Squirrel Hill is one of those neighborhoods you can’t help but love. It is primarily residential with tons of gorgeous houses and has two business streets that are among the most vibrant in the entire city.
We lived in Squirrel Hill for many years and enjoyed visiting the shops and eating at the plethora of restaurants that call this neighborhood home. To share some of our favorite places to hit during a visit, this guide was born!
It is worth noting that the following is not a collection of every business in Squirrel Hill. This article only features businesses that we personally visit when we explore the neighborhood. As such, it should only be taken as a starting point and is certainly not a list of every establishment. If you see an interesting business while exploring Squirrel Hill, do yourself a favor and go inside!
Squirrel Hill History and Map
The origin of the name Squirrel Hill is under dispute, but is likely due to the large number of squirrels that called the area home when it was first settled in the mid-1700s (and since we lived there for a while, we can attest there are still plenty around today, so we’re going with this one).
The neighborhood grew in prominence over the generations that followed, with many of the city’s most famous residents owning significant estates in the neighborhood well before Pittsburgh’s urban sprawl made its way east. Over time many of these estates were donated to the city, and significant portions became what we know as Schenley Park and Frick Park– two of the largest parks within the city limits.
Squirrel Hill is also home to a large Jewish population (which is reflective in the neighborhood businesses and restaurants) and is an education hub with Carnegie Mellon and Chatham Universities calling the neighborhood home (although some would argue that Carnegie Mellon is in Oakland due to its border with this neighborhood).
All of these come together to make Squirrel Hill a unique and thriving neighborhood that is a must visit when exploring Pittsburgh.
Squirrel Hill is located in the east of Pittsburgh and is made up of two neighborhoods- Squirrel Hill North and Squirrel Hill South. As most locals would consider these both as simply Squirrel Hill, we have combined them for this guide.
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This would make the generally accepted boundaries of what we are calling Squirrel Hill as Fifth Avenue to the North, Carnegie Mellon and Schenley Park to the West*, Dallas Avenue and Frick Park to the East, and Saline Street/Nine Mile Run/the Monongahela River to the south.
The main business district in Squirrel Hill is found on Murray and Forbes Avenue, and the vast majority of businesses featured in this guide can be found on these two connecting streets (the remaining segments of the neighborhood are primarily residential).
All of the businesses featured below are included in the above map. To read our review or visit the shop’s site, either click the link in the map above or in our post below when available!
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*According to the city, Carnegie Mellon and Schenley Park are technically part of Squirrel Hill, although most would consider them Oakland. For this guide, we are including Schenley Park for completion; however, we will discuss more about Carnegie Mellon in our Oakland guide.
Restaurants and Bars in Squirrel Hill
Squirrel Hill is home to one of the city’s largest international food scenes, and although you can find a number of cuisine styles here, the most common are Asian or Jewish inspired- the latter being due to the fact that Squirrel Hill is home to one of the city’s largest Jewish populations. So whether you have a craving for a Reuben and some potato latkes, Malaysian laksa, Turkish kebabs, or even Tawainese soup dumplings, the neighborhood has something for everyone.
Although the following list is not a complete selection of restaurants in Squirrel Hill, it is a great starting place for visitors. To read more, click the link in the restaurant name which will either point to our review (when available) or the restaurant’s website itself:
- Chengdu Gourmet – A Sichuan style restaurant that serves authentic, spicy Chinese food. Perfect for those who want to try the real thing!
- Coriander India Grill – Offering a wide spectrum of cuisine from all over India.
- Curry on Murray – A Thai restaurant that focuses on curry and other regional specialties.
- Tan Lac Vien Vietnamese – Home to a number of specialities from Vietnam.
- Chaya Japanese – Featuring an authentic selection of Japanese noodles and tempura.
- Green Pepper – Squirrel Hill’s premier Korean restaurantnt.
- Sichuan Gourmet – A second Sichuan style Chinese restaurant in Squirrel Hill, very similar to Chengdu Gourmet.
- Basha 21 – Shwarma, falafel, and other Middle Eastern specialties.
- Silk Elephant – A selection of Thai food as well as sushi and dumplings.
- Bangkok Balcony – One of the city’s most popular Thai restaurants, with upstairs dining looking down over Squirrel Hill.
- Turkish Kebab House – Home to an incredible assortment of kebabs and gyros.
- Ramen Bar – Focusing on the iconic Japanese noodle dish- ramen.
- Sun Penang – A Malaysian themed restaurant tackling many popular Asian dishes. Do yourself a favor and try the Malaysian laksa.
- Rose Tea Cafe – Taiwanese, Chinese, and bubble tea at this small establishment.
- Everyday Noodles – House-made noodles and dumplings at this Taiwanese establishment.
- How Lee Chinese – A large assortment of Chinese dishes- well known and not.
- Sakura Teppanyaki – Sushi and hibachi style entrees.
- Taiwanese Bistro Cafe 33 – A large assortment of Taiwanese dishes.
- Smallman Street Deli – The Squirrel Hill branch of the iconic Strip District deli, serving up massive sandwiches, an incredible Reuben, and wonderful Jewish sides.
- Nu Jewish Bistro – A modern take on many classic Jewish dishes, and Jewish interpretations of other international favorites (corned beef Banh Mi, anyone?).
- Pamela’s P&G Diner – Pittsburgh’s iconic breakfast chain. The pancakes are an absolute must.
