Local Pittsburgh Gems
Enduring winter months in Pittsburgh, PA often reveals new levels of seasonal depression that people living in sunnier climates have never experienced. Being a Pittsburgh native, I am beyond envious of these people!
When the dreary weather departs and serotonin levels rise again, fueled by occasional glimpses of the sun, I put my sweatpants and leggings into hibernation for the summer and replace them with my favorite dresses, jumpsuits, and shorts.
Now that I’m all dressed up where should I go… that’s easy! On one gorgeous sunny Saturday in March, I was reunited with a Pittsburgh essential: The Strip District. Here is where I went — and you should too.
Mon Aimee Chocolat
First stop before lunch: Mon Aimee Chocolat. This local chocolatier was founded by Amy Rosenfield and is celebrating it 90th year of business. Amy saw a gap in the Pittsburgh confectionary market, and, wow am I happy she took a chance to start her own business.
They carry a jaw dropping assortment of chocolates and candies from local vendors. My favorite was the Dolfin brand but specifically the milk chocolate with salted butter caramel. Actually mouthwatering! Another fun favorite for the person who likes an aesthetically pleasing treat was the “Literally Can’t Even” by the brand Chocolate Cliché. It was a delightful milk chocolate and s’more flavor to make you feel like it’s summer all year round.
Next Stop: Pennsylvania Libations. The homepage of their website reads “Not your average liquor store” and I can vouch for that statement being accurate!
As Pennsylvania’s only independently owned liquor store, they were able to stay open through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Unlike other small businesses that were forced to close their doors for good after the pandemic subsided, Pennsylvania Libations actually opened a second store also located in the Strip District.
The second location at 1700 Penn curates the largest collection of Pennsylvania-made wines in the state and the location features a large outdoor seating area with picnic table, live bands, and food truck on the weekends.
The original location is your dream destination for specialty gins, vodkas, and whiskeys. And the best part is you’re not purchasing blindly, you can taste before you buy! After buying chocolates and liquors for yourself and maybe even as gifts for friends and family, it’s time for lunch.
Good Eating: Luke Wholey’s, Primanti Brothers, and DeLuca’s
How about lunch or breakfast? In the Strip District, you have your choice of dozens of local and fabulous restaurants to choose from. A few of my favorites — depending on your mood — are Luke Wholey’s, the original Primanti Brothers, and DeLuca’s Diner. A quick warning, make a reservation whenever possible or you’ll be stuck hungry on a waitlist for a table!
Let’s start with breakfast at DeLuca’s. Isn’t there something so charming about a diner that still only accepts cash? They have a huge menu which will surely have a breakfast or lunch option for everyone in your party. And they’re now open again for dine in, which is great because they’ve been “serving breakfast and lunch all day! Since 1950.” An establishment that has stood the test of time like this is a must visit.
For lunch or dinner, give either Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grill or the original Primanti Brothers a try. Luke Wholey’s is a local family and businessman with a passion for fishing, and I have the personal privilege of being friends with his fishing buddy who has nothing but great things to say about him and his restaurant. The restaurant has a fun and inviting atmosphere and a wide variety of fresh seafood options including Dutch Harbor Alaskan King Crab, Parmesan Panko Broiled Cod, and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Entree.
And finally, the restaurant that reinvented the sandwich, Primanti Brothers! If you’re in the mood for a sandwich that has all the normal toppings as well as sides, French fries and coleslaw between two thick slices of bread, this is the place for you. Their house cocktails are also perfect for a weekend night-out with friends. After all of that shopping, snacking, and eating, it’s time a little pick me up.
Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange
A little caffeine jolt: Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange is like Disneyland for coffee and tea lovers. They sell special blends of coffees including Bali Blue Moon, Congo Lake Kivu, and Hawaiian Kona and teas to take home as well as a coffee and tea bar with drinks prepared by the experts. Not only do they have delicious products but the cutest accessories to go with them. A fun tea, a brewing ball, and mug would make the perfect birthday or holiday gift.
After a long day of walking around in the sun I’ve decided it’s not quite the right moment to retire my comfy clothes! Having the memories of the day stored in my memory I have little reminders around the house from Pennsylvania Libations, Mon Aimee Chocolat, and Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange to share part of the experience with friends and family later. If you try any of these places let us know in the comments.
Images courtesy of Google Images