A Road Trip for Yinz: Two Days in Pittsburgh

Friday, April 27, 2018

Two of Mike's best friends live in Pittsburgh, & Mike himself lived there before we met. It's just a two-hour drive away, & though the city has a Rust Belt vibe that makes it quite familiar to us Clevelanders, it also has its own distinct personality - one that I really, really like. Like, if I didn't live in Cleveland, I think I'd live in Pittsburgh - though I can't imagine driving up & down all those crazy hills!

We stayed with our friends Nick & Susan, who live in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, & spent time with them exploring some of their favorite local hotspots. Here's what our weekend looked like (not including the post-brunch nap we all took on Saturday afternoon).

Dan Dan & Dumplings at Everyday Noodles

We didn't want to do anything fancy for dinner, so our friends chose Everyday Noodles, which is apparently a bit of a cult favorite - & with good reason. I found the menu so intimidating - it didn't explain what anything was or what came in/with each dish! - so I just ordered something suggested by my friend Susan & hoped for the best.

It didn't disappoint! The spicy noodles came in a lightly soupy, peanut buttery sauce with a taste I hadn't experienced before. We also got two order of pork soup dumplings to split, which I thought I might not like because something dumpling skins feel to me too much like... well, like real skin. That wasn't the case this time; these were divine.

Manhattans at The Independent Brewing Co.

No photos available of this one, but we sat at a table on the patio & enjoyed a few cocktails. I love any place that has a sidecar on its drink menu, & this one - though it was missing the sugar on the rim - was one of the best I've had in awhile.

Smoke, Home of the Breakfast Taco

Again, no photos of the breakfast tacos themselves, which came rolled in aluminum foil & thus less than attractive - but nevermind that, because they were legitimately the best breakfast tacos I've ever had, beating out the many I consumed in Austin. The best of the two I ordered was the migas taco (egg, cheese, hot peppers & onions, black beans, & crispy tortilla strips). We also split a deep-fried avocado stuffed with brisket, which is pictured in the unidentifiable photo below.

Look, photos weren't my priority. Deliciousness was.

Caffeine from Crazy Mocha 

I don't like black coffee, so I never order it in restaurants & always wait to hit a coffee shop later. For a quick caffeine jolt after brunch, we stopped by Crazy Mocha, a local chain with sustainably sourced coffee & funky decor. They also serve cookies the size of my face, which I didn't indulge in - just ogled. The latte I ordered was tops, & perfect for a stroll through the neighborhood on a sunny-but-not-hot day.

A Quick Adventure at The Mattress Factory

I already wrote about how angry I was during our visit to this contemporary art museum, where a group of rude Instagrammers got in the way of our enjoyment of nearly every single exhibit. What I didn't write about was how much I liked the museum, regardless of that frustration.

It was cool to experience Yayoi Kusama's dots exhibits before her art comes to the Cleveland Museum of Art later this year (we got tickets for July!), & the other exhibits were interesting, too - especially a room full of mylar walls & purple-lit plants, & a separate building full of tiny dollhouse-like architecture. It had a distinctly Pretty Little Liars creep-factor vibe.

One of the museum buildings was closed, so we sort of missed out - but it was still a worthwhile visit.

Pints & Pierogis at Church Brew Works

Thrillist listed Church Brew Works as a Pittsburgh must-see, & though everyone else had already been, they kindly indulged me for Saturday night dinner at this church-turned-brewery. Our friends Mark & Daniel drove in from the suburbs to meet up with us over pierogis (a Rust Belt staple) & craft brews; I went with their Ambrosia Ale, a pale wheat ale, which was really light & refreshing... & surprisingly boozy.

Mike swears their pierogis were Mrs. T's, but I've never met a pierogi I didn't like, so I didn't mind too much. The price point is a little high for the quality of the food & drink, but the beautiful & unusual setting - it's so strange to see brewing machines on the altar! - make it worth it.

Pancakes from Pamela's Diner

I first visited Pamela's in 2015, seven years after President Obama ate there, so of course I was thrilled to follow in the president's brunch footsteps. Pamela's crepe-thin pancakes are a thing of delicious beauty, with the crispiest, butteriest edges you've ever tried. They soak up syrup like sponges, & they'll keep you full (& carbo-loaded) the whole day long. To die for, I tell you.

A Missed Opportunity to Visit Jerry's Records

We planned to stop at Jerry's on the way out of town, which is widely regarded as the world's largest all-vinyl record store & has been named by Rolling Stone as one of the best record stores in the country. I've been once, & while I'm no expert in record stores, I've got to agree that it's such a cool space.  I hope to take Mike there sometime to replenish his seriously dwindling record collection.

With that, we headed home - just a two-hour drive back to the CLE, but we felt like we'd gotten the experience of a completely different place. We're lucky to live so close to Pittsburgh, which is way cooler than I ever hear it get credit for. We'll be back!

Have you been to Pittsburgh? What do I need to see next time?

1 comment:

  1. Love this! We’ve been talking about a weekend trip to Pittsburgh so I will be saving this!


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