Today’s Pittsburgh City Guide comes from Pittsburgh transplants Courtney Patterson, Cleo Zell and Vivien Luk. Courtney is a writer who moved to the city for graduate school six years ago. She actively seeks out interesting stories in the city, gravitating to topics like green design, sustainability and urban revitalization. Cleo and Vivien have worked in local nonprofits and organized fun events aimed at bringing communities together, such as shopping parties, a Bavarian Supper Club and a massive water-balloon fight in downtown Pittsburgh. Today, these ladies take us on a tour of this revitalized city through a comprehensive list of cafes, shops, and must-see attractions (arranged alphabetically). Thanks, ladies, for this wonderful guide! — Stephanie
CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!
Affectionately dubbed “The City of Bridges,” the Pittsburgh cityscape has drawn comparisons to Portland and Venice. Like these cities, it’s a striking blend of chic modernism and old-world charm. The panorama is breathtaking: three rivers converge at the city’s center, brick houses line the hilly distance, and old industrial yards now flourish as gardens and reinvented commercial spaces. The repeated “wows” from visitors exiting the Fort Pitt tunnel and confronted with a stunning view of downtown prove that Pittsburgh packs a punch. This city may not be the most obvious destination spot, but its renovated storefronts, thriving arts culture and pervasive can-do spirit suggest a city that has risen beyond its sooty past. Pittsburgh is sizable city with a small-town feel, hosting a patchwork of neighborhoods that offer unique experiences for residents and visitors alike.
We want to put Pittsburgh on the map, so the following guide includes the sights and shops that make this city a cultural center and design hub in its own right. We’ve featured our favorite stomping grounds below. We’d love to hear about yours!
21st St. Coffee and Tea — Strip District
Named for its location in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, 21st St. Coffee and Tea brews specialty coffee by Intelligentsia and Ecco. Sit with your cup of java in the loft to catch a view of the bustling marketplace.
Espresso A Mano — Lawrenceville
This espresso bar drip brews and French presses a variety of fair trade and sustainable coffees. A bare-bones space with exposed brick walls, Espresso A Mano leaves you with few reading distractions and plenty of room for contemplation.
Voluto Coffee — Garfield
If you’re a fan of direct-trade, French-pressed coffee, this is your spot! They’re all about the Drink Local concept here, inspired by the Buy Local movement, so much so that you’ll even be able to purchase a “Drink Local” tee from them.
Make Your Mark Artspace and Coffeehouse - Point Breeze, 6736 Reynolds Street, 412.365.2117
A vegetarian café and coffeehouse in Point Breeze that features one of the loveliest backyard patios in Pittsburgh.
Oh Yeah! Ice Cream and Waffles — Shadyside
This coffee shop serves up ice cream and waffles – a pretty heavenly combo if you ask us. And if that isn’t enough, the interior offers plenty of eye candy: artwork, used books, quirky signs, and a small general store of goodies.
Colangelo’s — Strip District
An authentic Italian breakfast and lunch counter where folks congregate to read the Italian news, sip espressos, and play cards. Count on hearing Italian spoken daily.
Dave and Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor — Oakland, 207 Atwood Street, 412.681.9906
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the creamiest of them all? Dave and Andy’s ice cream! It’s homemade, local and addictive. The vanilla scent will lure you in.
Coca Café — Lawrenceville
This brunch hotspot proves good food is worth the wait. With menu items like Herbed Goat Cheese French Toast and Avocado Omelets, it’s no wonder people love Coca. The café showcases local art and has an outdoor patio, too.
Bistro To Go — Northside
Located in Pittsburgh’s Deustchtown, this bistro offers “casual comfort food.” Their culinary geniuses dish up a variety of nutritious meals that change daily.
Church Brew Works — Bloomfield
This church-turned-pub brews a handful of heavenly beers: Roggen Beer, Celestial Gold, Pipe Organ Pale, Pious Monk Dunkel and Bell Tower Brown Ale. They also have tons of TVs for sports fans and a patio for outdoor lovers. Oh, and they have awesome pierogies, as well.
D’s Six Pax and Dogz — Regent Square
They have a beer cave. ‘Nuff said. Okay, they also have the best fixings for hot dogs. Try the “Big Ben” if you want to fit in with the locals. Pittsburghers love to slap fries and coleslaw between their buns.
