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The Visiting Guide to Shadyside

Shadyside, one of the area’s hippest, most vibrant neighborhoods is known as a premier shopping and dining destination. With a healthy selection of one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars clustered along the Walnut Street area and, further aloft, the Ellsworth Avenue corridor, the neighborhood offers everything from international cuisine to the Apple Store in a handful of walkable and charming city blocks.

Surrounding the shopping areas are many handsome and historic houses. Check out Howe St, famous for its chock-a-block Victorians with welcoming front porches.

The Shopping Scene

While the chains have made inroads on Walnut Street, Shadyside’s shopping districts offer far more than J. Crew, Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret. The independent stores, such as Feathers for fine bedding, are the neighborhood’s true gems and should not be missed.

As any avid reader of Pittsburgh’s society columns could tell you, women in need of fabulous evening wear often head to Shadyside first. Both e.b. Pepper and Choices carry top designer labels, like Versace and Prada, and their customers are frequently honored with “best-dressed” honors by local publications.

Men aren’t left out of the designer clothing fun either, with the high-end boutique Moda to tend to their needs. Even for budgets that are more Korbel than Veuve Cliquot, these establishments are fun to visit, if only to browse.

Are you more custom creation than off-the-rack? Try Little Black Dress on Ellsworth, where owner Diana Misetic will design something from scratch for you if nothing in her store catches your eye. Next door, Imam B. offers a similar service. While you’re over that way, the vintage clothing finds at Hey Betty and its neighbor Eons offering distinctive clothing in a fun atmosphere. 

Shoes and accessories are popular choices in Shadyside as well. With the trendiest styles in footwear and the lines of popular designers displayed in its window, Ten Toes is every shoe shopper’s dream and a tough store to resist.

Perhaps even more than its clothing collection, Hip*tique is known for its jewelry and purses that can fit into any budget. B&B Studio offers aspiring purse designers a do-it-yourself opportunity, and, according to its Web site, is the only business of its kind in the area. Or try Wax.Jewelry Design Studio on Ellsworth for one of a kind items.

It’s easy to furnish the house with unique items found in Shadyside as well. At Tournesol, owner Barbara Reilly brings back goods from her globetrotting adventures, connecting craftsmen from far-flung lands like Senegal and China with shoppers in Pittsburgh. Talk about a global economy. In need of stylish furniture? Head straight to S. Highland for WeissHouse, for its impressive and cool selection of rugs and floor coverings along with modern furniture. Across the street is Arhaus, a popular stop for furniture shoppers.

For housewares that are less exotic, but kitschy enough to conjure memories of grandma’s house, try Lila’s, where you can pick up retro toasters, placemats and napkin rings (along with designer Julia DiNardo’s hot Pittsburgh neighborhood t-shirts).

Reward the kids for their good behavior with a trinket from the Shadyside Variety Store, with toys that are more offbeat than traditional toy store selections in an old-fashioned setting.

Grownups can find their own fun fare at Kards Unlimited, which as its name suggests, has a stock of goods that goes well beyond cards. Irreverent t-shirts, Benjamin Franklin action figures, and a surprisingly high-quality book selection are some of the highlights of what is arguably Pittsburgh’s best card store.

For enlightenment and inspiration head to Journeys of Life for everything from books on relaxation to chimes and candles. Check out their classes and workshops and newsletter.

The Art Scene
The neighborhood is well known for its extensive collection of galleries, which are the bridge between today’s Shadyside and its bohemian roots. Mendelson, Gallerie Chiz and Bella Arte are just a few, along with Morgan Contemporary Glass. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is nearby as well, at the corner of Shady and Fifth Avenues, and it offers classes, in addition to regular exhibits, for those who are inspired to create some of their own works.

In addition to its permanent galleries, Shadyside has two arts festivals of note. A Fair in the Park is held in Mellon Park, typically on the first or second weekend of September, The Shadyside Arts Festival, which has traditionally been held in August but moved to September this past year, also attracts many visitors to the neighborhood. Other events of note include the Walnut Street Jams series of outdoor concerts that benefit cystic fibrosis research, and the annual Shadyside House Tour. This year marks the 29th anniversary of the tour, which will be held on Oct. 14.

Shadyside is also an excellent spot for satisfying one’s sweet tooth, with Eureka Chocolates and Gifts and The Chocolate Moose within a block of each other. Perhaps by sampling a chocolate from one store, then walking to the other to repeat, potential diet damage can be mitigated.

