101 GuidescityTravel

pittsburgh city guide

by Stephanie

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.

[photos by Anna Lee Fields]

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.

Highland Park
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.

Suggested For You


  • Thank you for this! I went to school in pittsburgh over 10 years ago and most of our old spots aren’t there any more but it’s nice to see that there are lots more to visit next time I go out there.

  • I love Pittsburgh. We love visiting and coca cafe is absolutely fabulous and I’m still dreaming about that fish taco at the round corner cantina.

  • I’ve lived in Pittsburgh my whole life and it’s truly a fantastic city. It’s so great to see a guide finally posted. You guys did a wonderful job creating this.

  • Good to see…though Pgh has always been on the map (ahem)…grew up there & would go back in two minutes if there was a job. Anyway, I wanted to say, you missed Moop. I understand that you cannot cover all — & I have so many more sights/museums, etc. — but Moop. Proudly sustainable & made in Pgh bags.


  • Pittsburgh is hands down the BEST city in the US. So much love for this place I can’t contain it. Great to see it get some ups. Good job, girls!

  • I’m sure that when you wrote this city guide, it wasn’t open yet, but no serious discussion of hip, relevant, must-eat Pittsburgh restaurants is complete without Salt of the Earth (www.saltpgh.com), 5523 Penn Ave.

  • Another museum that people should check out is The Mattress Factory. It’s an amazing contemporary art museum housed in a former mattress factory in the City’s North Side (which is worth wandering around as well).


  • This is wonderful! Pittsburgh is the love of my life.

    The best thing about Oh Yeah! is that they have vegan ice cream and vegan waffles. Both are pretty hard to find even the bigger cities.

    Also, if you’re looking for affordable mid-century furniture, you have to check out Mostly Mod in homestead, a few doors down from Retro on Eighth. Bernie, the owner, is a gem.

  • Fantastic guide!! I went to school in Pittsburgh 3 yrs ago (well, 7-3 yrs ago, I suppose) and I fell in love. You’ve got some great spots on the list (particularly Pamela’s, Church Brew Works, and Rose Tea Cafe) but you left of Rita’s Ice!! Delicious and refreshing Italian ice, a Pittsburgh specialty.

    Also, I’m particularly fond of Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland. Their food is delish, and every night starting at 11 pm (but you better go early and put your name on the list) they participate in half-price, meaning most of the menu is half-off. Don’t forget to tip on the full, though!

  • I just moved from Pittsburgh to Chicago about 2 months ago. If I may add a few –
    Crazy Mocha for a caramocha, a blendy drink that is better than a frappuccino;
    Casbah for yummy risotto or a delish $22 prix fixe brunch that includes an appetizer, entree, and cocktail.
    Mercurio’s Mulberry Creamery, a gelato place with 40+ flavors daily.
    I second the Pamela’s and Spice Island recommendations, as well as the Cathedral of Learning (which I have used as a compass multiple times).

  • Pittsburgh WAS the best kept secret but I’m so glad it’s finally featured here! So much opportunity in this place just waiting to be taken advantage of. I love da’burgh!!

  • My god I love this town! And I never tire of learning about more to love here. Thank you ladies, for showing how awesome our city really is, and for turning me on to a few spots I haven’t checked out yet!

  • I just went to Pittsburgh for the day a few weeks ago. It was my first time there and I was really impressed with it…will definitely be going back and spending more time. Exiting the tunnel really was a thrill. Also, nearby Braddock, PA was a neat stop. It’s practically abandoned, but people are trying to build it back up…lots of DIY and art scattered around the town.

  • Pittsburgh is our “fallback” town to move to. I loved it the one time that I visited, and I’m happy to see so many great things about it. I might even like it more than where we live now, in LA!

  • I moved to Pittsburgh a few years ago and love it so dearly. Great job on the guide! I would have to suggest all the Big Burrito Group restaurants (Mad Mex, Kaya, Umi, Soba…), Penhollows in Shady Side for great gifts, Frick Park for dog walking and Garfield Artworks in Garfield for great shows. Manny, owner, is a riot. You will either love him or hate him.
    Yay for Pittsburgh!

  • Oh how I miss Pittsburgh! I lived there for 2 years while my sister danced for the ballet (PBT). Church brewworks and Jerry’s records bring back especially good memories. Thank you!

  • I love that you featured Da Burg- but you left out so many awesome places! #1 being Primanti Brothers- a Pittsburgh classic! I know you couldn’t list every place- but come on!

  • What a great resource! Our daughter and son-in-law live in Pittsburgh. We will have to visit often to enjoy even a fraction of all these creative places.

  • I loved every minute of the four years I lived in Pittsburgh, and I’m so glad to see it featured here. Lots of folks seem to have a negative sterotype of Pittsburgh and that is such an antiquated idea. It is a lively, thriving, affordable city.

    Here here on The Church Breworks (they also make a mean mojito in the summer) and Mad Mex! One place we always hit when we visit is Tram’s Kitchen for YUMMY Vietnamese in Lawrenceville. They have the best spring rolls I have ever eaten. But order fast or Tram will order for you!

