If there’s any one neighborhood which encompasses everything Pittsburgh stands and is known for, it’s the Strip District.
Between a swath of on-street grills, ethnic grocery stores, indoor markets, takeout spots and sit-down restaurants, the Strip is the unquestionable center of Pittsburgh’s food scene, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a look at all that’s great and what’s next for one of Pittsburgh’s favorite neighborhoods in this guide to the Strip District.
Markets & Food
By the cup or by the pound, the Strip has the highest concentration of Pittsburgh’s best coffee vendors. Before you start shopping, grab a cup.
At La Prima, members of the Italian American Society frequently gather here to enjoy their morning espresso and read Italian newspapers. Prestogeorge has been roasting coffee in the Strip for more than 30 years, while many contend that 21st Coffee and Tea boasts the city’s best cup of joe. The Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange also boasts a nice selection of self-serve barrels of bulk beans, and the store’s coffee bar can whip up just about whatever drink strikes your fancy.
And since you can’t survive on coffee alone, swing by Enrico Biscotti for the best Pittsburgh has to offer in traditional Italian pastries. They produce over 1,000 pounds of the little Italian cookies every day, hold special cooking classes and ship their products all over the country.
The Strip is all about food, and great food is what makes for great markets. Robert Wholey & Co. Seafood is one of the street’s most popular markets. They specialize in fish, but you can get just about anything there, from hand-cut meats and fresh produce to a fine selection of bulk dry goods and spices.
If you’re a sushi fan, Andy’s Sushi Bar, right inside the market’s main entrance, is a must. Not only is watching him work an absolute joy, he’s forever cracking jokes while passing out free appetizers to customers waiting patiently to place their orders. His specialty rolls of salmon with mango and tuna with kiwi are particularly wonderful.
In addition to selling a fine selection of fresh fish, Penn Avenue Fish Company is widely considered one of Pittsburgh’s finest seafood restaurants. The menu is vast and the fish tacos are not to be missed.
A few blocks up Penn Avenue, you’ll find the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. The Sunseri family has owned and operated this market since 1902. From olives and cheeses to oil, peppers and every kind of pasta you can imagine, Penn Mac has boasts Pittsburgh’s largest selection of foods imported directly from Italy. Parma Sausage, another family-owned business which produces all of its fresh and cured meats in-house, has been a neighborhood mainstay since 1954.
The Pittsburgh Public Market moved into a new building in 2013 and has been steadily adding both part- and full-time merchants to its space. It offers everything from specialty oils and vinegars at The Olive Tap to charcuterie from the Crested Duck, artisan cheeses at Wheel & Wedge, baked goods from Eliza’s Oven and some of the area’s finest craft beer through East End Brewery. The market is open Wednesday through Sunday, with some vendors operating year-round while others pop up only on weekends or during certain seasons.
Reyna Foods is your go-to spot for Mexican groceries — including homemade corn and flour tortillas — but the aromas from its sidewalk taco stand will be what you notice first. Casa Reyna, the sit-down restaurant downstairs from the grocer, opened last year and has quickly become a local favorite.
Labad’s has all of your Mediterranean grocery needs covered, and whether you’re cooking Chinese or Korean, Vietnamese or Japanese, there isn’t much you can’t get a hold of between Lotus Foods, Wang Fat Hong and Many More Asian Market.
If you’re looking for a more formal dining environment, the Strip has options. Eleven is the crown jewel in local restaurant group Big Burrito’s crown, and it’s consistently rated as one of Pittsburgh’s best dining spots. Bar Marco offers one of Pittsburgh’s most carefully curated wine selections to go with deliciously innovative food and some of the city’s best craft cocktails. Cioppino serves up fresh steaks and seafood and has an attached cigar bar for post-meal indulgence.
Kaya offers Caribbean fare and one of the city’s most underrated brunch menus, though when it comes to good old-fashioned breakfast food, Pamela’s and DeLuca’s continue to battle for supremacy.
Also not to be missed is the Thin Man Sandwich Shop, which is quickly putting Pittsburgh sandwiches on the map with ingredients other than just fries and slaw.
Over on Smallman Street, Wigle Whiskey has come a long way since opening Pittsburgh’s first post-Prohibition distillery in 2012. Today, the family-owned business offers 10 different spirits with more on the way, and its distillery plays host to some of Pittsburgh’s most popular events.
Maggie’s Farm Rum arrived on the scene in 2013, bringing with it one of the city’s most innovative cocktail bars.
Another recent addition to the scene is Pittsburgh Winery, an urban boutique winery that’s made waves since bursting onto the scene. Not only are their wines carried in more than 25 local restaurants, the space itself hosts everything from live music to the occasional yoga class.
While the Strip is an epicurean’s paradise, food isn’t the only reason to go. What’s been a relatively small retail district is growing with the neighborhood. Yinzers in the Burgh is one of the city’s best places to shop for black and gold apparel. Hot Haute Hot’s self-described “hip and humble” space at 2124 Penn has very cool furniture, home accessories, jewelry and artwork you’re not likely to find elsewhere. It’s a gem.