New Girl: The Hip Guide to Pittsburgh
The Andy Warhol museum, a one-of-a-kind museum and a true destination in Pittsburgh, attracts many visitors that might otherwise not make it here. What else do these obviously tuned-in art lovers do while they're in town? For that matter, how do scenesters already living in Pittsburgh spend their days and nights? New Girl had to find out...
D.J. and party promoter J. Malls (aka Jason Molyneaux) says there's plenty to keep hipsters busy after dark. The Pittsburgh native and vinyl aficionado spins jazz Monday nights at the AVA Lounge in E. Liberty and also enjoys live jazz at Tana close by on Wednesday nights. Add to that trumpeter Sean Jones' gig at Little E's downtown on Tuesdays and the local jazz scene is starting to get heady. When it's time to kick back, J's favorite hangs include the Tiki Lounge and Lava Lounge on the South Side (both bars play with their themes to maximum effect and attract a cool clientele) and a slew of Lawrenceville music venues including New Amsterdam, brillobox, Remedy and Belvedere's, the latter the home of the monthly Down & Derby roller disco party started by local boy Vince Masi four years ago and now playing as far away as Las Vegas and L.A. Down the street, Round Corner Cantina has caught the eye of party people all over town and is the new go-to spot for cocktails and a late-night bite. Look for the Cantina's expansive outdoor patio to reopen come springtime.
Andrew Twigg, co-owner of Dozen Bakeshop along with partner James Gray, feels right at home in self-styled LoLa (Lower Lawrenceville) and the Chicago transplant also enjoys the Cantina on off nights. He appreciates the modernist approach to food at Dinette and Legume and lives for the french fries at Square Cafe and the curry mussels at Point Brugge. His favorite food fetish, however, may be the "locavore" at Franktuary, a downtown hot dog emporium where the local organic dog with chopped onions and Miller's Mustard (another local confection) is a loco treat.
Franktuary's co-owner, Megan Lindsay, hopes to have a food truck serving grass-fed meats and veggie treats plying streets come springtime and I'm starting to see a pattern here – is winter over yet? When it's time to shop, Twigg favors hipster enclaves Shop 412 (men's streetwear to hi-end contemporary), decade (fashion-forward with an edge, says owner Steve Ford, and the women's denim is worthy) and tweek, a tee boutique where sk8erboi Jamal Krolowitz silkscreens his designs onsite (and where a New Girl would happily shop).
Feeding his artistic muse, Twigg makes a point of making the local gallery crawls, whether it's "Unblurred," the monthly crawl along the Penn Avenue Arts District or the occasional Friday Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and featuring galleries like Future Tenant, where arts management students from CMU run the show as a real-world lab.
At lifestyle store Hot Haute Hot, co-owner Keneva Fecko finds that fashion web site/home-grown venture modcloth informs her reduce/re-use sensibility as does Avalon Exchange, where one woman's trash is another's treasure. HHH associate Emily Boul's world view is similar to Keneva's and often takes her to places like Zerrer's, a Strip District antique store where DIY folk find plenty of inspiration. Her hip meter starts to zip at places like the Phipps Conservatory and approaches TILT on weekend forays to New York City for relaxation and inspiration. What design maven wouldn't want to be close by the Big Apple's seductive eye?
As for me, I see hip and happening in all corners of Pittsburgh. On the eat scene, anything Kevin Sousa rocks my world and his revolutionary tacos at Yo Rita are def all that, which bodes well for Sousa's restaurant-in-the-works, Salt of the Earth. I'm with Andrew Twigg on the Cantina and Point Brugge and can't wait for his Dozen Dinners, intimate four-course affairs at the Lawrenceville location starting early March.
The Silver Eye Center for Photography on the South Side has to be one of the coolest hangs in town and an hour of photo-gazing here is better than any yoga class for me. I love to browse (and shop) at Fresh Heirlooms, Equita and E-House, paragons of virtue when it comes to eco-sensibility and recycling with an eye to beauty. Biking along the region's many paths is always a breath of fresh air and if I really need to get my game on, I make it down to the Pete for a Pitt Panthers basketball game, where the kids on the floor and the kids in the stands keep it fresh and make me wonder if LeBron and the NBA would ever make their magic in Pittsburgh (and no, I'm not being cavalier).
The last word on what's hip in Pittsburgh should go to Tom Sokolowski, the director of the Warhol and a gentleman whose keen eye keeps the museum oh so relevant. In his world, a hipster's next stop (after the Warhol) should be Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural marvel in the Laurel Highlands. Sokolowski would stick with the architectural theme and explore the Richardson Romanesque buildings in town, among them the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail and Emmanuel Episcopal on the North Side, the latter one groovy building that was way ahead of its time. Arts-wise, he likes the work and the vibe at the Miller Gallery at CMU and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and loves any opening night party at the Priory Hotel, a North Side icon that will soon debut a cozy wine bar for more intimate gatherings (and a great place for those Warhol visitors to stay).
What Sokolowski is too modest to mention is any opening night at the Warhol, guaranteed to be a collection of good art and great conversation among the hippest, most interesting people around. Membership has its advantages, folks, since members are always invited to opening-night events.
To receive Pop City free weekly, click here. To check out the six hippest events in town this week and every week, visit Pop Filter.
New Girl In Town Elaine Labalme is an old soul who's hip at heart and keeps her feet firmly planted on the ground, ideally in boots from Pavement.
Captions: Jamal Krolowitz; Megan Lindsay; Modcloth; Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens; Silver Eye Center for Photography; event at the Warhol Museum.
Photographs copyright Brian Cohen