- Commonplace Coffee – One of Pittsburgh’s newest coffee chains, and one of our personal favorites.
- Hidden Harbor – A tiki bar with impressive drinks and themed nights on weekdays.
- Independent Brewing Company – A local bar serving up many Pittsburgh and regional favorites!
- Mineo’s Pizza House – A local favorite pizza shop.
- The Greek Gourmet – A small Greek grocery store with prepared food items ready to go.
- Berry Fresh – Yogurt shop in Squirrel Hill (previously known as Razzy Fresh).
- Waffallonia – A Belgian waffle stall that casts a wonderful aroma down Murray Avenue.
Shopping in Squirrel Hill
In addition to dining in Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood is home to a thriving shopping district that is found on Forbes and Murray Avenues.
Much like the restaurants featured above, the neighborhood has a high concentration of Asian and Jewish themed shops, as well as larger chains, boutique shops, and more- all within walking distance of each other. Like the restaurants, the below list is not a complete collection, and is instead a listing of some of our favorite spots to get you started.
- Ten Thousand Villages – A fair trade artisan shop featuring decorations and artwork from around the world.
- Global Market Retail– A second import shop featuring beautiful pieces from around the globe.
- Paititi inti – An artisan shop featuring clothing, fabric, and other decorations from South America.
- Dobra Tea – Home to an incredible selection of loose-leaf tea
- Pink Box Bakery – Featuring international baked goods with a focus on Asian delights.
- The Chocolate Moose – Squirrel Hill’s resident chocolate and candy store.
- Gaby et Jules – A French pastry shop focusing on macaroons.
- Allegro Hearth Bakery – A corner bakery known for their incredible bread selection.
- Murray Avenue Kosher – An affordably priced grocery store with a large focus on Jewish specialties.
- Knit One – A massive store for all things knitting.
- Acoustic Music Works – All things musical instruments.
- Games Unlimited – Perhaps the largest board game store in the city.
- It’s Dogg’n It – A massive beer cave with cases and mix-and-match to go.
- GreenLight Juice – Looking for a juice cleanse? This small shop will have what you need!
- Littles Shoes – One of the city’s most iconic shoe stores, right in the heart of Squirrel Hill.
- Gluuteny Bakery – All things gluten free for those who have dietary restrictions.
- Margaret’s Fine Imports – Tea lovers will do right by visiting this one for their vast assortment.
Frick and Schenley Parks
Squirrel Hill is very fortunate to be home to not one, but two incredibly large city parks within its boundaries.
Frick Park was once part of the Frick family estate, and the estate still stands and is open to the public with daily home tours and public spaces available on the grounds. The park itself is one of the largest parks in the city (and until a new addition in 2016, it was the largest) and is home to numerous hiking trails that go up and down the hills in a wooded environment- perfect for walkers and runners of all skill levels.
Schenley Park is a second beautiful city park in Squirrel Hill and offers numerous wooded trails as well as several grassy areas with gorgeous views of the Cathedral of Learning, and ample amenities such as playgrounds, disc golf course, a swimming pool, and more.
Information for Visiting Squirrel Hill
The most important thing we always tell visitors to Squirrel Hill is to be careful when driving. The neighborhood is not terribly congested outside of rush hour, but the lights are setup with odd timings and you almost always have pedestrians jay walking across the main roads. As such, it is good to be vigilant when on the roads- especially when college is in session as this neighborhood is a hub for students.
Parking on Forbes and Murray is metered during the week and on Saturdays, and parking is free on Sundays. Most all of the side roads from there are residential, and parking can typically be found after circling the block a few times. Much like everywhere else in the city, keep in mind that several of these streets (but not all) are permit parking with limited hours for free and street cleaning limitations may apply too.
Squirrel Hill in many ways is similar to the Strip District in that it is most vibrant during the day, despite the fact that many restaurants and bars are open well into the night (and even on Sundays). So if you are struggling to find something to do in Pittsburgh on Sundays, this one is always a reliable option.
Overall, Squirrel Hill is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, and is worth a visit time and time again to eat at a delicious restaurant, go shopping, take a walk in the incredible parks, or simply visit a new business you’ve never checked out before.
Hotels Near Squirrel Hill
When it comes to accommodation options in Squirrel Hill proper, your options are limited with the only hotel in the official boundaries being The Mansions at Maple Heights located just at the boundary of Squirrel Hill and Shadyside.
The main business district itself does not have any dedicated hotels; however, many Airbnb’s have popped up within walking distance of all the action. (For more on Pittsburgh’s Airbnb scene, click our previous link).
If you are looking to stay near Squirrel Hill during a visit, the neighborhoods of Oakland, Shadyside, East Liberty are nearby and have numerous hotel options available. East Liberty is home to the Ace Hotel and Hotel Indigo. Shadyside is home to the Shadyside Inn, Mansions on Fifth, and The Inn on Negley. Oakland is home to the Quality Inn University Center, Wyndham University Center, and Hilton Garden Inn University Place to name a few. Many of these are a short car or bus ride away from all of the action and Squirrel Hill, and can be a good option if you have this neighborhood high on your list during a visit.
Now that we’ve shared all of our favorite spots in the Squirrel Hill, it is your turn to head over and check it out for yourself! Find a spot we didn’t feature in this list that you love? Comment below to let us know about it!
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