Things to do in The Strip District

Strip District street view, produce on Penn Ave, Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. (photos by Rob Larson) and mural on a building at 31st and Penn. (photo by Tracy Certo).

Once a hub for manufacturing and shipping, the Strip District is now a food and shopping destination unlike any other in the country.

Stats (via Niche)

  • Population: 943
  • Size: 0.609 sq. miles
  • Median Rent: $1,813
  • Median Home Value: $352,900

Don’t Miss

If you’re in the Strip, chances are you’re planning to get some food. Start the day right with a classic breakfast at Pamela’s, Deluca’s or Kelly O’s. A caffeine fix is easy to find. The neighborhood boasts plenty of coffee spots, including the classic La Prima and the newer hotspot, de Fer Coffee & Tea.

For many, lunch in the Strip is rooted in tradition. This might mean fresh fish at Penn Avenue Fish Company with its fun, welcoming vibe, or catfish at Luke Wholey’s. Try a couple of spicy tacos from Edgar’s stand on 21st Street or one of those famous fries-and-slaw-topped sandwiches from the original Primanti Brothers, or a Peppi’s sub.

Of course, there’s still plenty of room for new entries into the lunch game. Some of the best are Café Raymond and Smallman Galley — which features four restaurant concepts in a communal food hall. Iron Born Pizza, a veteran of the restaurant incubator known for its Detroit-style goodies, now has a permanent spot on Smallman Street. DiAnoia’s Eatery offers mouthwatering Italian eats and the owners are opening Pane é Pronto down the street for bread and takeout.

Though the Strip is certainly at its peak during daylight hours, there are still plenty of places to grab a nice dinner. Try Savoy for upscale versions of classic American dishes, or Eleven for refined, modern American cuisine. Another big Burrito restaurant, Kaya, serves up island-inspired food and drinks like jerk chicken and mojitos. Supper on Penn, Osteria 2350 and Bar Marco offer delicious dinners, wine and cocktails. And Roland’s Seafood Grill and Iron Landing has been a Strip District staple for more than 60 years.

The Pennsylvania Market houses an upscale food bazaar with six kitchen stations, a tavern, an international wine library and a courtyard with local vendors.

For dessert, nothing beats Klavon’s. This old-fashioned scoop shop and candy store serves up decadent ice cream from Penn State Berkey Creamery.

Come thirsty when you visit the Strip. Wigle Whiskey, which makes a variety of organic, grain-to-bottle spirits, and Maggie’s Farm, which distills award-winning rums, are both based here. Newcomers include the beautifully restored home of Kingfly Spirits as well as Pennsylvania Libations, which will soon open a nightspot and bottle shop with Helltown Brewing.

In addition to making a range of approachable, traditional wines, Pittsburgh Winery regularly hosts intimate cellar concerts. If beer is more your speed, you’re in luck. Cinderlands Warehouse is a sleek, industrial space where you can enjoy some amazing brew or you catch a buzz at  The BeerHive.

People flock from all over to load up on everything from cheese and olive oil at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company to seafood at Wholey’s to prosciutto and salami at Parma Sausage. If you have a sweet tooth, stop in at Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop or the incomparable Mon Aimee Chocolat.

Of course, you can get more than food in the Strip. Bikes, flowers, furniture, fabricsouvenir t-shirts, kitchen supplies and plenty more can be found there. Your best bet? Park a few blocks away from the mayhem and just wander.

For a break from the throngs of shoppers, pop into the Heinz History Center and learn about Pittsburgh industry, culture and sports through the years. And if you or the kids are ready to break a sweat, look into the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, which offers community dance and fitness classes for both seasoned dancers and folks with two left feet eager to learn some moves.

And finally, take a moment to admire St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, one of the city’s oldest and most iconic churches.

Fast Facts

Many of Pittsburgh’s mightiest companies once resided in the Strip, including Heinz, Westinghouse and U.S. Steel.

Today, the Strip has become a mecca for tech companies including Apple, Facebook and Bosch. While the heart of the Strip remains unchanged — thankfully! — the perimeters are booming with new construction for offices, condos and apartments.

The iconic Produce Terminal on Smallman St., where it all started for the Strip, is undergoing massive transformation and will reopen in 2020 with new restaurants and stores. No announcements yet but stay tuned.

Many of the Strip’s most popular spots are old warehouses and factories. The Heinz History Center, for instance, was once an ice warehouse, and trendy apartments and condos have moved into former factory spaces for dairy and cork producers.

Primanti Brothers got its start as a cart that sold sandwiches to truckers, who were constantly passing through the Strip. Primanti’s self-contained sandwiches, which include fries and slaw between the bread, were a perfect fit for workers on the move.

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