Located in western Pennsylvania and known as the city that built America, Pittsburgh’s history is synonymous with steel, aluminium and glass. Sophia Amos examines its current vegan credentials…
Published on 30 Apr 2019
Pittsburgh hosts unique foodie festivals throughout the year including Picklesburgh; a culinary celebration that goes beyond the small dill pickle to include a host of inspiring dishes and artisan cocktails from local restaurants featuring pickled ingredients. The city-wide celebration sees one of Pittsburgh’s iconic golden sister bridges taken over with pop-up stalls showcasing delicious pickle dishes to taste, informative how-to demos and of course, the annual pickle juice drinking contest.
Where to eat
Pittsburgh is made up of over 90 diverse neighbourhoods with multiple backgrounds and cultures, including American, Irish, Jewish, Polish and German all contributing to the burgeoning food scene in the city. You’ll find everything from award-winning chefs and restaurants, to an innovative incubator restaurant concept, called the Smallman Galley, where you’ll enjoy delectable bites from aspiring chefs.
Originating from monthly pop-up pierogi nights in Pittsburgh’s East End, Apteka is one of Pittsburgh’s newest, but most impressive, pierogi restaurants. Inside you’ll find a celebrated Central and Eastern European menu that centres on the pierogis that made it famous. Plus, Apteka is fully vegan, so everyone can enjoy this culinary delight. aptekapgh.com
A fusion of American and Middle Eastern cuisine, B52 creates all of its offerings from scratch. Try house baked goods and chocolates served alongside a full service espresso bar. The Sunday Brunch menu is one of Pittsburgh’s most popular weekend hotspots, with vegan alternatives of the breakfast staples including sweet and savoury pancakes, mezze platters and assorted flatbreads with vegetable fillings including the popular shiitake mushroom manakish, with baby kale & roasted garlic vinaigrette to enjoy. b52pgh.com
Betsy’s Ice Cream
Ryan and Betsy Miller are accidental ice cream connoisseurs. After whipping up a delicious concoction in their kitchen, their friends and family begged for more and Betsy’s Ice Cream was born in 2012. Located in Mt Lebanon, the parlour serves 28 homemade flavours of ice cream such as Vegan Chocolate, Blueberry Cheesecake and Lavender Raspberry. betsysicecream.com
Double Wide Grill
A long-standing staple of the Pittsburgh community due to their awesome outdoor seating and fun atmosphere, Double Wide Grill offers a large array of vegan and vegetarian options, so even the dietary conscious can get down on the BBQ scene. With a separate fryer and grill, mouth-watering menu choices include Seitan Wings, meatless Stroganoff, Coconut Curry Tofu, Smoked Mac and Broccoli Cheese and an avocado and pesto burger. doublewidegrill.com
A true Pittsburgh staple and loved by late night foodies and families alike, Mad Mex is a popular hangout, seven days a week. The “pickadippa” starter allows you to try any three of their dips, which include five salsas, guacamole, black bean dip and pepita houmous. The menu is also incredibly vegetarian and vegan friendly, supplementing the meat of their popular burritos and quesadillas with spicy spinach, Portobello mushrooms, black beans and pecan cheese. madmex.com/pittsburgh/shadyside
A seasonal menu that brings together local talent from the community and creates an accessible menu full of American favourites. Square Café is family friendly and serves healthy fast-food options for breakfast and lunch, including veggie crepes, sprouts bowls, tofu scramble and a variety of vegan salads, wraps and burgers. square-cafe.com
A punk rock and heavy metal fuelled food purveyor specialising in vegetable-based Asian and American comfort food. Menu includes dumplings filled with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, soy caramel and ginger pesto, veggie hot dogs filled with caramelized onions and jalapeño pineapple relish, stir-fry with lily flower, tofu and wood ear and the classic American staple, tater tots with cashew cheese and lentil chilli. onionmaiden.com
An eclectic eatery with a variety of vegetarian menu items, which also serves as an art gallery and antique shop. Zenith is also Pittsburgh’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, located in the historic south side and fitting into a diverse neighbourhood. Menu offers a variety of farm to table staples for lunch and dinner and is renowned for its Sunday Brunch.
