The Socialista’s Guide to Pittsburgh

One of the great benefits of my job is to know the ins and outs of my fair city and connect people with the best venues, happenings and hotspots in town. Pittsburgh is a city with deep history and roots, but is widely becoming known as a mecca for foodies, fashonistas and outdoor & sports enthusiasts. Whether visiting for the first time, or experiencing the city as a resident through the eyes of Pride, here are my picks to take full advantage of your experience in the City of Bridges!

Foodie Fabulosity

This town is full of amazing food and drink, that doesn’t always involve French fries and coleslaw on an enormous, alebit delicious, sandwich. If you want a real taste of the town, I suggest you start a day off at Pamela’s P&G Diner (pamelasdiner.com) in the Strip or Shadyside. Pamela’s is famous for it’s pancakes- President Obama has even had them flown to the White House to get his fix. As for me, I am a salty lady so I always go with the equally amazing corned beef hash. To walk off Pamela’s, head to Penn Avenue in the Strip to peruse all of the amazing ethnic grocers, including “Penn Mac”- the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company (pennmac.com). Their cheese counter is famous in the city, but don’t mess around with the ladies behind the counter. They run a tight ship so peruse and decide before you take a number and get serious. Next, head on over to Marty’s Market (martysmarket.com) for five star fare that won’t destroy your budget. Marty’s Market is a gem that is part gathering place, part gourmet café, part grocer and 100% amazing. Cool off with one of their hand crafted iced teas and try to sample as much as you can on the menu- everything I have had there rivals some of the top restaurants in town in a casual friendly café setting. Your next stop should be Wigle Whiskey– Pittsburgh’s first whiskey distillery since prohibition. This cool modern space sets the stage for tasting some seriously amazing whiskeys. Wigle is open for tasting Tuesday thru Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. and conducts tours on Saturdays. The tours tend to book up in advance; so reserve tickets here: wiglewhiskey.com/

While we are clinking glasses, let’s move on to my favorite urban winery Engine House 25 (enginehouse25.com) in Lawrenceville. Duane Rieder has been producing wine for twenty years and owns the historic Engine House where the Roberto Clemente Museum is also housed. This is some of the best wine I have had anywhere, and the tasting room is a hidden treasure in the city. Be sure to schedule a tour and tasting in advance. Now that you are good and buzzed, it’s time to eat again! Head up to Oakland to The Butterjoint (thebutterjoint.com), the full service bar of it’s Mama, Legume (legumebistro.com). The Butterjoint has tasty craft cocktails and their pierogies and homemade sausage are a “must” in the town known for its hearty hunky cuisine.

Off to dinner and I’ll just give you my two favorites because it’s impossible to choose between them, so I will let you decide! Salt of the Earth (saltpgh.com), Chef Kevin Sousa’s flagship restaurant, is too divine for words. I eat there one to two times a week simply because there is no place better. Period. And to sweeten that recommendation, the kitchen is open until midnight and their “bar snacks”, which are gourmet meals in themselves are served until 1am. My other pick is Root 174 (root174.com) in Regent Square, the restaurant of the supremely talented Keith Fuller. Root 174 has a rootsy neighborhood feel in an intimate setting with incredible food and inventive cocktails. I had the best cocktail of my entire life there- an Heirloom Tomato cocktail made with local Boyd & Blair Vodka (boydandblair.com)- I really really really hope they bring it
back this summer. Like seriously, Keith.

Style Profile

Let’s just start from the top, here. Pride festivities always require the chicest, fiercest sunglasses you can find and there is no better place in Pittsburgh that Eyetique (eyetique.com). The owner, Norman Childs, also has his own lines designed for customers and they are my personal favorite. Home-grown celebs like DJ Bonics and Mac Miller have been known to sport these specs too.

Norman’s vintage collection is incredible and my personal favorite. Eyetique also carries other wonderful designers, including the ever popular Oliver Peoples. Lisa Vanderpump, eat your heart out!

Next, head over to Eons (facebook.com/ pages/Eons-Fashion-Antique) in Shadyside to see Richard Parsakian, if you are lucky enough to catch him. My jewelry collection is the envy of many- and it’s all thanks to Richard’s one-of-a-kind vintage finds. Eons also has amazing men’s and women’s clothing, accessories and shoes. Many a visiting A-Lister has found their way to Eons to find unique wardrobe treasures. Do me a favor and stay away from the broaches though, I have a thing for them right now and don’t need the competition.