Dinette — East Liberty
Their recipe for popular dining: combine fresh, local organic ingredients, an ever changing wine list and a rising star chef to put some more pizazz in the average pizza pie. Anyone who dares to put peppered bacon on a pizza is an instant winner in our minds.
Enrico Biscotti — Strip District
Dripping with European charm, Enrico Biscotti is a bakery specializing in, not surprisingly, biscotti and other Italian pastries. Buy some biscotti from the shop, or wander through the wrought-iron gateway to the café, where you can savor the best beans and greens you’ll ever have.
E2 — Highland Park
Enrico Biscotti’s numero due location serves strictly weekend brunch. Start your day off sweet with the sourdough ginger sugar doughnuts.
Food Glorious Food — Highland Park
Wonderful food, marvelous food, glorious food. That’s what you can expect from this bakery, where people line up on Saturdays to buy gourmet treats. The owners are not afraid to share their secrets by providing demos and classes offered at reasonable rates.
Hough’s — Greenfield
This family-owned restaurant and bar is a great venue for sports fans. Check them out on game night, and try one of their 300+ beers.
J’eet — Lawrenceville
Half coffee house, half bistro, J’eet’s flavors are decidedly French and Californian. The menu features delicious salads, sandwiches and crepes. With painted yellow walls, it is sunny even on the dreariest Pittsburgh days.
Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery — Millvale
Once touted “Best French Encounter” and “A Bakery to Die for,” Jean-Marc offers the best in French pastries in a little shop in Millvale. They even have traveling versions of their Breton cake and other goodies!
Legume Bistro — Regent Square
The small, family-run bistro creates gourmet meals with the freshest raw ingredients from local farms and vendors. It’s easy to spend the entire night there without even knowing it.
Quiet Storm — Friendship
If you have a hankering for a heaping helping of delicious homestyle vegan, this is the place to go. This coffee house serves an array of fresh smoothies, coffee drinks, and a “curry of the day” — so yummy and affordable you’ll feel like you’re stealing from the kitchen.
Pamela’s — Strip District
President Obama’s favorite pancake spot. Pamela’s pancakes are not your run-of-the-mill flapjacks; they’re crepe-style hotcakes. Try them, love them and go back for more.
Pho Minh — Garfield, 4917 Penn Avenue, 412.661.7443
Family run pho shop that does it right. With good broth, perfectly cooked noodles and the proper fixings, it’s the type of comfort food you’re craving on a Sunday night.
Pusadee’s Garden — Lawrenceville, 5321 Butler Street Pittsburgh, 412.781.8724
This Thai restaurant has a simple, classy interior and a beautiful patio. Treat yourself to the freshest fresh rolls in town, and bring a bottle of bubbly; it’s BYOB.
Round Corner Cantina — Lawrenceville
Young owners have transformed an old hotel into a hopping spot for spicy cocktails, street tacos and the best seitan and guacamole you’ve ever tasted. Be ready to wait; their delectables are in high demand.
Rose Tea Café — Squirrel Hill, 5874 Forbes Avenue, 412.421.2238
Taiwanese food, anyone? Rose Tea Cafe offers a variety of Taiwanese cuisine with affordable lunch and dinner specials and specialty drinks, such as bubble teas and snow bubbles.
Spice Island Tea House — Oakland
A tiny spot with tons of flavor at an affordable price! The atmosphere makes you feel a bit like you’re in southeast Asia. They even serve imported beers like Singha and Tiger Beer.
Square Café — Regent Square
Besides an awesome breakfast and lunch selection, they also make really tasty shakes and smoothies like blueberry peanut-butter. Sounds strange, tastes incredible.
Tamari — Lawrenceville
Fusing Latin and Asian flavors, Tamari lets you mix and match sushi, ceviche, quesadillas, skewers and other tasty bites. It’s hip, cosmopolitan and exotic all at once.
Tana — East Liberty
Authentic Ethiopian food located in the heart of East Liberty. From delicious appetizers (the Kay Sir Selata (Red Beets Salad) is a must try) to filling entrees (the Doro Wot (Chicken) is a crowd-pleaser), this place will leave you quite satisfied!
Tin Front Café — Homestead
Tin is not surprisingly the centerpiece of this café. Pale yellow walls are punctuated by red tin sconces, and the bar is adorned with tin reused from the ceiling. Try the creative vegetarian cuisine or one of the 25 varieties of Pennsylvania craft micro-brews.
