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The first installment of a collection of the suburbs just minutes northeast of the city
Positioned between Sharpsburg and Oakmont, two potentially more widely-known suburban neighborhoods just a short drive northeast of Pittsburgh, I consider Blawnox and Fox Chapel to be hidden gem neighborhoods, offering smalltown charm with solid dining options, unique bars and more – for the most part, all conveniently located along Freeport Road.
Plus, Freeport Road links Sharpsburg and Aspinwall all the way to Hulton Bridge leading into Oakmont and Verona, making it easy to hit all six neighborhoods before looping back to the city.
There are numerous delicious dining options in Blawnox and Fox Chapel, from ethnic cuisine to classic Pittsburgh bar food. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
The original location of Alta Via, part of Pittsburgh-based big Burrito Restaurant Group, can be found in Fox Chapel, offering seasonal, modern Italian cooking. Their lunch, dinner and Sunday bunch menus feature handmade pastas and grilled meats and vegetables.
Nox’s Tavern & Grille serves up award-winning wings with more than thirty sauces to choose from, tasty steamed burgers, loaded salads and more. This is one of my go-to spots because of the delicious menu paired with a lively atmosphere, including live music, karaoke, trivia, tailgate parties and more.
Right around the corner on Freeport Road, Dietch’s Bar & Grille also offers a menu of bar food, including full wings, nachos, sandwiches, burgers and more. You won’t find much about this place anywhere else online, but if you’re looking a good drink and to a place to hangout like a local, this is another great place to be on a night out.
If you love Christmas or just enjoy a unique bar experience, be sure to stop by Bob’s Garage on Freeport Road. Year-round, the bar is covered in floor to ceiling lights, tinsel, ornaments and stockings – and they change the decorations up slightly with other holidays, like Halloween, as well. The outside of the building is also permanently decorated, perfect for Instagram-worthy photos and making it hard to miss as you pass by.
In the center of Blawnox, Old Thunder Brewing occupies the borough’s old U.S. Post Office building, creating a unique and welcoming atmosphere. The brew high-quality lagers and ales, along with strong beers and mixed fermentation recipes destined for wood maturation. They also welcome a local food truck out front daily, Tuesday through Sunday.
Looking for a place to perk up, rather than imbibe? The Black Canary is a new specialty coffee shop in Blawnox that also offers ice cream, milkshakes, mocktails, baked goods, grab-and-go items and more.
Fun fact: their original location is located on the same road just 15 minutes away in Springdale.
Waterworks Shopping Center hosts a variety of retail stores as well as dining options, like Burgatory, Mad Mex, Walnut Grill and more. Plus, you can see a movie at MovieScoop Waterworks Luxury Cinemas. In addition to its regular movie lineup, the independent movie theater also showcases select films for the Three Rivers Film Festival annually.
N Stuff Music is a family owned and operated business, providing musicians, DJs, and producers with the musical instruments and musical equipment they need to write, record, and perform their music for more than 50 years. They also ship nationwide, with an extensive online inventory of musical instruments and sound equipment for professionals and weekend warriors alike.
Beyond selling instruments, they also teach lessons out of their “Little Lesson House” next-door.
Another family owned and operated business, Fox Chapel Ski and Board has shared their passion for Snowsports for more than 20 years. In addition to selling gear, they offer rentals, tuning and maintenance and bootfittings. Whether you’re a resort-slope-beginner or a backcountry daredevil, you'll find what you need at Fox Chapel Ski and Board.
Next-door to the Starlite Lounge restaurant in Blawnox, Moondog’s showcases live blues, rock & open-mike acts daily from 8 p.m. to midnight. The Band Together Clubhouse, located in the back room of Moondog's, offers a free, safe space where anyone can come to hang out and have fun with a variety of musical instruments, video games, and most importantly, comfortable seating so visitors can just talk and get to know each other.
During the spring and summer months, take a hike at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, one of the largest private nature reserves in the Pittsburgh region. Managed by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania under an agreement with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the reserve offers visitors the chance to explore diverse natural communities along well-marked trails.