My favorite shopping district is not the traditional Shadyside excursion, though Walnut Street is ah-may-zing on a beautiful day. I encourage you all to visit the shops on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. There are so many unique shops there with new offerings popping up every day, but you don’t have all day to read this! My recommendations are to start at Pageboy Salon and
Boutique (pageboypgh.com) for more incredible vintage finds for men and women and also carries jewelry from local artists. I bought a maroon fitted leather jacket with a huge seventies collar for $30 there. Best.Purchase.Ever.

Moving along, pop in to Pavement (pavementpittsburgh.com), and if you see their Bridgette Bardot look-a-like owner Alissa, say hello! Pavement carries gorgeous clothing, shoes and jewelry that you really will not find anywhere else in Pittsburgh. Next, take a short walk to Jeffrey Smith Studio (jeffreysmithstudio.com). Jeffrey owns the salon, but has also begun making one-of-a kind luxury jewelry. It’s truly the most amazing jewelry and no two pieces are alike. Whenever I wear anything of Jeffrey’s, people practically salivate over them! Once you pick up your bauble from Jeffrey Smith, make your way down to Wildcard (wildcardpgh.com). This eclectic shop has local art, jewelry, stationary, t-shirts and more with a focus on local crafters and artists. If you are looking for a gift to take home or a souvenir from Pittsburgh, you will find it here, I promise you!

Now that you have properly contributed to our local consumer economy (thank you!) you deserve a BIG FASHIONABLE DRINK. Stop by Tender Bar + Kitchen, a Prohibition-era inspired that just opened in March. Tender’s atmosphere is sleek and sexy, having been renovated from a 19th century bank building. Cheers to shopping!

Sporty Sightseeing

There is something for everyone here: the history buff, the outdoor enthusiast and the sports junky!

Start downtown and rent a bicycle from Golden Triangle Bike Rental (bikepittsburgh.com), which also serves as a welcome center for cyclists, near PNC First Side & the Jail. Here, you can pick up maps and information and plan your tour of the City. I recommend you cruise over to the City’s vibrant Southside and visit the South Side Welcome Center (southsidechamber.org), just a few blocks from the 9th Street trail head at 1100 East Carson Street. This is an official tourist information center with information from Trail Town Southside (facebook.com/TrailTownSouthSide), an organization that helps cyclists know where to go, what to see and a guide to bike-friendly businesses. If you are a serious bike enthusiast, thousands of cyclists will be in town for the Great Allegheny Passage official opening party on June 15.

More of a sports nut? Check out the Roberto Clemente Museum (clementemuseum.com), located in Lawrenceville (also the home of Engine House 25 Wines mentioned in my Foodie tour!). Major national sports media lists have named the Clemente Museum the best hidden gem in Pittsburgh. Peruse memorabilia, letters, uniforms, photography and more- oh yes, and get a glass of wine while you’re there, too. Schedule your tours in advance to ensure the museum is open when you want to visit!

Want a little history? Visiting the Carrie Blast Furnace is a uniquely Pittsburgh adventure. This old iron furnace, once run by Andrew Carnegie, is currently being restored and is open to the public for tours, courtesy of Rivers of Steel (riversofsteel.com). The impressive 92 foot structures have set the stage for recent music video shoots like “Work Hard Play Hard” by Wiz Khalifah, big budget Hollywood film shoots, fashion photo shoots and more. I love this site so much, and not just for the photo opps. It’s a reminder of where I come from and how hard work and struggles of men and women past that will never be forgotten. Tours during Pride take place 10 AM Friday June 14, 2013 and Saturday June 15, 2013. Be sure to book in advance via the Rivers of Steel website.

Water lovers- this city is for you! Hit the rivers in a rented Kayak! This is an amazing way to see the city plus you can paddle around “The Point” and take in all of the festivities from Pride and the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Kayak Pittsburgh (kayakpittsburgh.org) on the North Shore allows you to rent kayaks for the day and explore our Three Rivers. Do not forget your sunscreen that you should have picked up somewhere along the way during your Style Profile!

Now that you are sweaty and exhausted, clean yourself up and head to Perle in Market Square to toast your time in Pittsburgh with a glass of bubbly or head to the Strip District and dance the night away at Cruze Bar. Whatever your flavor or fancy, Pittsburgh has you covered.

Eileen French is a founding partner of Revive Marketing Group. Eileen resides in North Point Breeze with acclaimed actor/producer Patrick Jordan of barebones productions and her energetic Border Collie, Cosmo. She is an avid East Ender, animal lover, fashion addict, and passionate supporter of the LGBT community.