#LovePGH — Visiting Pittsburgh (Day 2)

31 Aug

You know what happens when you move and plan a wedding all at the same time? Things go by the wayside—like blog posts about visiting new and exciting cities. Apologies to all the places we visited on days two and three of our Pittsburg trip. We didn’t like you less than the places we visited on day one. It’s just that Tania and I have lately spent a lot of mental energy on figuring out how to get our big couch out of the garage and through the front door. (Something we didn’t manage to do on moving day.)

Anyway. I pick up where I left off: Day two of our Pittsburgh trip. (If you missed Day One, it can be found here. And here is Day Three.)

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The outside of Better-Maid Donuts. Sadly, that’s all we saw of it. 😦

Tania and I had big plans for Saturday in Pittsburgh, and we wanted to start it off right—with a breakfast of donuts. Thanks to the ladies at eatPGH, who described the donuts as “the jam,” we had set our sights on a well-reviewed place called Better-Maid Donuts. The reviews we saw were uniformly positive, but all noted one important caveat: The donuts often sold out quickly. We would soon discover the truth of this warning. Tania and I arrived at 8:30 a.m. ready for donuts. Unfortunately, it seems that most people arrived closer to the 7 a.m. opening time than we did. Because not only were the donuts all gone, the shop was closed up tight. Nothing but a lingering smell of delicious pastries left hint of what we had missed out on.

La Gourmandine

As it turned out, Tania and I were only briefly disappointed by the absence of donuts. We were able to fill the void in our stomachs and our hearts with French pastries instead. We took a quick detour to the Lawrenceville neighborhood, were we stopped at the La Gourmandine bakery.

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Deciding between the various delicious-looking offerings was not easy. It was a decision complicated by the knowledge that it was unlikely that we’d be back any time soon to try the items we passed over. In the end, we opted for a chocolate-almond croissant and a jam-filled bostock. Our choices were appropriate for the meal—but that did mean forgoing the amazing looking tarts and other desserts that filled the bakery case.

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Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium

Appetites sated and ready for a day of exploring the city’s cultural attractions, we set off for the Pittsburgh Zoo. Tania really likes animals, and zoos have lots of them. The Pittsburgh Zoo was no exception. One of the especially cool things about the Pittsburgh Zoo was the aquarium—especially the sharks. Tania was on a selfie kick during much of our Pittsburgh trip, and she was quite happy to get a selfie with a shark in the background. (She also managed to get a selfie with a rather grumpy looking fish.)

Our shark selfie.  (A sharkie?)

Our shark selfie. (A sharkie?)

Monkey!

Monkey!

Also cool was the elephant exhibit. And the opportunity, for only $10, to get our photo taken with—and to touch—an elephant.

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By the time we finished with the zoo it was getting to be lunch time. So we headed down to the Strip District to get something to eat. Residents and previous visitors alike had stressed the need to include the Strip District in our Pittsburgh itinerary. And it certainly an active and bustling area. Great shops combined with street vendors combined to give the Strip District a vibrant feeling.

Pizza Boat

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I was pleased to discover that Pizza Boat, one of Pittsburgh’s well-regarded mobile food vendors (but not a boat) was set up for lunch. Tania was also pleased; I think she’d eat pizza every day if given the option. I’d certainly eat the pizza from Pizza Boat that frequently. High quality ingredients together with an excellent crust combined to make Pizza Boat one of the highlights of our visit. (Also, the logo on their website is awesome.  If I could have gotten that on a t-shirt, you better believe I would have.)

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Penn Avenue Fish Company

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Although I would have been happy to eat a whole pizza (or two) on my own, Tania and I shared one because we also wanted to try one of the sandwiches from the Penn Avenue Fish Company. We opted for the California Tuna Sandwich, but there were lots of other options on the menu that looked equally appealing. One only has room for so much food though!

East End Brewing

No trip to a new city would be complete without at least one stop at a local brewery. We opted for a visit to the East End Brewing’s Strip District tap room. Located in the Pittsburgh Public Market, the tap room offers growler fills, beer for on-site consumption, and bomber sales (as well as other brewery paraphernalia). After sampling a few of the on-tap options, and not being in a position to bring a growler home, I picked up a bomber of their smoked porter and their Toaster Imperial Stout to bring home.