Zenith — South Side
Best vegetarian Sunday brunch, hands down. For $10, you get an entrée, a buffet and a beverage. Along with an amazing meal, you can enjoy shopping in the antique store that shares space with the restaurant.
Brillobox — Lawrenceville
This hipster haven borrows from the Andy Warhol aesthetic. It’s a popular venue for live music, dance parties and mingling with friends.
Firehouse Lounge — Strip District
Located in an old firehouse, this lounge is one of the most popular among locals and tourists. Weave your way between dance parties in the lounge and on the outdoor deck. Cocktails from their downstairs bar, Embury, are customized to your taste buds.
Kelly’s Bar and Lounge — East Liberty, 6012 Penn Circle South, 412.363.6012
When we think mac n’ cheese, sweet potato fries and some good funk/soul tunes, we think Kelly’s. This bar & lounge has a vintage vibe — it’s dimly lit, decked out in red vinyl booths and features a great jukebox. Check out the back patio when the weather turns warm; it’s tiki themed.
Shadow Lounge and Ava — East Liberty
These two lounges are adjoined by a hallway, but each offers a distinctly original vibe. Saunter into Ava if you’re in a sultry, mellow mood, and sip a cocktail in candlelight on one of the white cushy couches lining its black walls. If you’re feeling feisty, venture into the colorful, vibrant Shadow Lounge to catch a show or dance your heart out. Either way, expect eclectic beats.
Ambiance — Regent Square, Oakmont, Lawrenceville
This high-end consignment store has what you need for work or play. They hold shopping parties for customers and always have sales to benefit Bethlehem Haven’s Women Shelter, where all of the store’s proceeds go.
Apartment — South Side
Apartment is a boutique of Nami Ogawa and Brian Holderman, a fashion designer–artist couple who always add some funk and urban spice to the Pittsburgh scene. Nami designs Zeto Clothing brand and Brian creates graphic design for Cloud 8.
Artemis — Lawrenceville
This showroom for green building products lets you get a feel for materials like cork flooring, cotton insulation and recycled carpet tiles.
Avalon — Squirrel Hill
Great thrift store where you can trade in used clothes and walk away with trendy new finds.
Common Thread — Lawrenceville
A volunteer-run store that offers affordable secondhand clothing. Tucked into the rows are Ann Taylor and vintage items. This is “feel good” shopping, folks.
Elements — Lawrenceville, 5171 Butler, 412.681.7627
A consignment shop for style- and design-minded customers, featuring furniture, clothing, jewelry, knick knacks and more.
Evolve — Lawrenceville
A hair salon headed by the spunkiest, best stylist, Beth. We’re all a fan here!
Handmade Arcade — Various locations
An annual indie craft fair featuring almost 100 crafters and artisans from Pittsburgh and a handful of other states. Best place to buy local, handmade unique gifts just in time for the holidays.
Hot Haute Hot — Strip District
Off the beaten track, this funky boutique offers furniture, home décor and jewelry from around the world.
I Made It Market — Various Locations
A nomadic indie craft marketplace filled with handmade goodness sold by local artisans. These markets pop up everywhere in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, and they help raise funds and awareness to improve the community.
Jerry’s Records — Squirrel Hill
A mecca for record junkies, you can spend days digging through Jerry’s stacks of used LPs and 45s. The store attracts customers from around the world.
Luxx n’ Locks — South Side, 1003 East Carson Street, 412.381.2957
Mod meets ruffles and DIY in this boutique. The shop features fantastic vintage clothes, fashions by local designers and artisans, fun jewelry and a hair salon.
pageboy — Lawrenceville
A hair salon and clothing boutique under one roof. The front half of the store is filled with racks of upcycled party dresses, hand-selected vintage shoes, and unique items by local and independent designers. Shoppers can complete their look with hair stylings in the salon at the back of the shop.
Paul’s Compact Discs — Bloomfield, 4526 Liberty Avenue, 412.621.3256
Run straight to Paul’s for the latest new or obscure releases on CD and vinyl. A good place to pick up local music, too.
Pavement — Lawrenceville
Known for their shoe selection, this ultra-hip and fantastically designed boutique also has great clothing by indie and local designers.
Pittsburgh Flea — Strip District
Flea . . . as in flea market? YES! It runs from April to November on every Sunday from 8am to 3pm, and it is filled with goodies that will make you wish you had brought more cash.
