Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is my hometown. I visited twice last summer and gave you two Fav 5 Travel Guides (part 1 and part 2) plus a little tour of my favorite hometown park, Kennywood!
This year I visited "da Burg" again and now you're looking at Part 3.
On this year's trip to Pittsburgh we checked so many good spots from the list. You'll enjoy my hyper-local favorite bakeries, plenty of regional coffee, some South Side spots, a celebratory dinner, and an Italian meal to remember.
1. Regional Coffee - Sheetz and Dunkin Donuts
2. Neighborhood Celebrities - Mancini's Bread and Better Maid Donuts
3. A sober South Side Morning - BYS Yoga and Doublewide Grill
4. Celebrating in Station Square - the Grand Concourse
5. A visit to Sewickley - dinner and dessert Mambo Italiano
1. Regional Coffee - In Pittsburgh I can have two "local" coffees that are not available to me in Seattle: Sheetz and Dunkin Donuts.
Sheetz is a true local gem. Part gas station and part SUPERIOR convenience store, Sheetz was founded in Altoona, PA, just under 100 miles outside of Pittsburgh. There are now more than 500 Sheetz stores in 7 states, according to their website. Sheetz sells all kinds of drip coffee and espresso drinks while they're known for the MTO (made to order) feature. MTO is what takes this convenience store to the next level, allowing you to create whatever combination of items to eat or drink. This time I created my own iced latte with almond milk and yes, a breakfast sandwich with tater tots INSIDE. In the city known for sandwiches stuffed with French fries, it just seemed like the right thing to do. With a Sheetz MTO, anything is possible!
Speaking of Pittsburgh and Sheetz, let's just clarify the allegiances now:
You've probably heard of Dunkin' Donuts before, they're the popular coffee and donut retailer from Massachusetts. You can find Dunkin' Donuts in 41 of our 50 states, although not in WA! When we got one near my parents house in Pittsburgh everyone was, and continues to be, over excited and over caffeinated. Throughout our 10 day visit, I worked from home most of those days. Bryce was kind enough to bring me Dunkin' often in a nice rotation of: hot chai teas and iced almond milk lattes.
While Dunkin' is much more convenient (closer to home and a drive through) I must admit that the Sheetz iced almond milk latte is much better!
2. My own little neighborhood of Sheraden, isn't a well known area of Pittsburgh. We've got just a handful of businesses in town and it's often on the news for unfavorable stories. What we do have in very close proximity are two of the city's very best and oldest bakeries, our own little celebrities.
Mancini's Bakery makes the very best bread in the City of Pittsburgh. Their original location in McKees Rocks is within walking distance of the childhood homes of both my Dad and his Mom/my Grandma and is just 2 miles from my parents home now. While you can buy their bread in most grocery stores, I love to go to the bakery where the loaves are freshly made. Mancini's Original Italian Twist loaf is the best bread I've ever had in my life, hands down. I don't even try or compare other Italian breads, I just wait until I go home to get Mancini's. I enjoyed the ages old rite of passage of tearing out the inside of the loaf's heel and stuffing it directly into my mouth before enjoying a daily avocado toast on "twist".
Our other local hero is much smaller and lesser known. Better Maid Donut is a tiny little shop that's located in a house. It opens in the wee-hours of the morning and then closes for the day as soon as the donuts are sold out. This is also typically still in the very early morning, before you've opened your eyes for the day. A few years ago a van drove clear through the building and they had to rebuild. I've never eaten the proper donuts there because the donut holes are little bites of pastry heaven. In high school I'd bring a box of the little gems on every early morning volleyball bus ride. Now my parents bring a box along for the ride to pick me up from the airport, talk about curb side service!
I brought both of our local bakeries together for a very Pittsburgh breakfast!
3. The South Side is loaded with bars. Like most Pittsburghers, I spent my early twenties drinking my way up and down Carson Street, the main thoroughfare, before stumbling back out to find some late night eats. On this visit I did just the opposite, getting up early for a (sober!) South Side workout while the neighborhood was bright with morning sun and alive with morning commuters.
I met my cousin for a morning class at BYS Yoga It felt so great to focus my mind and move my body, doing something so GOOD in the midst of a vacation and in a place where I'd only ever made poor decisions! I never even considered what went on in the business above the bars... or in the daytime, HA.
After yoga class we joined the rest of our family for lunch at Double Wide Grill. Their food is always great and I was surprised to see so many vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. I went for a (vegetarian) cajun halloumi cheese sandwich with taztziki sauce and cucumbers on 7 grain bread. It came with a big kale salad and some delicious cornbread.
We left feeling refreshed and I have a fresh perspective on what the South Side can do!
4. The Grand Concourse is an upscale restaurant in an exquisite old train station. It's a family favorite of ours and we tend to celebrate there. My parents were celebrating their 41st wedding anniversary so we joined our family friend for dinner, drinks, and so many funny stories and laughs! I love when a restaurant is beautiful and the food tastes just as good as the place looks. The Grand Concourse is one of those places. My soup and dinner were both perfect.
5. A Pittsburgh neighborhood that's new to me is Sewickley. My childhood and forever best friend just moved there and took us to dinner at Mambo Italia. It's located right on the street and we sat outside, soaking up the sun and people watching. You can bring your own bottle, which is always so novel and fun, and the food was excellent.
Beautiful salads, entrees, pizzas, and pasta landed on and were passed around our table. They were all great but the star of the show was the dessert: NUTELLA PIZZA. I wish I had the words to tell you how decadent and wonderful a combination of dough, Nutella (chocolate + hazelnut), fruit, and powdered sugar tastes, but I don't. Che Buono (it's good) as they say in Italia!
This year's trip to Pittsburgh was excellent, filled with old local favorites and new (to me) Pittsburgh surprises. I hope you enjoyed this visit with me!
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Hello, I'm Angela.
Figs and Flights is all about traveling near and far & eating great food both at home and away.