Out & About
The Smallman Galley launched in 2015 as a new restaurant concept providing a food hall for 200 seated guests and a space for four undiscovered chefs to showcase their capabilities and bring their concepts to market at low-risk and low-cost.
December 2017 saw the launch of the second project, Federal Galley, an indoor/outdoor space with a bustling beer garden highlighting more than 30 local breweries, as well as four unique food concepts. The four restaurants in one offer affordable dining, from the culturally-rich flavours of Mexico, to Detroit-style pizza and rotate every year. www.smallmangalley.org / www.federalgalley.org
Just 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh, discover gorgeous scenery, curiosities, country life, microbreweries, camping and festivals galore. Home to Moraine State Park, which has been restored to natural glory after many years of coal mining and oil and gas drilling, so that now there are 16,000 acres of natural beauty, 71 miles of trails and 42 miles of shoreline. The 1 million yearly visitors to the park can enjoy cross-country skiing in Pleasant Valley, which is suitable for all ski levels. visitbutlercounty.com
Top five places to visit
1. Andy Warhol Museum Arguably America’s most prolific modern artist Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928. Almost a century on, this visionary’s work is celebrated in his home city by the museum, the largest dedicated to a single artist in the USA – a vast space of seven floors and 17 galleries. 117 Sandusky Street, warhol.org
2. Bike the Burgh Tour A historical city bike tour giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the city’s history, its famous people, architecture and street art. The “Best of” tour dives into the history of Pittsburgh, tracking down the people who shaped the city and public art that turns the ride into a unique event full of exciting (re)discoveries of The Burgh. biketheburgh.com
3. Ride the Duquesne Incline Explore a history of innovation at the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, two of the oldest funiculars in the US. Restored in 1963, visitors can see the interior mechanics of the Duquesne Incline.
4. See a sports game Pittsburgh is home to three major sports teams: the Steelers (American football), Pirates (baseball) and Penguins (ice hockey). Six-time Superbowl winners, the Pittsburgh Steelers play at Heinz Field which opened in 2001, offering an impressive city view of downtown and the Allegheny River. The Pittsburgh Penguins take to the ice at PPG Paints Arena and the Pittsburgh Pirates play at a ballpark hailed as one of the best in the country, at PNC Park.
5. Wigle Whiskey Tasting Wigle Whiskey is Pittsburgh’s first distillery since Prohibition. Located in the Strip District and less than a mile from downtown Pittsburgh, Wigle makes a variety of spirits including rye whiskey, bourbon, gin, rum, absinthe, vodka, and more. Open 7 days a week for tours, tastings, and cocktails. 2401 Smallman Street, wiglewhiskey.com
From 2nd April 2019, British Airways launches a year-round, non-stop flight from London to Pittsburgh. Special fares start from £600 return, operating four times a week on the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Flights are also available via WOW Air from London Gatwick via Reykjavik – fares start at £135.99 one way. Pittsburgh International Airport is located just outside the city and is about a 20 minute taxi ride into downtown.
Where to stay
Offering accommodation to suit all budgets and locations, Pittsburgh boasts an eclectic mix of hotels downtown.
Ace Hotel Pittsburgh
Ace Hotel Pittsburgh makes its home in a century-old former YMCA building in the heart of the East Liberty neighbourhood. Surrounded by a community that has helped to create a place both by the neighbourhood and for the neighbourhood. A short jaunt from some of the best restaurants, museums, shops and gardens the city has to offer. 120 South Whitfield Street, acehotel.com/Pittsburgh
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh
This boutique hotel stands tall, above the urban landscape as the city’s design innovator, with a historic frontage and playful interior. Chic décor combines with bold pops of colour and collections of art and sculptures. 620 William Penn Place, monaco-pittsburgh.com
Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh
The boutique Distrikt Hotel, located at the former Salvation Army headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh brings 185-rooms across 10 floors with a clean and contemporary look with plenty of character. The hotel is just a short drive away from sport and entertainment venues, including Heinz Field (home to the Pittsburgh Steelers), PNC Park and PPG Paints Arena. Each guest receives complimentary bicycle hire, offering the free exploration of the city and cycle trails. 453 Boulevard of the Allies, curiocollection3.hilton.com
Head to visitpittsburgh.com for more information.