LUNCH BREAK: THE SPECKLED EGG NOW OPEN

There’s something really old-fashioned and sort of romantic about a downtown lunch counter in a big city. Pittsburgh’s downtown area had been lacking this type of casual-yet-refined midday dining option — that is, until the Speckled Egg.

This stylish all-day café breaks the rules while following a tried-and-true formula. It has practical, grab-and-go fare for your busiest work days, but it also serves brunch every day of the week for your most frivolous days off. The Speckled Egg fills a much-needed void in the downtown lunch scene: it offers fresh, elevated takes on sandwiches, soups and salads, a full-service coffee bar and, better yet, a beautiful real bar that extends out into the Union Trust building’s stunning atrium for some serious happy hour views.

When we visited, it was just around lunchtime. We were hungry, but we also wanted the full Speckled Egg experience. Posted up at the bar in the center of a large lunch crowd, we ordered a turkey sandwich, a patty melt and two mimosas for good measure. Everything was classic, but just a bit better than the usual: the turkey sandwich had edamame hummus, the pickles were homemade, and our mimosas were made with kombucha and fresh squeezed grapefruit instead of OJ.

In a building where 800 people come to work every day, the Speckled Egg has a tough job. As far as we saw, though, it worked effortlessly — the banquettes and cozy couches were filled with coworkers sharing sandwiches, the bar was buzzing with people shouting greetings as they passed, and more hurried visitors grabbed freshly wrapped sandwiches to take along with them to their meeting or their office. The atmosphere felt light and fast-paced, but never rushed, which is exactly what you’d hope to see in a modern lunch counter.

Aside from the atmosphere, the Speckled Egg also boasts reclaimed wood tables and the building’s original floors, as well as vintage touches like a 1950s refrigerator that the owners scored on Craigslist. Owners Jacqueline and Nate Schoedel described their style as “traditional made modern.” Whether you’re looking for a hemp milk latte in the morning or a dry martini after a particularly long day, the Speckled Egg has both — and even Tuesday afternoon brunch, if that’s what you really need.