The year of 2020 has been one of the most atypical periods I’ve ever endured in my life — I’m sure many of you can agree.
Cooped up in the house, I’ve been relying on Pinterest to find new activities to do at home: recipes, DIY projects, finding good books to read, you name it. Admittedly, it has been quite an adjustment to stay occupied. From quarantine to social distancing, there is nothing I appreciate more than a taste of normalcy. Spending time at home really allowed space for reflection and growth which evolved into new practices I devote to incorporate in everyday life. One of the things I have committed to is spending my money more consciously — essentially, supporting people that support me. There are endless places in Pittsburgh to explore, and I cannot wait to reconnect with some of the spots that have made my upbringing in Pittsburgh so special, and explore new places!
I am the ultimate foodie. Seriously, there is nothing I love more than good flavor, presentation and experience when it comes to a restaurant. For special occasions, I love to stay more on the luxurious style -- which is why I’m eager to try out Fogo de Chao. It’s a fine dining Brazilian steakhouse, located downtown, that I’ve been saving to go to for a family get together. It’s perfect because they offer private dining for groups, whether it’s celebrations, corporate events, weddings, graduations and more. Their restaurant looks so beautiful and the menu looks even better -- it's so hard to decide on a meal. I think I’d end up going for the ‘Frango’ meal — it’s chicken leg marinated in a custom beer and brandy marinade. I’d follow it with papaya cream for dessert. My friends, however, will probably be most excited for the charcuterie platters.
On more casual days, I usually go for soul food. One of the best places to get a good soul food meal is Showcase BBQ in Homewood. An exceptional plate of saucy wings, rich mac ‘n cheese and hardy collard greens is my go to! Throughout the pandemic, I have gotten takeout from here a hefty amount of times and not once have they disappointed. Soul food always gives me a taste of my childhood, it really is food for the soul.
Additionally, I’ve always been a fan of Salud Juicery and I’ve discovered there is a location near me in Oakland that I’ve been keeping up with via Instagram. Can’t wait to grab a classic acai bowl to get my mornings started!
Did I mention all three of the food spots I mentioned are either black-owned or black-operated?
Ever since COVID, I’ve had a lot of picnics — due to the takeout option only — and my favorite outdoor space for that is the massive field just past Blue Slide Park. It’s ideal for getting outside while also prioritizing social distancing, you can even take a short (or long!) hike after. Personally, I’m a fan of biking as opposed to walking.
If you appreciate the outdoors then you’ll really appreciate one of my favorite hidden gems in the city -- Sunflower Field in Boyce Park. The field is over 6 acres of big, gorgeous, vibrant sunflowers! You can get creative and go to have a family and friends photoshoot or just go for a change of scenery. It's a fun (and free!) excuse to get out of the house and enjoy a sunny day.
The next gem I find not too many people know of is Paititi Inti. Paititi’s (as I call it for short) is a small peruvian shop in a Squirrel Hill nook. It’s where I get all of my stone rings, beaded necklaces and most jewelry gifts. I found it when I started exploring the neighborhood that my high school, Allderdice, was located in a few years ago. The owner is always super helpful and can even help you pick out clothes and accessories geared towards your style and budget. They even sell some unique home decor that could easily dress up your house. Speaking of, and if you even need a 6ft stuffed alpaca -- they’re your gals. Such a cool shop.
If you’re planning to visit Pittsburgh soon, consider staying at the Ace Hotel. It's a 4.5 star hotel located in East Liberty. What makes The Ace so special is its apartment-esque aroma, it’s far from a stiff hotel feel and more like a home away from home. Conveniently, Target and Wholefoods are within the vicinity along with other restaurants Tana (ethiopian food), Choolaah (Indian food), honeygrow (stir-fry) and so many more! Whatever you are craving, East Lib has it all.
There’s been something I’ve been dying to try - a tiki boat cruise. You might be thinking to yourself, “well what in the world is that?!”. Essentially, Cruisin’ Tikis offers a special water experience for a group of six people to tour Pittsburgh. On the tiki style boat, everyone can enjoy a relaxing time as the boat travels along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. Cool, right?
Recently, an upcoming business has come to my attention — Blanket and Board. They offer custom luxury picnics which include fruit, charcuterie, cheeses, nuts, salad skewers, baguettes, vegetables and more in a park of your choice. They also adjust to vegetarians, vegans and those who may have other dietary restrictions, which is extremely important when it comes to my group of friends. A luxury outdoor experience would be a perfect surprise date or get-together. I have even seen people celebrate their anniversaries and birthdays with a beautiful, luxury picnic! You can keep up with the FOMO, alongside myself, on their Instagram @blanketandboard.
My love for my hometown, Pittsburgh, has been prominent for my whole life and continues to expand over time. Pittsburgh is one city out of many, but its character is unmatched. Ever since the start of the pandemic, I’ve learned to hold on to the new memories I create throughout the city a little longer — never overlook the great things in Pittsburgh.