Growing up in Washington County, I had a lot of misconceptions of Pittsburgh (known in my town as the “Big City”), particularly the neighborhood of Shadyside. As a Pitt student, I assumed Shadyside was a mecca of expensive apartments, cool kids in cool bars, and swanky shops. Yet, somehow, I ended up moving here directly after graduation.
Now, several years later, this place is my home. I’ve lived, worked, shopped, and eaten in every corner of this community. There’s some serious history here, including the stunning Victorian-style houses once home to last names like Phipps, Mellon, Negley, and Mellon. A mix of affluent families, young professionals, artists, musicians, and students creates a community that is always growing and changing (and the residents welcome it). Despite the transient nature of a lot of the student residents, Shadyside has a very tight-knit neighborhood feel. Rarely do you walk anywhere without saying “Hello” to a familiar face.
My “10 Things to Love about Shadyside” will walk through my perfect weekend in the neighborhood. The best part: no car needed 🙂
There’s no shortage of opportunities to get your Namaste on. With at least five yoga studios, two major gyms, Dick’s Sporting Goods’ soon-to-open True Runner specialty shop, and Lululemon, Shadyside is a dream for yogis, runners, and bikers.
2. Coffee Tree Roasters
In 2010, I helped open The Elbow Room on Walnut Street and was challenged with selecting our own house brew. The solution was right across the street. Two things I learned: It’s perfectly acceptable to slurp your coffee, and Coffee Tree Roasters is locally owned and roasted. This shop on Walnut Street is the perfect spot for meetings, studying, and seeing familiar faces. On nice days, the garage door opens up to Walnut Street, creating a very welcoming indoor-outdoor space.
3. Kards Unlimited & Walnut Street Shopping
Kards Unlimited is like nothing else in the city. With quirky gifts, funny greeting cards, and a killer book selection, I could spend hours in this shop. After you get your coffee and a few cards, Walnut Street is a great place to window shop and grab a few buys. If you have guests coming in from out of town who are armed with a good sense of humor, take them here.
4. Eden = Vegetarian Heaven
While there’s no shortage of good eats in Shadyside, Eden is a new gem that I can’t get enough of. Local, fresh, healthy, and affordable. Truly a lovely brunch or dinner. I recently shared an ideal outdoor brunch with a few girlfriends. Their menu caters to vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike
5. Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte
Personally, I can’t get enough of Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte. Have you had one? The melt-in-your-mouth vanilla cake and sweet candied almonds make for a treat that has been a staple at Pittsburgh family gatherings and birthdays for over forty years. The German-style bakery is always filled with locals and is staffed by some of the friendliest yinzers in town.
6. A Walk
Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the bustling main streets and stroll along the quieter residential ones. The houses, people, cute pups, flowers, and ice cream stops create a perfect scene for an evening walk or run. Best of all: Shadyside is (almost) flat! There’s a fun mix of buildings and architecture in the community. You’ll see everything from Victorian-style homes to modern style apartment buildings. There are contemporary homes, mod-style designs, tiny buildings, and mansions. May I suggest a stroll west of Walnut Street (towards Oakland). Some of the most historical homes are between Neville Street and Amberson Avenue.
Shadyside hosts several annual events. If you are in town for any, plan to check them out!
Jam on Walnut: First Saturday in June, July, & August
Arts Festival on Walnut: August 24 & 25
Shadyside 5k: October 6, 2012
Bach Beethoven and Brunch: Every Sunday, til August 12
Shadyside House Tour: September 30, 2012
Full Buffalo Blues Bar during March Madness
While Walnut Street drives the largest night scene, it isn’t alone. Shadyside’s main business districts are composed of S. Highland Avenue, Ellsworth Avenue, and Walnut Street. Here’s a quick run-down of a few spots that are not to be missed:
S. Highland: The home of Mad Mex and Buffalo Blues – two great places to have a bite and a drink. Grab Sunday brunch at Casbah then browse the unique home interior items at Penhollows.
Ellsworth Avenue: Home to two of Pittsburgh’s best LGBT lounges (5801 & Spin), Ellsworth Ave truly has something for everyone. Start with a perfect slice of pizza at Bites & Brews, then sip on a frozen cosmo at Harris Grill. Looking for a place to meet someone new? Stop by Soba for a unique cocktail in the casual-yet-upscale lounge.
Walnut Street: You won’t run out of options quickly. There’s plenty to choose from, but don’t look past Mardi Gras. Since 1954, this bar has been serving some of the best cocktails in the city paired with an old-style jukebox that will take you back a few decades. Very Mad Men-esque. Here, you’re as likely to strike up a conversation with an elderly bar patron as a college junior who just turned 21.
Sunnyledge is a true gem. A bed and breakfast with a martini bar, restaurant, and patio, this Pittsburgh historic landmark is perched on the hill on the corner of Fifth Ave and Wilkins. Go for happy hour with complimentary appetizers on Fridays, dinner, or brunch, and you’ll have an experience like no other in Pittsburgh. Hint: They use dry ice in their cocktails. It’s something to be seen.
10. Pedestrian Bridge
The Shadyside/East Liberty Pedestrian Bridge is a game-changer for residents of both communities. Linking the residential area of Shadyside to the EastSide shopping plaza (home of Whole Foods, Trek Bike Shop, and the best local Wine & Spirits store) has made a drastic improvement to the walkability factor of our neighborhood. It’s now easier to access East Liberty’s growing list of music venues, restaurants, and shops.