Welcome to Pittsburgh! What do you want to do first? Not sure yet? Well what about plans for tomorrow? …Well you still have time to decide… Where are you staying? You haven't booked a hotel yet?!?!
When I think about folks visiting Pittsburgh, my mind wanders toward experiences with some really unique takeaways
Maybe these visitors have already ridden the Duquesne Incline. Perhaps they’ve already stood at Point State Park and taken a stroll through the Carnegie Museums. Maybe they ate a Primanti Bros. sandwich and even paired it with an Iron City Lager.
As we peel back the layers of Pittsburgh, we reveal shrouded corners of our neighborhoods; we stumble upon hidden gems that shine like diamonds in the rough. Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, I took a stab at traversing our unconventional terroir to showcase some of my favorite Pittsburgh Hidden Gems. Enjoy.
Grandma B’s, Hill District
Grandma B’s is a no-nonsense, straightforward breakfast diner in the heart of the Hill District - a Black-owned business in a Black neighborhood with an incredible vibe. Be sure to ask for Dorian (the owner) and let him share a story or two about his café.
The Thyme Machine, Bloomfield
If you’re a fan of breakfast sandwiches, head to The Thyme Machine food cart. This seasonal pop-up is parked at 4613 Liberty Ave (8 a.m. - noon) every Wednesday thru Friday.
Fet-Fisk Royal Market, Shaler
What started as a Nordic-themed dinner pop-up series (announced sporadically via Instagram) has blossomed into a full-blown market located in Shaler. Expect delicious smoked and pickled fish, sausages, charcuterie and other Swedish, sea fare-forward offerings. This one won't be a secret for long, as chef Nik Forsberg was recently named a 2023 James Beard Award finalist.
Monterey Pub, Mexican War Streets, Northside
After a brief closure during the COVID-19 pandemic, Monterey Pub has reopened under the guidance of a core team that spawned out of Federal Galley, also in the Northside. Hearty Irish eats tucked neatly amongst the rowhouses of the Mexican War Streets.
With a focus on Izakaya (Japanese snacks/street food and drinks), the Umami vibe is unlike any other in Pittsburgh. Go for a late dinner and take in the lighting, music and service - everything flows effortlessly through the space, which is located directly above Round Corner Cantina.
Carson Street Deli & Craft Beer Bar, South Side
Decadent sandwiches and a thoughtful focus on local, craft beer make Carson Street Deli & Craft Beer Bar a must stop for folks meandering through the South Side.
Lucy’s Banh Mi, Strip District
A seasonal pop-up food cart located outside Bar Marco in the Strip District, Lucy herself spends the warmer months in Pittsburgh before returning to her native Vietnam during the winter months. Her cash-only pop-up has no menu - she makes incredible banh mi (pork or chicken), and you enjoy it right there on the street. No questions asked.
The Goldmark/The Confidant, Lawrenceville
For folks who enjoy live DJ performances, The Goldmark (and its sister speakeasy, The Confidant) is one of the best places to enjoy a drink and dance in town. DJ owned and operated (no requests).
Goodlander Cocktail Brewery, Larimer
A new-to-Pittsburgh concept, the Goodlander Cocktail Brewery carefully pre-batches tasty cocktails into kegs for a whole new take on ready-to-consume mixed drinks. Up to this point, all cocktail offerings have been for carryout (off-site consumption).
Kaibur Coffee & Cafe, Polish Hill
A quirky, charming gem of a cafe found in Polish Hill - be sure to go hungry and try the vegetarian-friendly menu!
Blue Dust, Homestead
For the bloody mary fans, THIS is your spot. Easily the most thoughtful selection of bloodies in town with infused spirits, talented bartenders and a stellar selection of craft beer. Blue Dust is a great place to catch a hockey game with the charming interruptions of a VERY active railroad line located directly behind the bar.
The Allegheny Wine Mixer, Upper Lawrenceville
Quite literally the perfect spot for a date, AWM does everything right. Top-notch service, great hours of operation, an incredible selection of wines, cocktails and beers AND a handful of small bites. The intimate lighting, décor and music elevate the AWM experience to a whole new level.
Jekyl & Hyde, South Side
This hidden gem bar has been celebrating Halloween daily for more than 25 years. A fantastic list of spooky cocktails pair perfectly with the macabre vibes decorating this bar from top to bottom, complete with black lights and old school horror movies playing as you sip.
Belvedere's Ultra-Dive, Lawrenceville
It doesn't look like much, and that's the entire point. This no-frills bar erupts into the best dance floor in the Burgh with the region's best DJs doing themed nights from Sadderday (emo night) to MeMe Night (hits of the Tik Tok generation) post punk, alt 80s and more.
Burgh Bits and Bites, Various Pittsburgh Neighborhoods
Want to really eat like a Pittsburgh native? Ready to discover the history behind every bite? The Burgh Bits and Bites tour take you on a culinary adventure as you walk through historic neighborhoods like Brookline and the Strip District, stopping in shops and restaurants along the way to meet the owners and sample the international cuisine that puts us on the map.
The Clemente Museum, Lower Lawrenceville
Housed in a historic Engine House, The Clemente Museum showcases the world's largest exhibited collection of baseball artifacts related to Pittsburgh and MLB great Roberto Clemente. Book one of their intimate tours in advance and enjoy Engine House TwentyFive wines, craft made in the bottom floor, as you enjoy this amazing tour.
Clement Freeway, Bloomfield
Pittsburgh’s free and legal graffiti wall is located on Clement Way, in an alley between Liberty Beer and Trace Brewing. This constantly revolving art installation makes for a perfect backdrop to snag a photo or hang out and watch graffiti artists express themselves.
Concrete Beach, Strip District
Of all the hidden gems included here, this one is truly weather and light dependent. Throw on some comfy sneakers and head to the intersection of 35th and Smallman St. (Strip District) and walk past Salonika Imports (on 35th St.) until the road ends. Continue walking straight and bear to the left, walk under the railroad trestle and carefully traverse the narrow, elevated platform until you are directly above the Allegheny River on a circular patch of concrete. Watch boats go by, enjoy views of both the 31st St. Bridge and the 40th St. Bridge and take in the breeze.
Bicycle Heaven, Chateau
You won't believe this place. Take a self guided tour of the largest bicycle museum in the world, known as much for its number of bikes (including many famous and one-of-a-kind designs) as the eclectic decorations, original art and amazing displays filling every square foot. Make sure to bring a cash donation to help keep this museum free.
Architectural Walking Tours, Various Pittsburgh Neighborhoods
Even as a lifelong Pittsburgher, I learned more in an hour walking tour with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation than any museum. Amazing guides, small groups and customizable tours let you book a stellar experience with ease each trip.
Observatory Hill, Perry North
For the avid cyclist or runner, the Observatory Hill loop is a beautiful, low vehicle traffic path that bobs and weaves through gorgeous tree-lined trails. The very top of the hill includes Allegheny Observatory. If you’re cool with lots of elevation change, Observatory Hill is a challenging, fun gem of a park right here in the city.
Allegheny Cemetery, Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights
A hidden gem that’s really not very hidden at all, the Allegheny Cemetery walking paths offer a peaceful respite from the congestion and noise between Lawrenceville and Penn Ave. A lovely ecosystem within the city that automatically transports your mind and mood to a different place. Bonus points if you see all the deer!
Looking for even MORE Pittsburgh hidden gems? Add one or several of these suggestions: