Last weekend, Jim and I were faced with an impossible task. We had to show Jim’s cousin Greg, and Greg’s girlfriend Sarah a great time in Pittsburgh in the short span of their less-than-24-hour visit.
If you’ve ever lived in or been to this city, you know that there is no possible way to do everything worth doing in just one weekend. Between all the fantastic restaurants, neighborhoods, museums, and sports teams, it takes days, weeks, even years to experience it all. With our limited time constraint, we did our best to show off our personal favorite spots and try some new things as well.
Last weekend, we knew we were centered on one thing, and that was the Pittsburgh Penguins game against the Buffalo Sabres. It was fitting, since they are all from Buffalo, and still a perfect way to show off the Consol Energy Center and our nearly unstoppable hockey team, as well as walk through a bit of downtown.
So when they arrived in Pittsburgh, Jim and I went to pick them up at their hotel downtown, and our first stop was Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville. We picked this church-turned-brewpub because Jim and I had never been there ourselves, and I’ve seen it on lists of the best places to eat and drink in the city.
Walking into the restaurant, you immediately feel a sense of reverence. You feel like you should kneel down and genuflect in the direction of the altar, which houses multiple copper vats and brewing equipment. The space is wide open, with tons of seating and a bar to one side, but it never seemed loud or chaotic. We were seated in a booth at the front of the “church” and we proceeded to order several of the specialty brews. I was a huge fan of the Sanctuary Saison and the Oktoberfest. We also tried a few appetizers and loved all of them – Spinach, Feta and Gouda Dip, Bruschetta, and of course, their untraditional pierogies, which happened to be ranch bacon cheddar that day.
After Church Brew Works, we drove back downtown to grab some dinner before the game. Yes, we had just eaten, but you know Pittsburgh is all about food. Our original plan was to take our guests to the Pittsburgh Grille, however we were disappointed to find it closed on Saturdays. Instead we walked over to Fifth Avenue and stopped into The Souper Bowl, a little dive right across from Consol, where we got a few cheap beers, wings and sandwiches.
We went over to Consol with enough time before the game to walk around and grab a few more beers. It’s always fun for me to bring people to Pittsburgh stadiums and arenas for the first time, because I get to see them through whole new eyes. Greg and Sarah were saying that the arena felt small, but we looked up the capacity of Consol versus First Niagara Center and it’s actually bigger. We had pretty good seats, courtesy of my dad, and luckily Greg, Sarah and Jim didn’t get heckled too much for wearing Sabres jerseys.
The Pens looked like they were playing great that night (although it could also be that Buffalo is terrible), and the game was fun to watch. They beat the Sabres, 5-0. We left a little early to beat the traffic and get back to Shadyside.
Our next stop on our brief tour of Pittsburgh was The Yard, a new gastropub off of Walnut Street in Shadyside. Jim and I have been here a few times before and we love the huge selection of beer and the private, almost secret, location. It was pretty crowded that night but we were still able to get a table and try a few beers and late-night snacks.
The next morning, we decided to conclude the Pittsburgh tour with brunch at Pamela’s and their famous hotcakes. The wait was (only) about 35 or 40 minutes, but it happened to be a nice, brisk fall morning and the sun was warm while we waited outside. We also walked around Kards Unlimited across the street, which is the cutest little shop where you can find anything from books and greeting cards to candles and jewelry.
Unfortunately, our visitors had to head back to Buffalo after we finished brunching. Their short weekend trip was certainly not enough time to do everything we wanted to, but we made it work. When we have out of town visitors, we usually try to make a trip up the incline to Mount Washington to see the gorgeous view of the city, but this was the one big thing we didn’t have time for.
Pittsburgh has many wonderful and beautiful stories to tell, and with every restaurant, every attraction, and every neighborhood, you find something new to love. You can discover a whole new perspective just by visiting a place you’ve never been before, and that’s what I love so much about living here. Jim and I have a lot left to explore, and we’re excited to show our friends and families everything we find.