All that shopping is likely to cause visitors to work up a big appetite. Fortunately, Shadyside features dining options for nearly every taste and mood.

Start the day in Shadyside off to a good start at one of the best breakfast spots in the city - Pamela’s. It’s always a struggle to decide between one of the delightful pancake offerings or a plate that includes the unique home fries, both sure to please. If you’re planning to stop in on a weekend, though, get there early. The line builds up quickly, spilling onto Walnut Street.

The diversity of Shadyside’s population is certainly reflected in its restaurants, which offer cuisine ranging from Italian to Peruvian to Thai, with virtually everything in between. Furthermore, with atmospheres ranging from upscale to casual, the neighborhood features dining options for any occasion.

Tucked above Pamela’s, La Feria is easy to miss from street level, but don’t. Billed as a “Peruvian restaurant and craft gallery,” La Feria serves dishes that change daily and that you just can’t get anywhere else in the city. Plus, you can pick up a gift for a niece’s birthday party or some jewelry for yourself on the way out. It’s a taste of Peru in Pittsburgh.

In a city that has a relative dearth of authentic Mexican cuisine, Shadyside is fortunate to have   Fajita Grill for satisfying a salsa craving. Thai fans can go fancy at Typhoon on S. Highland or choose the more low key environs at Thai Place on Walnut. Pittsburgh’s sushi aficionados consistently rank Umi as one of their favorite spots, while its sister restaurant Soba features a fine selection of Asian fusion fare. The menu at Casbah, owned by the same restaurant group as Umi and Soba, is filled with outstanding Mediterranean-inspired selections.

is a top-notch Italian restaurant, while quality contemporary American is available at the Elbow Room and Walnut Grill for those who don’t care to stray as far on their culinary tour.  Another notable Italian spot is Enrico. Those with smaller appetites may want to check out the tapas – and sangria! – at La Casa. For more casual dining, try the sandwiches, salads and pizza at Bites and Brews, which also boasts 30 beers on tap, or the outstanding wings at Buffalo Blues, which will re-open in a renovated venue in the near future.

For coffee, it’s hard to beat Coffee Tree Roasters with its garage style doors that open wide to the street and a smart, contemporary interior that boasts the splashy color of the Burton Morris painting near the entrance. It’s a great place to hang with free Wi-Fi of course. Further up on Walnut is Jitters, another independent coffee shop offering an option to the two Starbucks in the area. On Ellsworth, Crazy Mocha consistently draws a crowd.

If you’ve filled up with a good, hearty meal and are ready to get your drink on, you won’t have to go far. Shadyside is the choice of many a Pittsburgh barhopper, and the people-watching never disappoints, especially in the summer when patrons can enjoy what is seemingly Pittsburgh’s largest concentration of patio drinking (and dining).

Shadyside’s bar scene offers options for every taste and mood. From the sleek and trendy (and newly opened) Alto Lounge to the down-to-earth and cozy Doc’s and William Penn Tavern to places that fall somewhere in between, like Shady Grove and the Harris Grill.

One of Shadyside’s – and the city’s – best-kept secrets is the happy hour at Sunnyledge Boutique Hotel and Tea Room, featuring the restaurant’s outstanding martinis, which have a unique ingredient: dry ice. When’s the last time you had a drink that looked like witches’ brew? (You can spend the night in this gorgeous building and take an easy walk to the Walnut St. shopping district the next morning.)

Also of note is one of the best gay bars in the city, 5801, or Infinity, as it is more commonly known.

Whether it’s for shopping, dining, drinking or entertainment, it’s likely that Shadyside has the perfect spot for what you need. This vast selection of retail and restaurants makes the charming neighborhood worthy of exploration and many return visits.

Don't miss the Business and Investing Guide to Shadyside and the Moving Guide to Shadyside.


Shadyside Market on Walnut Street

Oh Yeah! Ice Cream on South Highland

Victorian with Front Porch

Ten Toes on Walnut Street

Weisshouse on South Highland

2007 Shadyside Arts Festival

Helma Groot at Gallerie Chiz

Elbow Room on Ellsworth Avenue

Gargoyle at Mendelson Art Gallery

Outdoor Cocktails on Ellsworth

All photographs copyright © Brian Cohen

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