Travel

A Pittsburgh, PA Travel Guide (For Eating & Drinking)

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Are you guys sleepy?

The Monday after SuperBowl is always a rough one — especially when you stay up to watch a nail-biter of a comeback game that goes into overtime! Tom Brady deserves every last blinged out bit of that ring #5. I personally think he should wear it on his thumb.

Game day aside, this weekend was quite the eventful one as Mr. THD and I were able to sneak away for 36-hours and check one of our travel to-dos off the list — Pittsburgh, PA. I’m not quite sure how many people out there have Pittsburgh on their bucket list, but perhaps this little guide can change that.

Since moving to Cleveland, we’re always on the hunt for quick, child-free getaways that are a short road trip away. Pittsburgh seemed to fit the bill perfectly — small scenic city, great food and drinks, nice hotels, cool history, art museums, a thriving theater district and overall, lots to do. Now, ditch everything BUT the nice hotel, food and drinks and that pretty much sums up our 36-hours in Pittsburgh.

Which by the way, is not a bad thing at all…

Pittsburgh, PA

Things to Know Before You Go:

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You may know Pittsburgh from its deep rooted, “Rust Belt” history. Once a thriving manufacturing city, the city of Pittsburgh fell into depression and disarray once the the factories shut down mid-20th Century — partially due to economic factors, increased automation, cheaper labor and the decline of raw materials.

Since that time, Pittsburgh has undergone a major revitalization with old, abandoned manufacturing buildings repurposed into housing and businesses that better fit the needs of current times. New neighborhoods are cropping up and people are once again re-populating the city with an young energy that reminds me a lot of Cleveland. There are literally surprises around every corner and things are not always what they seem.

What To Pack:

Pittsburgh, PA is definitely a casual kind of town. It’s also cold and windy — thank you Allegheny Mountains! My weekend wardrobe consisted of lots of denim, knits and casual layers. We did a fare amount of walking so I brought along my trusty DANNER BOOTS, as well — which by the way, are AMAZING.

Where To Stay:

THE KIMPTON HOTEL MONACO

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The HOTEL MONACO is boutique design gem for those of us who appreciate a unique mix of traditional architecture and whimsical decor. Located downtown across from Mellon Square Park, Hotel Monaco is smack in the middle of the city’s Cultural District full of galleries, museums and theaters. You’ll really find yourself in the center of it all and a quick Uber ride away from some of the newer Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

pittsburgh travel guide king spa bath

I can’t recommend the Corner King Spa Room enough… the soaking bathtub alone was the perfect reason to get away. It was heavenly.

A quick note: While we didn’t get a chance to eat at the attached new-American restaurant, THE COMMONER, the place was constantly buzzing and full of local Pittsburgh residents — always a good sign.

What To Drink:

Here is where my “expertise” comes in handy. Upon arrival on Saturday, Mr. THD and I unexpectedly embarked on a bit of a midro-brewery bar crawl in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. It all started when we realized that our chosen lunch spot was actually only open for dinner (Whoops. My bad. But check out CURE — it looks amazing!!), and we stopped into a nearby brewery to regroup and figure out our next steps.

FULL PINT WILD SIDE TAP ROOM

pittsburgh travel guide full pint brewing

Raw, exposed wood, industrial fixtures and a pretty thorough assortment of global inspired draft beer. Get the sampler and enjoy the taxidermy. My personal favorite: the All In Amber.

ROUNDABOUT BREWERY

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Stop #2 on our beverage tour de force and just a short walk down Butler Street. The long communal tables and friendly bar staff make for a great combination and social atmosphere. Still full from our first stop, I kept it simple with the classic American Wheat.

DRAAI LAAG

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A really nice Pittsburgh local at Roundabout gave us the heads up on this Belgian + French focused brewery just over the bridge in Millvale that specialized in wild fermentation with local micro flora. In addition to the unique beer assortment, the menu was a nice surprise — you’ll find everything from BBQ smoked brisket sandwiches, to The Bomb Mi — a Pittsburg take on the classic Bahn Mi Vietnamese pork sandwich. If Belgian style beer is your thing, you must try the crisp and dry: Apples + Pears — an ale fermented with apple juice, pears and elderflowers.

SOUTHERN TIER BREWING COMPANY

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To complete our mini bar crawl, we decided to head back downtown to visit the newly opened North Shore outpost of one of our favorite brewers. The original Southern Tier Brewing Company is based 3 hours away in Lakewood, NY and has definitely been one of our favorites for quite some time. If hoppy ales are in your taste wheelhouse (my fave: India Pale Ale IPA), you’ll have plenty to choose from. While this was by far the most commercial and crowded spot on our tour, it definitely made for some good weekend people watching.

What To Eat:

Before heading to Pittsburgh, I reached out to one of my social media friends and Pittsburgh style blogger — Ashley (check out her BLOG!), to get a list of some of her local must-try spots. Since our time in PGH was so short, here are the two restaurants we did hit up!

TĀKÖ

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Part elevated street food purveyor, part late-night lounge — the closest comparison I have for Tākö is La ESQUINA in New York. Reservations are tough to snag, so definitely call in advance if you know you want to try this cultural fusion in the form of tacos. The house special TāKö taco is perhaps the most tender and delicious preparation of octopus I’ve ever had! By the way, in case you were wondering, the margaritas are KILLER — try the Watermelon Basil for a refreshing way to start your meal.

MEAT & POTATOES

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Ashley mentioned that this was her favorite brunch spot and I don’t blame her. Come hungry to this Cultural District hot spot — the gastropub menu is not for the light eater (to say the least). I saw an order of Chicken + Waffles go by and I swear, the giant waffle is topped with an entire half a chicken. The Bloody Mary bar is noteworthy as well — hello, bacon! Again, reservations highly suggested. When we checked in at 11am, the hostess told a walk-in patron that they were fully booked until after 1:30 that day.

So that pretty much wraps up how I spent the last 36 hours.

While we didn’t get to a number of our “planned activities” — one thing is for sure, there will definitely be a repeat trip to Pittsburgh in our future.

pittsburgh travel guide

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