Pittsburgh was once a city peppered with public markets. The first to open was The Allegheny Market House on the North Side in 1863, and the last to close was a popular meat and food market in Market Square in 1994. In 2003, Neighbors in the Strip resurrected the public market experience with The Pittsburgh Public Market. Originally housed in the produce terminal, the market has now taken up residence at 2401 Penn Avenue. Today The Pittsburgh Public Market serves as a one-stop shop that supports community growth and local business under one roof, exactly what a public market is meant to do.
Whether you are in search of outstanding craft beer or a wheel of cheese you can’t get elsewhere, we’ve got 5 solid reasons to visit The Pittsburgh Public Market.
You are thirsty…
From coffee to kombucha, The Pittsburgh Public Market offers a smorgasbord of beverages. On warm weekend days, East End Brewery is a magnet as people crowd the makeshift bar to fill a growler full of seasonal beer or sample what’s on tap that day. It’s always good.
Just to the right of the beer crowd, you’ll find Glade Pikes Winery.
From open to close, Caffe d’Amore Catering, which sells whole and ground beans from companies that support sustainable coffee, serves fresh cups of joe. If you want your coffee to go but will be returning soon, the staff will loan you a mason jar for the road.
The market’s two latest additions are into batch varieties. At Root Juice System Juice Company you can choose from green, citrus, root or fruit organic, cold-pressed juice—and sign up for a juice subscription. Or you can pony up to the Buch Bar to try out Red Star Kombucha’s line of macrobiotic beverages. The tiny microbes are good-for-you healthy and the drink is delicious.
You support communities and agriculture…
At Clarion River Organics, the farm known for selling the Schmucker Brothers’ 100% grass-fed beef on site, you can sign up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) that will deliver a rainbow of fresh-from-the-farm vegetables, fruits and leafy things in either a small share or a full share.
Another CSA offering comes from Big Horn Ranch, where you choose your protein—beef, pork, chicken or a combination of all three. There are varying share sizes of half sausage and burger, and half prime cuts. Wheel and Wedge Cheese shop brings the best (and most humanely produced) hard to find cheeses and charcuterie to Pittsburgh, specializing in a wide selection of Pennsylvania-made cheeses that can only be found there. There is a bevy of other farms, orchards and creameries to support, along with Yeany’s, a family owned and operated producer of pure Pennsylvania maple syrup, straight from the Allegheny National Forest.
You need to buy a gift…
This market doesn’t stop at food. A handful of vendors bring a welcome mix of local art and craftsmanship to the market space. At Jonathan Moran Woodworks, Jonathan and his wife Mindy sell their gorgeous handcrafted pieces. You’ll find work-of-art coffee tables, oven pulls (if you have no clue what an oven pull is, then do yourself a favor and go buy one) and more beautiful wood creations.
The weather might no longer call for hats and mittens and big fuzzy sweaters, but fluffy, plush lions, yarn supplies and throw blankets are good to have year-round. Among the local artists featured is Backstage Alpaca for beautiful capes, shawls and more, including super cuddly llama puppets, and Hey Beast Studio where artist Jeff Brunner sells his colorful animal prints and his fun children’s book Armadillo to Zebu: an Alphabet Book for You and Me Too.
You want a good meal…
La Palapa sells home-style Mexican food where you can sit down and enjoy a few authentic and mouth-watering tacos with your East End Brewery samples. Ohio City Pasta makes for a great takeout lunch or snack with creative creations like breakfast sandwiches made with ravioli and pasta noodles made from beets.
In the mood for soup? Nancy’s Soups—all homemade—are tops, some of the best we’ve ever had and her selection is good, too, including vegan and vegetarian.
Satisfy your craving for curry with Billu’s Indian Grill, and make sure to check out the onion fritters. Sweet tooth? Eliza’s Oven and has delectable pies and cupcakes galore, some infused with Wigle Whiskey or other spirits. The alcohol bakes out so they can be enjoyed by any age. The newest dining feature of The Pittsburgh Public Market is The Market Kitchen, a test kitchen that is fully licensed with multiple stations and available for hourly rental by bakers, caterers, specialty food producers, personal chefs, cart vendors and food trucks.
You have to buy groceries…
Make a list! Shopping this market is more of an experience than a chore. You can buy all kinds of things, from top of the line olive oil to all kinds of tasty vinegars to fresh pasta and hand-crafted soap. “I come for the community,” says Andrew Longewill, a barista at Cafe d’Amore Catering. “You can stop and have a conversation because here the vendors have a connection to the product. In fact, The Pittsburgh Public Market might be one of the only places in the city where you can buy milk that still comes in a glass jug. Thank Family Farms Creamery for this and for some rather unique flavors of ice cream.”
All photos by Brian Cohen.