993 to 2003 before securing their own building. It wasn’t until the mid-2010s that PGH Taco Truck and a consortium of foodies banded together and pushed the City of Pittsburgh to update ordinances, enabling a food truck renaissance.

Now, Jeremy Paterson and Sahar Roofeh are part of our food renaissance. South Side Slope residents watched with wonder as the couple outfitted the truck on Pius Street. They had their first taste of Sahar’s Food Lab in late September. By October, Jeremy and Sahar were crossing bridges, taste-testing their menus at Allegheny City Brewing, Trace Brewery, and Velum Fermentation.

The day I came across Sahar’s Food Lab, they were serving Vegan Summer Rolls, Vegetarian Tofu Chimi, Fish Cake Sliders, KLT, and Black Pepper Curry. All were reasonably priced under $10, with the exception of the Black Pepper Curry at $13. If this is an introductory price, get as much as you can. It’s worth it.

Sahar was excited to gather feedback from the Pittsburgh palate. If you didn’t know any better, their all-black truck could be mistaken for a spook’s van. That is until they welcome you up to the window. Their enthusiasm warmed the food far beyond a conventional oven.

The Food Lab’s Vegan Summer Rolls were the standout of the night. The tofu was cooked in black tea, marinated, and smoked. It’s then rolled in rice paper with generous veggies and Thai basil, all served with peanut sauce on the side.

Sahar’s Food Lab is one of the best new tastes in Pittsburgh. Now is the time to taste test their palpable, poppy, and personal experiments they’re running through the end of the year. If you delay, you might have to wait in line next year when they make the “best of” lists.

If you’d like to meet new neighbors and have a snack, here’s Sahar’s Food Lab’s schedule for the rest of the year:

  • December 14th @ 5 pm: Acrospire Brewing
  • December 16th @ 3 pm: Goodlander
  • December 23rd @ 4 pm: Acrospire Brewing
  • December 29th @ 4:30 pm: Trace Brewing
  • December 30th @ 4 pm: Acrospire

You can find their recent schedule on their Instagram here.

Foo, editor of The Pittsburgh Reporter, guides our newsrooms and meets neighbors. He shares heartfelt stories often overlooked.