  • SO glad to see my hometown featured! I second the comments about the Mattress Factory museum…and Arsenal Lanes…and Primanti’s! Also, I need to throw in the Heinz History Center.

  • Finally a Pittsburgh guide! I love it here, I hope to never, ever move. And I practically live on Bistro to Go and Square Cafe cuisine…yum. SO glad to hear about some places that are new to me.

  • great review !! born and bred in the ‘burgh. thanks for mentioning the i made it market and handmade arcade…great in die craft markets at which i have vended !


    Pittsburgh is a great and amazing city! I lived there 6 yrs and miss it daily!!

    Some of my favorites that were missed:

    1) MATTRESS FACTORY!!!! (northside)

    2) The Strip District on a Sat or Sun morning (strip district)

    3)Cafe Zinho (shadyside)

    4) Vanilla Pastry Studio (east lib)

    5) Allegheny Cemetery (Garfield/Bloomfield)

    6)Roxanne’s Dried Flowers (strip)

    7)Carnegie Library of Pgh, connected to the Carnegie Museum of Art and CM of Natural History (oakland)

    8) Frick Park (regent square / point breeze)

    9) crepes parisienne (shadyside)

    These are the place and things i would do on a typical weekend. I could go on but as you can tell from the guide, there is already sooo much to see and do.

    Love you pittsburgh and miss you!!

  • Great work Courtney, Viv and Cleo! Every time I thought I had finally found all the ‘burgh’s great hot spots I learn of more . . . thanks for sharing! p.s. I learned of this blog from a friend in Madison, so way to spread the news!

  • Thank you for listing I Made It! Market. The hundreds of participating local artists make each one unique and showcase the pride that we have in our great city’s people and businesses!

  • This compilation is fantastic, nice job Courtney and crew!! Makes me miss the ‘burgh even more…

  • I’ve been thinking all week how much I want to move home to Pittsburgh.

    I think this entry is a sign I should. <3

  • Great list of Pittsburgh highlights! I’ve been here 13 years and am still finding it to be a great place to be for a creative person!

  • I moved about from Pittsburgh two years ago this week for a job in Houston and I miss it every day. So happy to see my old South Side neighborhood represented! That Zenith brunch IS fantastic, and I’m not even a vegetarian!

  • Jerry’s Records is the BEST! I miss it so much since I moved. I would also like to add Eides downtown for records, imports, posters and vintage finds

    1121 Penn Ave

  • Meh…I could skip the fries on the sandwich thing (and I should have when I was there last) though, you’re right, it’s famous enough to be included.

    Awesome idea to post on Pittsburgh…I do miss all the bridges.

  • I live in North Oakland and highly recommend “365 Views of the Cathedral of Learning” by the Spanish artist Felix de La Concha. This gorgeous series of oil paintings was originally shown at the Carnegie Museum and is now housed on the 7th floor of Pitt’s Alumni Hall (across from the Cathedral on Fifth Ave). It’s free, “local” and truly inspired–one of the city’s best kept secrets!

  • Fresh Heirlooms (www.FreshHeirlooms.com) is a good example of a really small but really awesome Pgh. interior design-based business. They do lots of good work with youth in the community, too, teaching girls to use tools.

  • I’ve been waiting for this! Pittsburgh is my stomping grounds, SO happy you did a city guide for it.
    And, there are a few places on here I haven’t been to – perfect!!!
    Very nicely done.
    It’s a beautiful city, and yes… LOTS of bridges but wow, at night… VISIT MT. WASHINGTON, use the Inclines to get up (I recommend the one closest to Station Square for a better view of the city) and it’s breathtaking.

  • :( I went to Pittsburgh last month… I did check design sponge first for a city guide.

  • Primanti Brothers is disgusting and is featured on way too many Pittsburgh guides, I think just out of habit. I like the idea of fries and slaw on a giant sandwich but the restaurants are gross and the fries are soggy and tasteless and the slaw is dry and seriously, I think Primanti’s is just riding on their reputation. I really wish people would stop recommending them to visitors.

  • So great to finally see a Pittsburgh guide! You guys hit some great spots. I just have to throw a plug for Dozen; cupcakes, pastries and coffee in 4 locations and a fantastic Sunday brunch in their main Lawrenceville spot. Their cinnamon rolls, savory scones and cornflake bars will change your life. mmmmm.

  • Thank you! I’ve been waiting for this!

    I wanted to add the Beehive for coffee on Carson, plus Vanilla for cupcakes on Penn Circle.

  • Oh my goodness…I haven’t been online all week and missed this post until today…Hooray! I grew up in Pittsburgh and just moved back after 12 years away. There is truly nothing like it!
    There are some great additions to the list above. I second mentions of Salt (although, come on, Jay, it just opened last week!), Moop, Shadow Lounge and Ava, and the Mattress Factory (one of the best installation art galleries on the east coast). I’ll add Point Brugge for food, Construction Junction (http://www.constructionjunction.org) for great re-purposed building and design materials, and our beautiful, and unmatched, city parks.
    The very best thing to do in Pittsburgh is visit all the neighborhoods and walk the streets – I have lived many other places, and you don’t see houses and neighborhoods like this anywhere but Europe.
    But I’m with Sarah and Rick on Primanti’s!

