Pittsburgh comes alive: A sampler of the city’s creative spirit
Apteka’s brain trust
I have loved many cities where I’ve been a visitor, “but I think Pittsburgh might be the first city to have loved me back,” said Melanie Kaplan in The Washington Post. Though it’s still a gritty town, with long runs of gray days, it’s full of welcoming neighborhoods with small gathering places and proud culinary traditions. You could spend a day in the world-class museums, but leave time for wandering, to find warming, welcoming places like these:
Brugge on North This Belgian-inspired restaurant sits beside a performance space and a bookstore inside a grand former Masonic Hall. Like its sister restaurants in Point Breeze and Highland Park, it’s plugged into its neighborhood; open for brunch, lunch, and dinner; and serves such classics as mussels and twice-cooked fries with tarragon mayonnaise. You might share the bar with a writer or musician just off the neighboring stage. 40 W. North Ave., (412) 226-9740
Apteka Who says pierogi and vegans can’t mix? Tomasz Skowronski and Kate Lasky’s Polish café specializes in “heavenly” vegan food, such as pierogi stuffed with smoked cabbage or kluskie slaskie—potato dumplings served with fried buckwheat and baby lima beans. On Sunday nights, when a DJ takes over after dark, cocktails are $5 and you might hear Soviet-era jazz and even some yodeling. 4606 Penn Ave.
Smallman Galley This food hall in the Strip District, an incubator for chefs working on potential restaurant concepts, is “perfect for travelers who can’t agree on cuisine.” At the moment, the selection includes Vietnamese street food, Detroit-style pizza—“hint: it’s rectangular”—plus high-end comfort food and Southern barbecue–influenced tacos. And the in-house bar is just as inventive. 54 21st St., (412) 517-6100 ■