6

My Pittsburgh Weekend

It’s technically still summer but this weekend has been a little cooler, and the stores are starting to stock up for Back to School.  I like summer but I love fall.  The beginning of autumn fills me with excitement for turtleneck sweaters, boots, and pumpkin spice everything.  It also fills me with regret.  Regret that another summer has gone by and I haven’t been able to do all the things I wanted.  Now it’s clear from my blog that I certainly get out and do a lot, it’s just that I set my hopes too high, and when the summer’s over, I feel like there is so much left undone.

I’ve spent too much time on airplanes the last few weeks, reading the airline magazine articles about “Spending a weekend in [Enter Hub City].”  Articles I’ve seen about Pittsburgh are always the great, but typical, spots– Mount Washington, Just Ducky Tour, etc.  So I’ve put together my own “Weekend in Pittsburgh” for the traveler who has already seen the major tourism spots, or the resident who just wants a blissful weekend.

Friday

The Cultural District is always a winner for a Friday Out.  I’d go out for a decadent dinner at Nine on Nine or Sonoma Grill and catch a Pittsburgh Public Theater show at the O’Reilly.  Afterward I’d take a stroll in the direction of Market Square and have drinks at Andy’s in the Fairmount, or maybe check out Perle, the new champagne bar.

Saturday

I would sleep in (what an indulgence!) and then spend a long, lazy afternoon in the Strip District.  I’d meet up with friends for a coffee at La Prima, and then we’d stroll up and down Penn Avenue,  stuffing ourselves with Banh Mi from Lucy, tacos from Reyna’s, cookies from the vendors outside PennMac, and mung bean pancakes.  I’d also make a stop at Farmer’s at Firehouse to check out the weekend’s offerings, and make sure to stop at the Pittsburgh Public Market to fill up a growler at East End Brewing.

After all that eating, oh boy would a nap be in order.

Once I was well rested, it would be time to venture down to PNC Park for a Pirates’ game.  And yes, Quaker Steak bbq wings and a beer are a must!

In the dugout!

If I had my druthers, it would be a 4pm game (with a WIN!), and then a band I like would be playing that night at Stage AE, so I could wander over and relax on the law, watch the boats go by, and enjoy the tunes.

Sunday

Sunday means one thing: BRUNCH.  There are so many amazing brunches in Pittsburgh that it is so hard to choose the “best.”  If I was feeling like a classic, decadent brunch I’d go for the Grand Concourse.  If I am feeling more modern and chic, Casbah is the choice.  And if I’m feeling whimsical, I’d go for Doublewide Grill.  I really have to say I was IMPRESSED with Bar Marco, and sampling their brunch selection is a must for me, so that would be my number one pick (today).

With all this eating, a long walk would be in order.  I’d strap Baby Beez in the beco carrier, and head over to Frick Park for a hike through the trails.  With any luck, we’d see chipmunks and birds, and the shady trees would keep us all cool.

WE LOVE THE TREES!

After our long, leisurely walk, it would be time for dinner (yes, all I think about is food).  I would want to haul out to Aspinwall for some Burgatory. They tweeted about their new key lime pie milkshake this week, and I can’t get it OUT OF MY HEAD!

Burgatory Key Lime Milkshake, from the Burgatory Twitter Feed

And after all that running about and madness, I admit I’d spend Sunday evening on the couch, regrouping, and catching up on the TV I missed during the week.

So that’s my weekend in Pittsburgh.  How would you spend your weekend in Pittsburgh?

Completely gratuitous photo of my friend, Krista, and Councilman Bill Peduto…wherein he pretends to devour a decorative cabbage. This is pretty much the best Pittsburgh photo ever.

0

Smoke in Homestead (fancy taco joint. YUM.)

I have a special place in my heart for Reyna’s tacos, but with all the buzz about Smoke in Homestead, and with it just being a short roll down the hill from my house, we had to try it out. Smoke is the taco joint for people who are serious about slow cooked meat. I still like Reyna’s better, because I prefer sour cream, queso fresco, and lime on my tacos. Tacos at Smoke, however, are generously portioned and focus on the meat over the toppings.

20120531-210711.jpg

The tacos are priced between $4-6. Smoke is cash only, and we actually ha to get more money out of the ATM, because the $30 I brought for this take out dinner for 3 wasn’t enough. Granted Mr. Beez and I each ordered 3 tacos, and we got mac & cheese for the little one, so we got a LOT of food, but it was a little pricier than I had estimated for a taco place. The tacos are large, and 3 tacos each was MUCH more than appropriate for dinner. We should have just gotten 2 each, but we were feeling gluttonous.

20120531-210722.jpg

I ordered the Wagyu brisket, the pork, and the chorizo. Each of them have a kick of spice. They were a little spicier than I’m used to (I usually order a spice level of “2 out of 10” when there is an option) but not so spicy as to be distracting. The tortillas were homemade and fluffy and delicious. Yummm homemade tortillas. There’s nothing like them. My favorite of the tacos was the pork. Each of the meats had vibrant flavor, but the pork was so succulent and flavorful. Although the Wagyu brisket was full of flavor, it was also a little dry. The chorizo tacos were also delicious. But those other two just didn’t compare to the slow cooked pork.

20120531-210739.jpg

Smoke is BYOB, and there are tables and a bar area for dining in, but there aren’t that many tables and they’re somewhat awkwardly positioned. With ample on street parking, and plenty of outdoor dining options a short distance away (Schenley Park! Frick Park!) take out is a great option.

20120531-210753.jpg

2

Restaurants in Pittsburgh to Try!

The sad news of Gypsy Cafe closing it doors, and a mention in Pittsburgh Magazine that Bona Terra is moving (BUT NO INFORMATION AS TO WHERE!) really struck me that time in the restaurant world is fleeting!  I make my way out to lots of restaurants in the ‘burgh, and make a point of experiencing new places instead of being a “regular” at any particular place (although there are a few favorites I’ll never turn down).  This is my list of bars, restaurants, bakeries, and all other food and drink establishments I’ve yet to try, and really need to get around to visiting:

1.  Smoke Taqueria

2. Hough’s

3. Tin Front Cafe

4. Spoon

5. Verde

6.  Alma

7.  Round Corner Cantina

8.  Pusadee’s Garden

9.  Green Pepper

10.  Coriander

11. Alchemy ‘n’ Ale (closed)

12.  Tazza D’oro (I am ashamed that I’ve never been there)

13. E2

14. Union Pig & Chicken

15.  Food Glorious Food

16.  Cure

17.  Legume

18.  Casa Rasta

19.  Stagioni

20.  Nicky’s Thai Kitchen

21. Smiling Banana Leaf

22. Paris 66

23. Dish Osteria

24.  Starlite Lounge

25.  Dinette

26.  Kaleidoscope Cafe

27. Legends at the North Shore

28. Cafe Zinho

29. Wild Rosemary

30. Royal Caribbean (closed)

31. Cafe du Jour

32. Allegro Hearth Bakery

33. Dudt’s Bakery

34.  Potomac Bakery

35. Tessaro’s (I’ve been here once before, but I was a vegetarian at the time and only had potatoes. I don’t think that counts).

36.  Delanie’s Coffee

37.  Deluca’s Restaurant

What are your Pittsburgh-area favorites? (I’m willing to take a drive for a good meal, so it need not be in the city!) If I haven’t been there, I’ll add it to my list!