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Andy Warhol Museum

Because eating and drinking couldn’t be the only thing we did during our time in Pittsburgh, we next visited the Andy Warhol Museum. If we had wanted to, it would have been an easy walk to the Warhol Museum from the Renaissance where we were staying. But we were out and about in the car already. So we didn’t.

No photos are allowed in the Warhol’s galleries, so I don’t have any cool pictures to share. But, don’t let that dissuade you from considering a visit. One of the best things about the Warhol Museum is how it gives you a much more well-rounded appreciation for Warhol and his work. If your knowledge of him is limited to pictures of soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, then a visit to the museum will certainly broaden your horizons. I say that having not even scratched the surface of the museum’s exhibition of his films. One of my favorite parts of the museum was the participatory option of creating your own 3-minute version of Warhol’s famous screen tests. Mine is here.

Back to eating and drinking though.

Kelly’s Bar and Lounge

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We had made dinner reservations for Spoon, located in the East Liberty neighborhood. But with time to kill before dinner, we wanted to find somewhere nearby that would provide Tania with the opportunity to try the cider from Pittsburgh’s Arsenal Ciderhouse. Conveniently located just around the corner from Spoon was Kelly’s Bar and Lounge. Kelly’s is absolutely my kind of bar. If I lived in Pittsburgh, it’d be the type of place that I’d want to be a regular. Comfortable and lacking pretension, it has an awesome retro-dive style and a great drink list. I mean just look at that awesome sign!

Spoon

As for dinner, Spoon was everything we could have hoped for and more. Everything—from the service to the food—was top notch. Taking full advantage of the money provided to us by Visit Pittsburgh, we did not hold back when ordering. For appetizers, we shared both a delicious heirloom tomato soup (really really good) and a well-crafted truffle tagliatelle.

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Never one to pass up an opportunity to eat duck—especially not when I think it’s going to be prepared well—that’s of course what I ordered. (It took every ounce of self-restraint I had not to also get the optional foie gras or to “indulge” in the words of the restaurant.) The duck was amazing. It was served both as duck breast and as a duck sausage. Also it was well-plated and was an attractive as well as delicious dish.

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Tania had the ancho chili crusted pork tenderloin, which was also served two ways. She felt about her meal much the way that I felt about mine. And, based on the bites that she shared with me, I certainly believe her feelings to be justified.

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BRGR

Upon a previous trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister years ago when she still lived there, the two of us had gone to BRGR. While there, my sister had gotten the salty caramel milkshake (the bourbon salty caramel milkshake that is), and I had long been craving another taste of it. So Tania and I forewent dessert at Spoon so as to save room for such a shake. (For those of you keeping track, this means that yes, we visited all three restaurants in the Spoon, Grit & Grace, and BRGR restaurant group. That was by pure coincidence. But it is a testament to them that we independently decided to visit each location.)

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The Livermore

Because we needed some time to digest before dessert, Tania and I detoured to The Livermore, a  cocktail bar located just around the corner. The same folks who are behind Bar Marco also run The Livermore. We couldn’t fit Bar Marco into our itinerary on this trip, so the discovery that there was a sister restaurant nearby was a welcome one.

I also wanted to visit because when I had last been in Pittsburgh the space currently occupied by The Livermore was filled by The Waffle Shop, a combination restaurant and art project that convinced people to appear on its live streaming talk show by luring them in with waffles. Although now closed, the spirit of The Waffle Shop lives on in the relocated Conflict Kitchen (which serves food from countries with which the United States is in conflict.).

Whew. That was Day Two. As you can tell, Pittsburgh has a lot going on! Stay tuned for Day Three and the final wrap-up of our whirlwind vacation!

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3 Responses to “#LovePGH — Visiting Pittsburgh (Day 2)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Columbus Events Sept 3 – 10 | - September 2, 2014

    […] Columbus’ restaurants on wheels have to offer.  Finally, Sam found time to write up Day 2 of our trip to Pittsburgh. Better late than never, right? […]

  2. #LovePGH — Visiting Pittsburgh (Day 3) | Pie are Round - September 4, 2014

    […] And now! The thrilling conclusion to our Pittsburgh weekend extravaganza! (For those of you following along at home here are Day One and Day Two.) […]

  3. #LovePgh — Visiting Pittsburgh (Day 1) | Pie are Round - September 4, 2014

    […] day. There is just too much to do in Pittsburgh to fit it in just one. (This is Friday. Here is Saturday, and here is […]

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