In and Around Pittsburgh

If you ask about breakfast in Pittsburgh, you’re going to hear about DeLuca’s

They’re famous for big sloppy piles of diner food and long lines out the door to get at them. There’s nothing fancy here and no attention paid to presentation but the service is fast and warm, the food is good and if you sit at the bar, the cooking show at the grill is quite a sight to behold.

I wouldn’t recommend Bikram directly after this breakfast, but if you want to sweat out some of the calories an hour or so later, try Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh in their big studio space on Penn Ave.

I happened to be in town on the weekend Mary Javis was teaching (one of Bikram’s very first students and now one of his most senior teachers) so I dropped in on her class and 2 hours later we had just completed the standing series. It was intense. She talks a lot. But she lives and breathes Bikram yoga and she’s incredibly approachable and informative. If you get a chance to take her class, do it, and if you get to Pittsburgh, check out this studio. My only complaints are that they don’t encourage water bottles in class (which is rough during a Mary Jarvis class) and their bathrooms and showers aren’t very well laid out so there’s a lot of congestion. Otherwise, it’s a great space.

After a 3 hour Bikram class you’re probably ready for lunch so head over to Meat and Potatoes for a sandwich.

Sit at the bar, talk to the bartender, order the beer of the day and chow down on one of their massive delicious sandwiches. I got the Cuban style torta with smoked pork, pickled cabbage, avocado and cilantro and I couldn’t finish it. I love the whole vibe of this gastropub. It’s got just the right balance of lots of windows, dark wood, open space and mirrors and everything on the menu looks amazing. They open for lunch and their kitchen stays open until midnight, which is perfect for the theatre crowd right across the street.

If you want to stay in town, I’d recommend a trip to the Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum near the Warhol (which is also worth a visit). They have a couple of outstanding permanent collections, including this one by Greer Lankton that is by itself worth the price of admission.

Make sure you also walk down Jacksonia street to check out Randyland

and talk to Randy if you get a chance. He’s an interesting guy and he loves visitors.

But really you should get out of town because the most worthy attraction in all of Pennsylvania is only a short drive away.

Fallingwater. One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous houses. There aren’t many online pictures of the interior of this house because they forbid photography during the tours and it’s probably just as well since pictures do it no justice at all. The magic comes in standing inside the living room and looking through floor to ceiling windows at the rushing waters of Bear Run right under you. The narrow hallways and ingenious window tower up the center of the house, the story of how Mr. Kaufmann wanted to build on this location because it’s where he proposed to his wife (Frank Lloyd Wright built their house around the boulder where they stood), the airy guest quarters, the eclectic art work and the thousands of acres of conserved forest all around the house. It’s brilliant and you need to go visit to really get it. Smithsonian magazine named it one of the top 28 locations to visit before you die, so believe them if you don’t believe me.

Even better, on the way to Fallingwater you can stop in at the Big Mac Museum and get your picture taken in front of the 14 foot Big Mac sculpture

Just like I did. There’s also a small display of vintage McDonald’s merch and a timeline of the Big Mac evolution, a sandwich that was “invented” right down the road.

But there’s no need to actually eat a Big Mac, just get all educated about them and then drive back to Pittsburgh for dinner at Sharp Edge Bistro, the Belgian beer bar that isn’t just for beer nerds

Get the mussels with bleu cheese and bacon (amazing) but take a pass on the frites (not quite crispy enough) and have a Palm with it. The bartenders are knowledgable, the glassware array behind the bar is mind boggling and their kitchen stays open late. I’ve also had belgian waffles here that were killer.

For after dinner cocktails I suggest Salt of the Earth, a Kevin Sousa restaurant

Communal tables, an intriguing chalkboard menu taking up one whole wall that lists dishes by their main ingredient, hand mixed cocktails and attentive table service. The bourbon cocktail I had was incredible with hints of apple and cardamom but I didn’t know quite what to make of the food we ordered. I didn’t love anything I tried but I feel that I might have been in the wrong state of mind. I’m intrigued enough to go back for dinner and I unhesitatingly recommend them for drinks and conversation.

And that’s a little taste of Pittsburgh, a town in which I always seem to find something new and interesting whenever I visit. For other suggestions, check out these posts from earlier in the year.

A Day Off in Pittsburgh

Touring days off always start late, they’re usually in a new city

and they frequently involve Mexican food or Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

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Don’t ask me, I don’t make the rules.

However, margaritas are welcome.

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Especially if they’re interesting shi-shi margaritas involving basil and grapefruit juice.

Thus fortified, take a walk around and see the sights

Altar Bar Pittsburgh

Investigate ticket prices and decide $65 is too much, even to see Snoop Dogg on a Monday night in a converted church/bar.

Move on to other curious inexplicables, like “Randyland

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Which looks a lot like other repurposed trash fiestas in far flung parts of the country.

On Randy’s urging, follow the white rabbit inside:

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And admire his collections

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Randy promises to come back, but doesn’t. Which is a bit sad. The only thing better than an upcycled garden of delights in the middle of suburbia is meeting the creator and asking my ever present question “Why???”

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Then again, is there ever an adequate answer to that question?

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Ryan’s watery visage says “No.”

Peace, Love and Little Donuts

All the things the world needs in one small sign.


A sign for tie-dyed peace and love won’t always grab me but I do love dessert in any “little” form.

And not only the donuts are little

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Having Ryan there to photograph your donuts will cost you extra… Don’t get riled up! He’s worth the money. Peace, man…

When we walked into this wee little place, the donut lady asked if we’d ever tried their donuts and when we said no, she said “do you want to?”

Seemed like a silly question since we’re already there… to buy donuts. But then she gave us a donut sample! A free little donut. That’s peace AND love for ya.

So we bought two more, cuz we like to give back that way.

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Peace, Love and blurry Little Donuts. Welcome to Pittsburgh!