Pittsburgh is a city of friendly sophistication. It’s got bite, moxie and culture in spades. And it’s getting cooler by the minute.
If you have a chance to do business in the Steel City, you’ll definitely want to venture out for a taste. Even if you have just a couple of hours to spare, we’ve asked the Guest Services Manager at Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh to show you how to make the most of your time.
For Hip History Lovers: The Northside
If your knowledge of Andy Warhol is limited to Campbell’s soup cans or Marilyn Monroe’s iconic pout, Pittsburgh has the cure for your art-starved soul. The Andy Warhol Museum, an 88,000-square-feet showcase, is full of works of genius by the white-haired wonder (who was born here in 1928). To further feed your art cravings, head over to the Mattress Factory and see the installations created by artists in residence from around the world. The latest, called “Acupuncture,” features several large light sticks that appear to be piercing through the top floor of the museum.
Afterward, get your Instagram money shot at the technicolor art installation Randyland and reward all of your newfound knowledge with an iconic Pittsburgh refreshment: An Icy Ball Snow Cone from Gus and Yia Yias or iced honey cinnamon latte from Commonplace Coffee (it’s anything but commonplace).
For Creative Types: Lawrenceville
This formerly industrial neighborhood now hums with art, creativity and nightlife. Best enjoyed on foot, it’s known for its great restaurants and coffee shops, a funky combo of old and new, and lots of charm. Check out Morcilla, a tapas restaurant in Lower Lawrenceville – pro tip: check out the traditional Spanish cider pour. Half a mile away on the same street, The Vandal is another hip eatery that locals flock to for its pork shoulder sandwich. And for a tipple afterward, there’s Grapperia, an entire bar dedicated to the stiff Italian digestif made from the skins, seeds and stems left over from winemaking grapes. Tender Bar, Cure (Morcilla’s sister property) and Franktuary each have innovative cocktail lists that are worth a visit. Finally, because finding a thoughtful gift to bring home is next to impossible on short trips, don’t miss a trip to Wild Card Boutique where you can shop local goods made by Pittsburgh artisans.
For Foodies: Strip District & Downtown
What would Anthony Bourdain do? We think he’d take a stroll through the Strip District, a bazaar-style ethnic food extravaganza, sampling delicacies from the vibrant markets and street vendors. Primanti Brothers–the most iconic and mouthwatering Pittsburgh sandwich shop–was invented here, and you can grab a big one to go–piled high with coleslaw and French fries–and enjoy it while you walk along the Allegheny River. Or grab a table at Gaucho Parrilla, a beloved, Argentine-style grill that’s cheerfully BYOB, where chorizo, strip or sirloin steak and pork tenderloin are hearty crowd-pleasers. Meanwhile, the rooftop Biergarten is the place to be on sunny Pittsburgh afternoons, where a ginormous pretzel comes with beer cheese (you’ll want a bucket of this) and an extensive German beer selection is ready to go on tap or by the bottle. And remember: salty breeds a craving for sweet, so plan to snag a fresh-baked chocolate-covered coconut macaroon from Enrico’s Biscotti for the flight home.
At The Commoner, executive chef Wyatt Lash adds notes of the unexpected to a menu of gastropub classics highlighting ingredients from surrounding farms and producers. The restaurant also houses The Commoner Corner, a sidewalk café with takeaway and sit-down service featuring house-smoked meats hand-carved to order, breakfast sandwiches, coffee, fresh pressed juices and shakes.
After you’ve worked your taste buds into a thirst, take a five-minute walk to Wigle Whiskey, earning its moniker from an 18th-century whiskey rebel. Wigle is one of the most respected and awarded distilleries in the country, and you’ll feel like you’ve earned the badge of brown spirits upon taking a tour and sampling some blends.
You can even take a bottle to go – the Easter egg-colored packaging will be the hit of your bar cart – if you check your luggage of course.
For Fresh Air Enthusiasts: Mt. Washington
If you have time for just one thing, we recommend you see Pittsburgh’s iconic, million dollar view – the Duquesne Incline Lookout. Have an Uber drop you off to avoid parking, and try to go on a weekday afternoon, when it’s less crowded. USA Today voted the view as one of “10 Great Places to Study Skylines of the World,” so brace yourself for some jaw-dropping.
While you’re at it, why not take in a short hike on the Grand View Scenic Byway? At just 1.5 miles, twelve interpretive signs paint stories of Pittsburgh’s and Mount Washington’s history, and several restaurants and shops along the way mean you can make an afternoon out of it. Our favorite plan: grab a cold one at The Summit, a local hangout spot with an open-air bar and colorful graffiti.
Where to stay: Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
With 248 rooms and high design galore – wallpaper in full bloom, emerald green tufted headboards and birdcage chandeliers at the bedside to name a few – the Beaux-Arts style building that used to be the Reed Smith law firm is now popping with discerning travelers and in-the-loop locals.