  • Yeah!!! My hometown! Pittsburghers are a very proud bunch and I’m so happy to see this guide; made my day!

    I miss the Flea terribly; I spent every Saturay there as a kid. I want to mention too The Mattress Factory; one of the best museums in the city (the Children’s museum is amazing too!) And of course you have to take a ride up the incline! An no Primanti’s? That’s a must!

    Seriously, this made me so happy. Grace, how do we submit interest in doing a guide for where we live? I’d love to do one for where I live now!

    Seriously I’m SO excited!

  • This post made me so nostalgic. I went to Pitt & my husband went to Carnegie Mellon. We met in the basement of an off-campus fraternity and fell in love in this great city. We haven’t lived there for over 8 years but I’m so excited to see places like Pamela’s and Spice Island Tea House make the list as I still remember them fondly and tell people about those famous pancakes. But my absolute favorite is Church Brew Works, hands down. Can’t wait to go back some day to visit old friends, old stomping grounds and find new stomping grounds.

  • Got to disagree with Sarah about Primantis. Soggy fries? They deep fry them fresh for every sandwich! The bread is baked fresh daily by Breadworks (another Pittsburgh great) and the ingredients are all fresh. I lived in Pittsburgh for 24 years and miss Primantis dearly. A few others that were left off the list: The Original Hot Dog Shop (The Dirty O) – any Pitt grad can tell you a story about this place, and Fatheads in the Southside – great tap selection (over 45 beers) and AMAZING sandwiches, Pittsburgh overeating at its finest. MISS YOU PITTSBURGH!

  • SO glad to see a Pittsburgh guide on DS and such a wonderful one at that! I also recommend visiting Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in the Strip District. Their cheese counter is a highlight for me. The staff are really helpful and friendly (especially the lady who calls everyone ‘dearheart’) and they have a really solid selection- just be prepared for a wait, especially on the weekend.

  • Yes! Things that you should absolutely do/see: Mattress Factory, Society for Contemporary Craft, The Attic (amazing record store in Millvale), and Construction Junction (constructionjunction.org)

    I love the city, so happy to live here!

  • I’m also from the area, and this post made me so nostalgic for the ‘Burgh. There are many places on here I’ve never heard of since I’ve lived away for about 8 years, so thanks for the awesome suggestions for the next time I’m in town.

    Another great Pittsburgh fine is Klavon’s in the Strip District. The interior is original Art Deco from the 1920’s, and so is the menu: You can get a “phosphate” soda, an “egg cream”, a real birch beer. It’s still family-run. What a fabulous place!

    Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor
    2801 Penn Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4780

  • Pittsburgh has been my home for the past 9 years, and I have fallen in love with the city. I never want to move away again (I’m currently in NY for school).
    This is a good guide. But as many have said, there are many Pittsburgh icons missing. I heartily second many of the suggestions, like Primanti’s (which makes really good sandwiches, I’m sorry for the person with the bad sandwich experience, but they really are good), Klavon’s, PennMac, The entire Strip District in general, the inclines, Mt. Washington…
    I’d like to add my two cents with Lulu’s Noodles ( a favorite among my friends), Presto George’s for coffee, and KENNYWOOD (I don’t know how we could miss this one, folks).
    I would like to correct whoever mentioned Rita’s. While Rita’s is a great italian ice place, it’s not from Pittsburgh. It’s a national chain that originated in Bensalem, PA.

  • I’m not sure how you all can love Pittsburgh so much (the conservative attitudes are a turn-off), but I’m excited to have some interesting places to check out during my mandatory twice per year family visits. I do agree that the Zenith is amazing! But don’t forget Ali Baba in Oakland. It’s the best Middle Eastern food I’ve had anywhere.

    When I was growing up there I loved all of the vintage clothing shops, and it’s great to see that some more have sprung up. And prices for everything are always such a steal compared to elsewhere.

  • i’ve spent my whole life in tha burgh (minus 4 years in ohio for college and 1 year in san francisco for post college fun-times) and i think this is a great list but i CANNOT BELIEVE you forgot the mattress factory!!!!!! the mattress factory art museum is possibly the best museum i’ve ever been to. if you find yourself in pittsburgh, you have to go. other pittsburgh must visits: tram’s kitchen, spak bros, la gourmandine, thai place, lulu’s, people’s, kiva han, mineos, aiellos, little’s shoes, the factory…and many more!

  • Agree with the last comment about the Mattress Factory. This is probably one of the most refreshing museums for contemporary art that I have ever been to (Second only to PS1 in queens NY) and houses permanent installations from James Turrel among others. I would also highly recommend the Thai restaurant “Thai Me Up” in the Southside and FYI it is BYOB! Bar 11 is a crazy party of a bar that is fun for those nights out in the Southside.

  • Can anyone suggest a planned route or itinerary for a day? I am having a girls weekend in Pittsburgh and would love to know how to weave our way through the city to see the most of what was mentioned. Any recommendations on where to stay would also be helpful. Thanks a bunch!