“Cleveland has always enjoyed a healthy rivalry with its Rust Belt sister Pittsburgh,” reports Scene, the alternative weekly in Cleveland. “But when it comes to that city’s blossoming culinary scene, one can’t help but draw a comparison to our own hometown. Inspired by a thriving, off-the-beaten-path cultural vibe, the Steel City has spent the past years reinventing the old pierogi, cabbage and kielbasa standbys. Chefs are bringing locally sourced ingredients to the table and experimenting with new ideas in accessible but forward-thinking dining experiences.

“While 36 hours is hardly enough time to take in Pittsburgh’s full scope, we certainly did our best to do just that.”

They got a good start on Friday night, checking out Butcher and the Rye and Grit & Grace, “528 steps” away. “With its open-air restaurants and patio dining galore, Pittsburgh’s burgeoning downtown might call to mind the vibrancy of Cleveland’s own East Fourth Street,” says the author, Nikki Delamotte.

On Saturday, she was off to La Gourmandine Bakery, an authentic French bakery just featured in NEXTpittsburgh, another good start, before finding her way to 720 Music, Clothing and Cafe. “Stop at the front of the house for a cold-brewed iced coffee ($3.50) or an affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice cream drowned with a shot of hot expresso. Plan to lose track of the day perusing the racks of hip-hop, soul and rarities on vinyl, tables stacked with arts literature and vintage threads that line the remainder of the store.”

Saturday night is spent at Tender Bar + Kitchen, followed by Butterjoint. “Located in a restored 19th-century bank — hence the name — the interior of Tender Bar + Kitchen (4300 Butler St., 412-402-9522, tenderpgh.com) is appropriately embellished with a bar made from the institution’s former marble, and walls adorned with checks of yesteryear. Naturally, the Prohibition-era theme lends itself to inspired twists on cocktails, such as the Por do sol ($12), with oak-aged rum, Peychaud’s bitters and clove tincture. The crispy confit wings ($8) offer a kick to the meal with Sriracha glaze and kimchi; and the New Bedford scallops ($24) are fortified with wild mushrooms, barley risotto and a hint of blueberry.”

And on Sunday?

“Being a sports town, PGH bustles on Sundays, and the infamous Strip District is no exception,” she writes. “And because it’s Sunday Funday, the Pittsburgh Public Market (2401 Penn Ave., 412-281-4505, pittsburghpublicmarket.org) should be Stop #1 for boozy brunch hand pies ($4) from Eliza’s Oven. Try the ham and beer cheese pie made with Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale from East End Brewing Co., which also dispenses take-home growlers at the Public Market. The mushroom and onion pie uses a cream sauce made with a White Wheat variety from Wigle Whiskey distillery, a nearby small-batch manufacturer.”

Other stops include the legendary Penn Mac and Reyna’s in the Strip then a drop in at Pittsburgh Popcorn Company on Liberty Ave. downtown.

She also did a short companion piece on the drinking scene.

We say 36 hours well spent.

NEXT staff

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.