My Ideal Pittsburgh Weekend
To kick off a new series we're dubbing "My Ideal Pittsburgh Weekend" we devoted part of a Pop City staff meeting to come up with ours.
Of course we could agree on nothing.
So we decided to write a group version of where we would go on our weekend. And in this case, it's a late summer in Pittsburgh weekend so we are often outdoors. In some rare cases we're all in the same place at the same time—but not for long. Follow along with us on this happy weekend and then look for more Ideal Pittsburgh weekends, written by various ideal Pittsburghers, in the months to come. Friday
5:00 What better place to be than the garden rooftop of Six Penn Kitchen
downtown on a summery eve for Friday night happy hour? With its ribbon of white lights overhead and tall potted plants, it's a festive and charming spot in fair weather. Known for their American cooking and creative use of local and farm fresh food, Six Penn changes the menu often but you'll always find faves like the mac and cheese and rotisserie chicken. The pizza makes a great appetizer with our cold beers and summery drinks. Great way to kick off the weekend.
6:30 We debated on the dinner choice. Abay
in East Liberty, said Deb and Jennifer while John expressed a preference for Tana
and Tracy craved the mango salad at Silk Elephan
t. In the end, we could all agree on dinner at Thai Gourmet in Bloomfield. This unassuming BYOB features kitschy Asian items as décor but the place is authentic, run by a pleasant Thai family, and the food? Thai die for. Try the spicy mixed vegetable and pineapple dish with shrimp or the Tofu Emerald Noodle.
8:00 Naturally we checked out Pop Filte
r for must-see arts and cultural events this week to find an interesting documentary playing at the Harris Theater
downtown. We love this theater, run by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, for the old-time charm and glowing marquee, the independent films and the great selection of refreshments such as good coffee and chocolate.
10:30: We are lured to Razzy Fresh
in Squirrel Hill where Brian Cohen earlier took his kids. Here we either sample the healthy tart yogurt or more indulgently, we help ourselves to generous servings of Triple chocolate at one dispenser and Red Velvet Cake at another. Toppings next, ranging from crushed cookies to fresh fruit, and then we place it all on the scale and pay up at 45 cents an ounce. It's the only scale we want to see at this point.
John Farley, our dev news editor and the youngest on staff, has skipped the sweet treat for a drink on the patio of Remedy
while Pop Filter editor Jennifer heads to The Shop to catch an underground band. Saturday
10:00 On a bright and airy corner of Potomac Avenue in Dormont you'll find us at the Dor-Stop
, a cheery place revered by natives and run by the same owners for more than 25 years. Don't mind the long lines down the lamp and tree-lined main street. The owners pass out coffee while you wait. Here you'll find some of the best pancakes in town, swears Pop Filter editor Jennifer, and who are we to argue? Some of us love their French toast. Either way, pass that syrup and vow next time to try their renowned German potato salad. Everyone looks so happy here!
12:00: Rent a kayak from Kayak Pittsburgh
under the Sixth St. bridge near PNC Park and catch a dreamy perspective of the Pittsburgh skyline that is impossible to get on land. Here in the comeback waters of the Allegheny, downtown seems to appear on a stage and the golden sister bridges crossing overhead dazzle with their symmetry. With each dip of the paddle as you wend your way up river--past the shimmering David L Lawrence convention center--your appreciation of this city will deepen. Seriously. You'll say it to yourself more than once on this excursion: This city rocks.
3:00 At Washington's Landing, an ex-brownfield now featuring townhouses, offices and Three Rivers Rowing facilities, we take a detour and exit at Redfin Blues
on the spacious wooden deck and luxuriate in the marina atmosphere. This is Pittsburgh? Drink it in along with your cold one. Jennifer cuts out early to go record shopping at Jerry's in Squirrel Hill then pick up some new sandals at Pavement
in Lawrenceville. John heads to Attic Record Store in Millvale to browse their massive collection of VHS tapes. Deb orders another cold one.
7:00 Saturday night: Take in one of the best restaurants in town for a splurge: Eleven
in the Strip where you can start the evening with mignonette oysters with Eleven hot sauce paired with martinis at the bar. The garage style doors are open wide to the street and the music is just right. For dinner the halibut is as good as it gets and the Seafood Tasting is superb. Order a great bottle of wine from their impressive cellar (which is actually upstairs in a room of enclosed glass and if you're really nice to the waiter you might get a tour.) You can't go wrong here. This is a Big Burrito group restaurant which means that on a scale of one to ten, of course it's an Eleven.
10:00 We're off to another of the many funky arts and culture events in town, which could be a printing party at Artists Image Resources or an art event at a restored Catholic school in Braddock. Check Pop Filter for your guide.Sunday:
11 am: Here's where we part ways. Brian and his family are at the Bach Beethoven and Brunch
in Mellon Park with a blanket and excellent picnic meal and, we're sure, his camera. Jennifer is at the secret taco stand in Bloomfield and hey, if she told us, it wouldn't be secret! But it is something to look for. Trace hits the riverfront trails for a bike ride, starting on the Sixth St. bridge to the North Side, past the stadiums for another captivating view of downtown, then past the casino and north for a different perspective on a trail many don't know about. You'll see funky and charming marinas and river houses as well as Alcosan and a prison. Who could ask for more?
Deb, apparently. Our innovation news editor is at Schenley Park to play Frisbee golf then off to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium
to bond with the polar bears. John Farley goes along for the sea life.
1:00 Tracy is now at Schenley Plaza, the fairly new and thoroughly wonderful park across from the Cathedral of Learning on Forbes, banging out this article. Free wi-fi with your bubble tea. If you have to work, here's the place to do it. Meanwhile, a satiated Jennifer thinks those are rain clouds on the horizon so she heads to St. Nicholas Church in Millvale for a tour of the exquisite Maxo Vanka murals, a purely Pittsburgh tradition.
3:00 For a caffeine jolt, nothing beats 21st St. Coffee in the Strip
and we squeak in just as it's closing. Haven't we had enough of this place? Guess not. This is where we hold most of our staff meetings. But it's among the best coffee in town and right up the street is the much-loved La Prima Espresso Co
. To avoid the crowds, we frequent the strip during the week (we love lunch at Penn Ave. Fish Company
or Cafe on the Strip or one of the many great food stands).
6:00 As we wind down, John races to the Brillo Box
for the $5 vegetarian dinner while Jennifer heads to D's SixPax & Dogz
in Regent Square for their phenomenal selection of imports, craft and micro brews in the beer cave. Not to mention the mouthwatering Chicago veggie dogs. Deb and Trace head to Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon on the terrace for real Napoli-style margarita pizza and a glass of Montepulciano under the trees and next to the gurgling fountain. This is Pittsburgh? All that and more.
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to receive Pop City every week.Tracy Certo
is publisher and editor of Pop City;Jennifer Baron is Pop Filter editor; Deb Smit is innovation and job news editor; John Farley is development news editor; Brian Cohen is photographer.
Photographs: Thai Gourmet; Razzy Fresh; Kayaking on the Allegheny; behind the scenes at Bach, Beethoven and Brunch; polar bear and shark at the zoo; Maxo Vanka murals at St. Nicholas.Photographs copyright Brian Cohen