Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. MSN named it one of 10 Up and Coming Downtowns in the U.S. and the numbers prove it. More people are choosing to live there—the population in the Golden Triangle is 4,405—and more than 500 residential units are under construction, on top of all the new ones already built and purchased.

Downtown’s residential population balloons to about 85,000 during work days, an increase of 70% since 2000.

The growing population, coupled with the fact that 40% of all jobs in the city are located in the Greater Downtown area, means that almost half of the city’s residents spend much of their lives there.

The good news? Downtown’s healthy amenities are growing, too. It’s not just pizzas and hoagies for lunch anymore. It’s amped-up salads and beautifully-made fresh and local food. And there’s an upscale grocery set to open this year.

Outdoor spaces have also undergone a major shift, giving everyone a chance to get out of their offices and breathe a little more deeply. With our impressive rivers and trails, downtown is now a green and healthy place to live and work.

Here are the top spots for keeping fit in our Healthy Guide to Downtown.


Bluebird Kitchen defines what takeout should be: fast and healthy and delicious. A seasonal menu that includes hot entrees and soups, fresh salads and sandwiches and handmade desserts plus their house-made potato chips, Bluebird Kitchen is your go-to for that quick lunch. And ditch those Sausage McMuffins because they offer great options for breakfast too. With two locations, one right off of Market Square and one on Stanwix St. in the First Niagara building, Bluebird Kitchen pledges ‘quality of ingredients’ and offers healthy options for discerning people on the go.

Photo by Brian Cohen

Photo by Brian Cohen

Inside the Fairmont Hotel, Habitat is a modern, quiet and inviting space offering locally-sourced food. Aside from their stellar seasonal menu they also cater to a wide array of dietary preferences, with great vegan, vegetarian, raw, macrobiotic, and gluten-free options. Here’s what you’ll find on the menu: olive-braised tomatoes, whole grain veggie burgers with herb aioli and tomato jam, sweet potato cake with flaxseed ice cream and vegan salted caramel peanut butter ice cream. They are just a few of the mouthwatering items that redefine healthy at Habitat. It’s a gem.

At Bluebird Kitchen. Photo by Brian Cohen.

At Bluebird Kitchen. Photo by Brian Cohen.

Right next to Vallozzi’s on Fifth Avenue is Toss’t, a build-your-own salad spot with a wide variety of ingredients to choose from. It’s the end of those wan-looking generic spring mix salads or worse, iceberg lettuce with fake ranch dressing. Toss’t gives us options that include baby kale, arugula, pea shoots, daikon, sesame broccoli, cage-free eggs and many more ingredients that are local, organic and hormone-free. They work with dozens of local farms all over Pennsylvania and Ohio and are committed to sustainability. This is our kind of salad.

At Verde Good Beans. Photo by Brian Cohen

At Verde Good Beans. Photo by Brian Cohen

Perhaps downtown’s best kept secret is Verde Good Beans. Tucked away on First Avenue, this mother-daughter-run coffee shop has a commitment to fresh ingredients and sustainable environmental practices. Homemade soups, sandwiches and salads are made from local ingredients with generous servings. Great coffee is from La Prima and you can cap your meal with locally-made gelato from Mulberry Street Creamery. It’s worth the trip to this out of the way spot.

Fresh & Local Produce

The Farmers Market on Market Square is one of the most awaited openings of the season. Around 30 weekly vendors and lunchtime concerts can be enjoyed in the welcoming square from May 15th until October 30th. From fresh-baked breads and fresh produce to naturally dry-aged beef, organic raw milk and cheese, you can do most of your weekly grocery shopping right in the market. Don’t miss the beeswax candles and honey. It’s the best thing about Thursdays downtown.

CSA Deliveries (that’s community-supported agriculture) are available with drop-off locations from many farms including Clarion River Organics and Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance. Eat Well Pgh also delivers fresh farm boxes and Breakroom Fruit Boxes right to your workplace.


Sitting all day in your office doesn’t mean you have to miss your workout. Downtown makes it easier to get moving—for early-birds who want to get it done before work, lunchtime yogis and after work weightlifters.

Gold’s Gym is a traditional gym located off Market Square. The YMCA has two locations that you can choose from with traditional gym amenities and classes. With a pool, indoor track, basketball, racquetball and a full service gym and spa, and group classes, the high-end Rivers Club is an excellent choice for those who want variety in their fitness options. Want to rub elbows with celebrities while you work out? The Health Club at the Fairmont is the place to be. With one of the best equipment and spa services to boot, it’s a welcome oasis at lunch or a great way to end your day.