Retro on Eighth — Homestead
This store is a wonderland of fun and quirky designed furniture, household goods and clothing from the 1950s to 1980s. Necklaces of Charlie’s Angels originals are displayed on the walls next to Bertoia chairs.
Wildcard — Lawrenceville
Handmade everything here, from hula hoops to pot holders to stationary. It’s a fun place to shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.
Zombo Gallery and Wear It Clothing — Lawrenceville
Rockabilly, surf rock, tattoos, art and vintage clothes combine to create a super groovy gallery, event space and storefront.
Andy Warhol Museum — Northside
A seven-story warehouse-turned-museum dedicated to Pittsburgh’s native son and pop culture icon, Andy Warhol. The museum is chock-full of iconic paintings, prints, film, photographs and archives that include Warhol’s diaries and “time capsules.” The museum also throws killer parties, concerts and film screenings.
The Carnegie Museum of Art — Oakland
The art museum offers a distinguished collection of traditional and contemporary art. Every four years, it hosts the renowned Carnegie International, the oldest exhibition of international contemporary art in North America.
Cathedral of Learning — Oakland
You don’t need to use the sun as a compass when the Cathedral can be spotted just about anywhere in the city. It’s the second tallest education building in the world and a magnificent historic landmark. Besides its height, most notable are the international classrooms modeled after classrooms in other countries.
Children’s Museum — Northside
Pittsburgh is a fantastic place for kids. Here, kids and adults can enjoy an award-winning museum with a Fred Rogers exhibit, among many others, and an ever-welcoming, playful atmosphere.
Future Tenant — Downtown
Managed by students of Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School Master of Arts Management program, this gallery offers a laboratory setting for up and coming artists, curators, and future arts managers. Students are able to explore their craft without limits.
The Frick Museum — Point Breeze
There’s plenty to pique your interest on the grounds where Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick lived. Tour the mansion, view the latest exhibitions in The Frick Art Museum, check out the collection of antique cars and carriages in the carriage house and rest your feet in the Frick Café, where ingredients for its gourmet lunches are grown in the garden and greenhouse onsite.
This urban park has it all — a beautiful reservoir, jogging trails, bike track, swimming pool, volleyball court and shelters with grills. Not only is it a great place for a sizzling summer barbecue, it’s near the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, in case you’d like to explore another great Pittsburgh amenity on the same day.
Kelly Strayhorn Theater — East Liberty
An historic performing arts center located in the heart of East Liberty, the theater offers spectacular performances, as well as community programs to support local artists and art groups.
Panza Gallery — Millvale
More than a gallery, Panza offers yoga , tai chi and painting and drawing classes. On the weekends, find established and up and coming local artists mixing for openings and closings. If that’s not enough, it’s also a great frame shop.
Phipps Conservatory — Oakland
An expansive Victorian greenhouse showcasing a range of tropical, native, and desert flora. The gardens are ever-changing with seasonal shows that integrate art with the botanical backdrop. This place offers the best elixir for the winter blues.
Pillow Project — Point Breeze
Founded by students of Point Park University who had the desire to stay in the ‘burgh and pursue dance, the Pillow Project is a contemporary dance company that combines interesting multimedia with jazz choreography.
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts — Squirrel Hill
Housed in a stately yellow Victorian, this art gallery showcases contemporary art exhibitions by regional artists. It also offers community art education classes.
PNC Park — Northside
This park is designed for a stellar view of our city. It doesn’t matter if the home team wins when you have the view, the sunshine and your pals. Our favorite nights to go are dollar hot dog nights and bobble head nights. Be on the lookout for the pierogie race!
Schenley Park — Oakland
A park with a breathtaking view of Pittsburgh, Schenley Park hosts runners, tennis players, soccer leagues, turkey bowls and some of the most amazing ultimate frisbee games. They also have an ice rink for those who like to brave the harsh cold winter temperatures!
Space — Downtown
Stretched out across a downtown block, this art gallery really is a defining space, offering contemporary exhibitions that are often edgy and avant-garde.
St. Nicholas Catholic Church — Millvale
Pittsburgh’s version of the Sistine Chapel. Croatian artist Maxo Vanka painted magnificent murals in St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Millvale, the river town bordering Pittsburgh.
Toonseum — Downtown
They call this place “a museum with character,” and who can argue that? Inside, the walls are dressed with exhibitions of cartoons. Outside, the museum promotes cartoon-oriented education programming. The $4 admission ticket is a steal.